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Pioneer Girl: A Review by Ms. Pang

Pioneer Girl: A Review by Ms. Pang

Source: Pioneer Girl By Laura Ingalls Wilder Edited by Pamela Smith Hill

Source: Pioneer Girl
By Laura Ingalls Wilder
Edited by Pamela Smith Hill

Have you ever read historical fiction and been consumed by the question of what really happened? If you wondered about the real life of the Ingalls family from the Little House on the Prairie series, Pioneer Girl is the book for you. I grew up reading about Laura, Mary, Pa, Ma, and little baby Grace, their dog Jack, and their travels across the west by covered wagon in the decades after the Civil War. The books were written in the 1930s for children, and they were based on Laura’s life. I wondered, as I grew older, what was real, and what was fiction? Now, thanks to editor Pamela Smith Hill, I have been able to dive into Laura Ingalls Wilder’s first autobiographical account, Pioneer Girl, fully annotated with extensive research, illustrated with amazing primary sources. Hill includes an extensive introduction covering Wilder’s writing process and her collaboration with her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, who also published novels based on her mother’s experiences. If you ever wondered about the real Nellie Olson (based on several girls) or the railroad company Pa worked for, or the cutter Almanzo Wilder drove, it is all here, footnoted and ready for you to dive in.

 

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My Favorite Things: Political Fact-Checking Websites

My Favorite Things: Political Fact-Checking Websites

Source: "Academic fact fight - debate" by Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig on Flickr.com

Source: “Academic fact fight – debate” by Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig on Flickr.com

With just over a year until the 2016 presidential elections, we have a broad field of candidates and many debates in our near future. But when you hear the claims and counter-claims the candidates are making, how do you decide what to believe?

Luckily, there are increasing numbers of political fact-checking websites, non-partisan political watchdog organizations that research the veracity of what politicians say. Here are some sites that you can visit if you have a question about any of the arguments you hear:

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 9.28.06 PM The League of Women Voters is a great place to start. Often, candidates will make claims about other candidate’s positions. The LWV is a citizen-run organization that provides voter information, so it is a great place to see what candidates say about their own positions on various topics. Also, it has the broadest coverage of all the sites mentioned here.
Factcheck.org is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. It describes itself as being a “nonpartisan, nonprofit ‘consumer advocate’ for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics.” It follows and critiques TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases. Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 8.38.55 PM
Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 9.22.08 PM From The Center for Responsive Politics, an organization originally founded by a bipartisan group of Senators who were worried about the impact of money on politics, Opensecrets.org advocates for transparency in government through exposing political contributions. It tracks and analyzes federal campaign contributions and lobbying activities.
Politifact.com, by the researchers and reporters of the Tampa Bay Times, keeps an eye on promises made by President Obama, congressional Republicans, and governors and mayors around the country. They use Truth-O-Meters and Flip-O-Meters to rate the quality of arguments politicians make and how they vacillate on issues. Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 8.29.45 PM
Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 3.11.00 PM ProPublica.org is an independent newsroom that covers a wide variety of topics. This non-profit organization “produces investigative journalism in the public interest,” including coverage related to elections and political campaigns.
Ever wonder who runs our elections? Learn more about how our voting system works, what your district is, what ballot measures are up-and-coming, and more at the California Secretary of State’s Election Division. Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 2.58.12 PM

 

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Four to Read More — New Points of View

Four to Read More — New Points of View

And now we present Four to Read More, mini collections of four books that share some common theme, whether it’s the name of a character, a cover design quirk, or something else. Inspired by Kelly Jensen’s “Three on a YA Theme” series at Book Riot (take a lookwe’ll wait!), this series will highlight some books you may have missed on the shelves.

To kick off the school year, we are looking at novels offering new perspectives on classic stories. They are books that let us into the point of view of characters other than the original narrator. Gregory Maguire’s Wicked one example of a book using this device, building backstory for The Wizard of Oz. Here are four others that you can find in the library.

March by Geraldine Brooks

The Third Witch by Rebecca Reisert

march cover third witch cover
Throughout Little Women, Jo and her sisters pine for their father. This book follows Mr. March through his experiences as a soldier in the Civil War.
(available in print)
Shakespeare’s Macbeth, from the point of view of one of the witches.
(available in print )

Grendel by John Gardner

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

grendel gardiner cover wide sargasso sea cover
Perhaps Beowulf‘s Grendel just needs someone to hear his side of the story….(available in print) In this prequel to Jane Eyre, Mr. Rochester’s first wife tells of her childhood and early marriage.
(available in print)

Do you have an idea for a Four to Read More theme? Email us and let us know!

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Upcoming Bay Area Literary Events

Upcoming Bay Area Literary Events

As you get ready to start the new school year, be sure to schedule time to visit with some of your favorite authors, too!

September 4, 7:00pm, @ Kepler’s
Are you waiting to find out what happens next with Trial By Fire’s alter-egos, Lily and Lillian? Hear from author Josephine Angelini and check out the sequel: Firewalker.

September 11, 7pm, @ Books Inc.
Nicola Yoon shares her debut novel, Everything, Everything; and David Levithan discusses Another Day, his sequel to Every Day. In San Francisco.

September 18, 7:00pm, @ Kepler’s
Cassandra Clare and Holly Black come together at Kepler’s to discuss their latest book, The Cooper Gauntlet.

September 22, 7:00pm, @ Kepler’s
Rae Carson, author of Girl of Fire and Thorns, is visiting to discuss her hew novel,Walk on Earth a Stranger. Following a young woman with magical powers through the California Gold Rush, Carson said of this book that she wanted to explore a rare time and place in history when women had financial power equal to men.

September 28, 7:00pm, @ A Great Good Place for Books
Ava Dellaira celebrates the paperback debut of Love Letters to the Dead.

 

 

Have you gone to one of these events? Tell us about it!

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No Library This Summer? Think Again!

No Library This Summer? Think Again!

photo 2Worried that you’ll miss the Casti Library this summer? You don’t have to! Our collection of more than 1000 ebooks is open 24/7. You’ll be able to log in whenever you like.

Ebooks are readable on many different devices and apps. Learn more on our FAQ or stop by the library to talk to one of your librarians before you head out on summer vacation. We can also show you how to download audiobooks from your public library. You should also take a look at the column near the entrance of the library, where your classmates and teachers have posted book recommendations and their own plans for summer reading.

So what’s in the digital library? Something for everyone, we hope! From childhood classics to YA to adult; from science fiction to historical fantasy to contemporary realism; from popular bestsellers to spectacular under-the-radar releases; the collection has a lot to choose from. If you need a book recommendation, click on the purple square to your right and look at our recommended reading booklet, Pinterest account, NoveList Plus, and recommended other sources for finding great books.

If you are doing an internship or academic enrichment program this summer, you’ll be happy to know that our databases are open all summer as well! You may even find them fun to peruse for pleasure reading. 2014-15 Library TA Kiana B. ’16 will tell you all about how great databases are for finding information on fun topics you never knew people wrote about. Click on the blue square to access all the library’s databases.

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Our Pinterest Is Busy!

Our Pinterest Is Busy!

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 10.53.14 AMHave you checked our Pinterest page lately? We’ve been adding hundreds of book recommendations to make sure you always have something to read – and they now include recommendations from our ebook library as well.

If you’re a middle schooler who loves realistic and historical fiction, you’ll want to check out our board For Fans of Wendy Mass. It has some great choices of books starring strong, quirky, and smart boys and girls in realistic situations that you may recognize from your own life or that of your friends’.

If fiction is not your thing, we have a board dedicated to Arts, Crafts, Style and Cooking and another full of Autobiographies and Memoirs. You’ll find inspiring stories of amazing artists, get ideas for crafty projects indoors and out, or learn about the lives of totally normal but totally remarkable people – famous, infamous, or next door.

Comics fans will want to click on Can’t Get Enough Graphic Novels for fiction and nonfiction books told through words and pictures. Books in the perpetual favorite post-apocalyptic and dystopian genres can be found on SciFi, Futuristic, and Dystopia.

Another new board, See the World Differently, highlights books about the different ways people experience the world. If you loved books like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time or Marcelo in the Real World or Out of My Mind, you’ll want to look here for more books to read. You may see yourself in one of these characters, or maybe you’ll consider a perspective you never thought of before.

Is there a theme or genre you’d like recommendations for? Let us know!

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