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.

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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).

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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.

Way back when, Wednesday

Entrepreneurial Elf

Have you ever wondered what the elves do with themselves in the off-season, when they are not employed in Santa’s workshop? In the 2005 picture book The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition by Carol Aebersold, Chanda Bell and Coë Steinwart, the elves visit peoples’ houses. Once adopted, they watch vigilantly to see if children have been naughty or nice, then make a report to Santa.

 

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The Elf on the Shelf.  Reserve this book through the Library’s online catalogue

 

Perhaps a more commercially minded member of the fairy folk may have swapped the elven tunic, leggings and shoes with curled up toes for a suit and tie, then set up his own small business in Adelaide. The North East Leader, a Messenger Newspaper printed this advertisement for real estate agent Ernie D. Elf on page 25 of the edition dated 4 July 1973.

 

ernie elf real estate

If Ernie Elf sold your house or you bought a property through him, please let us know about your experience. Ernie Elf certainly looks like his name. Notice how his chin-length, Seventies style hair could hide a pair of pointed ears!

Elf real estate no longer operates at 598 North East Road, Holden Hill, this is now the site of a Caltex service station. What happened to Ernie? Although Elf Realty is listed in Queensland, Ernie is not listed as an agent. Maybe Ernie joined another firm or eventually retired.

Thank you for reading ‘Way back when, Wednesday’ this year, best wishes for a Merry Christmas!

#waybackwhenwednesdays

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

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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.

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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.

 

 

Way back when, Wednesdays

Vintage baking

Here are recipes for two old fashioned baked treats: Rock cakes and Gingernut biscuits. They are easy to make and moreish to eat. I have taken the recipes from my mum’s venerable 1961 book of home cooking Good Housekeeping’s Cookery Compendium, which was first published by the Good Housekeeping Institute in London in 1952. The book’s aim is to teach the inexperienced beginner or the more experienced cook how to produce the everyday dishes needed in an average home. Although it is produced to meet the needs of every member of the family, there is emphasis on demonstrating home cooking to the young housewife or daughter living at home, as was the custom of this era!

Rock cakes originated in Great Britain. If you have never eaten one, a rock cake or rock bun, is a small fruit cake with a rough surface resembling a rock. During the rationing of provisions in World War II, the British Ministry of Food promoted baking rock cakes, as they require fewer eggs and less sugar than ordinary cakes. Bakers would also use oatmeal in the recipe when white flour was unavailable.

This type of Gingernut biscuit is popular in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and in many countries of the former British empire. It is believed that they were originally named Gingernuts because they were quite hard to break, like a nut. The amount of syrup that you use in the recipe influences the texture of the biscuit.

All measurements in these recipes are in the Imperial system so you will need to convert them if your scales are in metric.

Rock Cakes

 

Ingredients
12 ounces self-raising flour
A pinch of salt
½ teaspoon of grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon mixed spice
6 ounces margarine
6 ounces sugar
3 ounces currents
1 ½ ounces chopped peel
1 egg
Milk to mix

Method
Sieve the flour, salt and spices.
Rub in the butter and add the sugar, fruit and peel.
Mix the beaten egg and just enough milk to bind.
Using a teaspoon and a fork, place mixture in rocky heaps on a greased baking sheet (modern equivalent is to line a tray with baking paper or use a non-stick baking sheet).
Bake in a hot oven (450 degrees Fahrenheit or 232 degrees Celsius) for 15 – 20 minutes or until they slide about on the baking tray and are slightly brown underneath.

 

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Rock Cakes

 

Gingernuts

 

Ingredients
8 ounces flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground ginger
3 ounces butter
2 ounces sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup or treacle
The above quantities should make 8 -12 biscuits.

Method
Warm the syrup in a small pan.
Rub butter into the sieved dry ingredients. Add sugar.
Mix with the warmed syrup to form a dough.
Knead dough lightly in the mixing bowl. Form small portions of dough into balls and put them on onto a greased baking tray, flattening them slightly and allowing room to spread (modern equivalent is to line a tray with baking paper or use a non-stick baking sheet).
Bake the biscuits for about 10 minutes in a moderate oven (375 degrees Fahrenheit or 190 degrees Celsius). Let them cool a little before removing the biscuits from the baking tray to a wire rack.

Gingernuts

#waybackwhenwednesdays

Surprise book of the month

Beautiful Goats cover.docxBeautiful Goats: Portraits of Classic Breeds

Written by Felicity Stockwell  and photographed by Andrew Perris

I have noticed that Library staff love putting Beautiful Goats: Portraits of Classic Breeds on display and it always gets borrowed. So what is so appealing about this unusual title?

I asked myself “Why do we love goats?” They eat almost everything and can butt you in the backside, then appear to laugh about it.  However, goats are also sweet natured and have pretty faces. They have personality. Maybe they are endeared to us from childhood, when we listen to the story of the brave Billy Goats Gruff outwitting the vile troll on the bridge. One of my colleagues also told me that goats have become nearly as popular as cats on the Internet.

In the first few pages of Beautiful Goats: Portraits of Classic Breeds, Felicity Stockwell looks at the history and cultural significance of goats. She writes about the agricultural products derived from goats, goats as pets, wild goats and show competitions. However, the greatest part of this book is devoted to showcasing 40 breeds of goats. Photographs are accompanied by specific information about each breed that is featured.

These goats are simply photogenic and definitely beautiful. Each goat is photographed against a simple grey background, which reflects the colour of the book’s covers.  They do not require any other artifices. Andrew Perris skilfully manages to capture so much expression on each of these animal’s faces.  The goats look proud and happy to be photographed on set. They raise their heads in regal poses as if to say “This is my good side”.

The final section of the book ‘Reportage’ takes a fun look inside a goat show, where black and white snapshots are posted billboard style, accompanied by cute captions.

It is worth browsing through this lovely book, whether you have an interest in agriculture, you would like a cheeky pet or even if you just enjoy clever photography. You can reserve Beautiful Goats: Portraits of Classic Breeds. Or enquire next time you visit the Library.

 

 

How many books will you read in 2017?

How many books do you read in a year?

Some Tea Tree Gully Library staff recently compared their 2016 reading lists. It was interesting to see not just what books people read, but also how many books they got through.

Penny read 24. Hayley got through 25. Rose smashed 69 books – an impressive effort.

But no one had anything on Pixie. The magical Pixie, who read 94 books in 2016. An incredible 1.8 books a week.

Pixie created a reading challenge list at the start of last year and especially focused on reading classics, seeing as they’re not her thing. In the end, she got through nine classics – one short of her goal of 10. Amazing.

Here’s the full list of what Pixie read:

Classics
1. Dracula by Bram Stoker
2. The women in black by Madeleine St John
3. To kill a mockingbird by Harper Lee
4. Little men by Louisa Alcott
5. Jo’s boys by Louisa Alcott
6. Good wives by Louisa Alcott
7. Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
8. One flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
9. Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D H Lawrence

Non-fiction
10. Quiet by Susan Cain
11. Talking to my country by Stan Grant
12. I, Digital: personal collections in the digital era by Christopher A. Lee (ed)
13. The Life of I: the new culture of narcissism by Anne Manne
14. Shrill: notes from a loud woman by Lindy West
15. The Japanese mind: essentials of Japanese philosophy and culture by Charles Moore (ed)
16. Primates of park avenue by Wednesday Martin
17. Reckoning by Magda Szubanski
18. Love and death in Kathmandu by Amy Willesee & Mark Whittaker
19. Between you and me: Confessions of a comma queen by Mary Norris
20. Yes please by Amy Poehler
21. Bossypants by Tina Fey

Foreign titles
22. The angel’s game Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Spain)
23. My mother’s house by Colette (France)
24. The white tiger by Aravind Adiga (India)
25. Norwegian wood by Haruki Murakami (Japan)
26. The post-office girl by Stefan Zweig (Austria)
27. China Mao’s last dancer by Li Cunxin (China)
28. Breathless by Anne Sward (Sweden)
29. Ines of my soul by Isabel Allende (Peru/Chile)
30. The hairdresser of Harare by Tendai Huchu (Zimbabwe)
31. Half of a yellow sun  by Chimanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigeria)

Fiction
32. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Greene & David Levithan
33. The messenger by Markus Zusak
34. The language of flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
35. The god of small things Arundhati Roy
36. Purple Hibiscus by Chimanda Ngozi Adichie
37. The curious incident of the dog in the night by Mark Haddon
38. Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami
39. Lost and found by Brooke Davis
40. Witches abroad by Terry Pratchett
41. Odd hours by Dean Koontz

Sci-Fi
42. Some kind of fairytale by Graham Joyce
43. Stardust by Joseph Kanon
44. The prisoner of heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
45. Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton
46. The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham
47. The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness
48. Mountain shadow by Gregory David Roberts

Quirky
49. Everything is illuminated Jonathan Safran Foer
50. The love song of Johnny valentine by Teddy Wayne
51. Wild abandon by Joe Dunthorne
52. The truth about diamonds by Nicole Richie
53. The woman in the lobby by Lee Tulloch
54. A most immoral woman by Linda Jaivin

Young Adult Fiction
55. March by Geraldine Brooks
56. The bone dragon by Alexia Casale
57. Finding serendipity by Angelica Banks

Horror/crime
58. Wraith by Lee Tulloch
59. The vampire shrink by Lynda Hilburn
60. Career of evil by Robert Galbraith
61. A prick with a fork by Larissa Dubecki

Memoir
62. Bitter is the new black by Jen Lancaster
63. Blood bones and butter by Gabrielle Hamilton
64. Stephanie’s feasts and stories by Stephanie Alexander
65. The devil’s picnic by Taras Grescoe
66. Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks
67. Cyndi Lauper: A memoir by Cyndi Lauper
68. Weird Sister by Kate Pullinger
69. The anti cool girl by Rosie Waterland

Other reading
70 + 71. Divergent series (2 books) – Insurgent & Allegiant
72-83 Stackhouse series (11 books ) + The Sookie Stackhouse companion
84. Fun home by Alison Bechdel (graphic novel/ memoir)
85. We need new names by Noviolet Bulowayo
86. Pure by Andrew Miller
87. Japanese mythology by Juliet Piggott
88. Wildflower by Drew Barrymore
89. How to be happy by David Burton
90. Go set a watchman by Harper Lee
91. Candy girl by Diablo Cody
92. Rosewater and soda bread by Marsha Mehran
93. Be different by John Elder Robinson
94. Orange is the new black by Piper Kerman


Rose’s 10 favourite books read in 2016 (in no particular order)

  • The Fifth Season – NK Jemisin
  • The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante:
  • My Brilliant Friend
  • The Story of a New Name
  • Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay
  • The Story of the Lost Child
  • Into Thin Air – Jon Krakauer
  • The Wrath and The Dawn – Renee Ahdieh
  • Murder Must Advertise – Dorothy L Sayers
  • So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed – Jon Ronson
  • The Monogram Murders – Sophie Hannah

Penny’s 10 favourite books read in 2016 (in no particular order)

  • French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon
  • The Other Hand by Chris Cleave
  • The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
  • Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed
  • Shelter by Kara Rosenlund
  • Love x Style x Life by Garance Doré
  • Eat Real Food by David Gillespie
  • Use Your Words by Catherine Deveny
  • Mastery by Robert Greene (this book is a treasure!) 
  • Norweigan Wood by Haruki Murakami

As for Hayley, she loved ‘Big Magic’ by Elizabeth Gilbert, ‘Use Your Words’ by Catherine Deveny and ‘Princess Jellyfish’ by Akiko Higashimura in 2016.

Here’s a pic of her 2017 reading challenge:

hayley-book-list

Many of these books were presents given to Hayley in 2016. All of them are titles she really wants to read but hasn’t gotten around to yet. There are 12 of them – so she is aiming to read one book per month.


Do you set ambitious reading goals each year?

Do you aim to read a book a month, or a book a week? Or one book a year? Let us know.

Season’s Greetings

wrting-cardsEvery year, do you mechanically write out your Christmas cards at the last minute, using the same message for everybody, while getting a sore wrist?

Do you write “Merry Christmas and best wishes for the coming year, love from…” Even if that is what the card’s verse basically says?

cropped-santa

 

Or do you cringe when you have selected or made a beautiful blank card that needs a message? If you would like to saysomething more poetic and personalised, then Just the Right Christmas Words could be what you need.

just-the-right-christmas-words-cover-largeJudith Wibberley has created a selection of messages that you can use for your festive cards and invitations, to make the people who receive them feel special. She includes a variety of wording for Christmas and New Year greetings in both prose and in verse. There are messages for loved ones and different relatives, including families who have a new child.

Judith also writes for friends who are living overseas or serving in the armed forces. She includes a special section for Christian messages and for writing to Jewish friends celebrating Hanukkah. So as is noted on page 155 of Just the Right Christmas Words,“This Christmas, Spend a little, Laugh a lot, And enjoy.”

You can reserve Just the Right Christmas Words through the online catalogue or enquire when you visit the Library.