Did you know you can check out Science Experiment Kits from the library? Thanks to the students at the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science (TAMS) at UNT, the Denton Public Library has 25 different Experiment Kits available at all 3 branches.
I took one of these kits home to my 5 year old daughter, and it was a big hit. The kits include 3 different experiments each, and instructions that were simple enough for her to understand. Most of the supplies needed to do the experiments are common household items, if not; they are included in the box. The TAMS students who created the boxes even included an explanation of “The Science Behind the Magic”. It’s great to see her learning and engaged over the summer break! So far, Light and Color and Music have been her favorites. Let us know which ones you have tried, and how your experiments worked out.
Click here to see the Experiment Kits available at your branch.
Grace Smart is a Library Assistant II at the Emily Fowler Central Library.
I saw my first Britcom (American slang for “British Sitcom”) when I accidentally stumbled across an episode of Rising Damp on my local PBS station. I think I was about 12, and I was hooked. The comedic chemistry between Richard Beckinsale and Leonard Rossiter struck a nerve with me, and of course, I found the flirty spinster character played by Frances De La Tour hysterically funny. I was delighted recently to find Ms. De La Tour back on the small screen in the hilarious new Britcom, Vicious, which also stars Derek Jacobi and Ian McKellen. The first season of Vicious is available at the Denton Public Library, as well as a number of other terrific shows from the other side of the pond.
If you enjoy shows with strong, memorable characters, Keeping Up Appearances and As Time Goes By are great fun. You must ‘meet’ Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced ‘Bouquet’) at once, if you haven’t already! The Vicar of Dibley introduces an assortment of interesting village folk, who aren’t quite sure if they are pleased with their new female vicar. If you were a fan of Friends, you’ll love Coupling.
If you have a strong stomach for uncomfortable awkwardness, you absolutely must see The Office with Ricky Gervais as David Brent. Yes, I loved the American version of The Office; I watched it from beginning to end. But after the first 4-5 episodes, it really became something else. If you like The Office, you may also like Black Books with the Irish comedian Dylan Moran. His bookshop owner character Bernard Black prefers wine consumption to actually helping any of his customers find books to purchase.
Comedy in sketch format is done brilliantly by David Walliams and Matt Lucas in Little Britain; please be aware of the envelope-pushing done very gleefully! If you prefer your comedy with a flavor of sci-fi, you may enjoy Red Dwarf in which a misfit crew travels through space in a mining ship 3 million years in the future. History buffs may find their funny bone itched with the Black Adder series with Rowan Atkinson. History is re-written as Richard III actually loves his nephew and whom eventually takes the throne as Richard IV – hilarity then ensues as he has a scheming son, Edmund, Duke of Edinburgh. His descendents somehow find their way through time during the Elizabethan period, the Regency, and World War I.
Each of these shows can be found at the Denton Public Library – please let us know what we can help you find!
- Kerry Montz, Assistant Branch Manager, North Branch and Business Liaison Librarian (who also has a very cunning plan…….)
Our memories of favorite foods are often created at family gatherings like Sunday dinners, family reunions, cookouts, and over holidays. This is where family members bring out their best dishes to share and pass on family lore. One of my favorite family food memories was over Sunday dinners where my mother would serve her wonderful Potatoes Au Gratin. She called it “Masterpiece.” I asked her one time how this dish got its name. She told me that it was the first dish she learned to make as a child. When she proudly served it, her daddy proclaimed it “Masterpiece,” and it has been known as that ever since.
You can preserve your special memories by remembering the favorite foods of your childhood and passing the stories along to your family. Write down these stories or record them while talking to family members at gatherings. Use your smart phone or a digital recorder and make copies to share. You will be surprised at how many other family stories these will generate.
Photo of Virginia Nobles. Courtesy of the Portal to Texas History.
Kathy Strauss, Assistant Branch Manager of the Emily Fowler Central Library
On June 28, 1914, a Bosnian revolutionary assassinated the heir to the Austria-Hungary throne and set in motion a series of events that culminated in the First World War. August is the 100th anniversary of the start of this war, and several books have been published within the past couple of years commemorating the anniversary. These include Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War by Max Hastings, and The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 by Christopher Clark.
Another important book on the outbreak and early stage of the war is Barbara Tuchman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning narrative The Guns of August, which was published in 1962. Before I read this book I had thought of World War I mostly as a horrible stalemate, full of slaughter that gained neither side a real advantage. I hadn’t given much thought to what took place between the assassination of Franz Ferdinand and the start of the war. It hadn’t occurred to me that a complex series of events and movements preceded the trenches and no-man’s land that defined the war for me. Nor was I familiar with the battles in Eastern Europe, where the war began. I gained a lot from reading Tuchman’s enjoyable, fast-paced narrative.
These books show that this popular image of stalemate is only part of the story. Max Hastings points out in the introduction to his book mentioned above “It is widely supposed that the first day of the 1916 Battle of the Somme was the bloodiest day of the entire conflict. This is not so. In August 1914 the French army…fought battles utterly unlike those that came later, and at even more terrible daily cost” (Hastings, p. xvii). He estimates that in the first five months of the war 329,000 French soldiers were killed, including 27 thousand on August 22 alone (pp. xvii, 181). The other books I’ve mentioned also make similar points.
The authors also present different interpretations about the causes of the war. Was it a tragic accident or was it inevitable? Were the countries involved powerless to prevent it? Did they willingly and enthusiastically embrace the conflict? Could any country have prevented it? For instance, Christopher Clark in The Sleepwalkers argues that Europe stumbled into the conflict; Barbara Tuchman (The Guns of August) refuses to ascribe responsibility but shows that many countries were enthusiastic for war; and Max Hastings places primary responsibility squarely on one of the combatants. And how did the citizens and soldiers greet the war? Max Hastings uses letters, diaries, and journals of ordinary people to show the fear, disgust, exhilaration, boredom, enthusiasm, and disappointment elicited by the war. Barbara Tuchman focuses on the actions of military and political leaders. Christopher Clark writes in his book mentioned above “Public reaction to the news of war gave the lie to the claim, so often voiced by statesmen, that the hands of decision-makers were tied by popular opinion. There was, to be sure, no resistance to the call to arms….Underlying this readiness to serve was not enthusiasm for war as such, but a defensive patriotism…” (Clark, p. 553).
Of course, for a long time the combatants had plans for a coming war – Austria had Plans B and R, Germany had the Schlieffen Plan, France had Plan XVII, Russia had Plans G, A, and 19. And they were all determined to both get the upper hand and show that the war had been forced upon them. Had they made different decisions in response to the assassination of the Archduke, could war have been prevented or would it just have been postponed?
When I read history books I always expect to get detailed accounts of the major events. Also, I am often surprised by the small, unexpected details included. For instance, I learned from Max Hastings’s book that one of the British soldiers wounded in the early days of the war was a Private Ronald Colman. This is not surprising; soldiers come from all walks of life. But during the war, this battalion (the London Scottish Regiment) also included Basil Rathbone, Claude Rains, and Herbert Marshall (Hastings, p. 486). Imagine Foreign Correspondent, Casablanca, A Tale of Two Cities, and the Sherlock Holmes movies without these actors.
If this 100th anniversary has sparked your interest in the First World War, whether you’re interested in the grand sweep of events or the perspectives of the men and women caught up in these events, the Denton Public Library has the information you’re looking for. We have the books mentioned above and many others. We have encyclopedias and articles. We have online resources. And we have the staff to help you find them.
Since we are talking about Doctor Who… I will admit it, I am a Whovian. (It is a real word; you can find it in the Oxford English Dictionary) I have been a fan of the Series since I was a child. The first Doctor Who I remember watching was Tom Baker, the Doctor with the really long scarf. Now this was in the late 70’s early 80’s. The show’s special effects were cheesy, but that was ok because other than that it was smart, humorous, full of adventure and just downright fun to watch. But what I remember most about that Doctor Who was it was a show that my mother and I watched together, and shared the experience. Even though I was on the cusp of becoming a surly teenager it was something we enjoyed doing together.
Now some 30 odd years later I am watching the new Doctor Who with my 9 year old son. The series has been through some rocky times. (If you want to learn more the library has histories, guides and more!) It is still a little cheesy but the special effects are much better, it is still smart, humorous and downright fun to watch, and we love it. And I hope sometime in the far distant future, he will look back with fond memories of watching the show with me.
The first full episode featuring the new Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi, will premier tonight at 7 p.m. on BBC America. If you are not already a fan, this would be the perfect opportunity to start watching!
- Laura Douglas
Librarian at Emily Fowler Central Library
Diana Gabaldon’s extremely popular book, and series, has become a much-anticipated mini-series on Starz. Watching the first episode on August 9 drew me back to the first book, checking to see how accurate the dialog and story-line was. I was not disappointed. One of the things that has captured every fan’s imagination throughout the years of reading the books is what Jamie and Claire would look like. We now have faces to the characters, and they are very believable, but each person also has the picture in their mind of how they should look.
If you have seen the first episode, continue watching. Hopefully they have piqued your interest. Now is the time, however, to start reading the books. The Denton Public Library can start you on your way. Just walk through the stones.