@ Your Library
This spring, we celebrated the 20th year of the Global Reading Challenge! This quiz-bowl program is for 4th and 5th graders. Students form teams at their schools, read ten books chosen by KPL children’s librarians, then work as a team to answer questions about the books, earning points with correct answers.
Our intent is for kids to have fun reading the books and participating in a team activity. The ten books are carefully chosen to reflect our diverse world and to show characters successfully solving problems, contributing to their communities, and learning that people are more alike than they are different.
The first Challenge, in 1994, featured 19 teams from Lincoln, North Christian, and MLK Westwood; the winning team was the “Bookworm Warriors” from MLK Westwood. This year we had 129 teams from 17 schools! The District Final Challenge featured teams from Edison, Arcadia, Prairie Ridge, Spring Valley, and Northglade. The champion was the “Crazy Cougars” team from Prairie Ridge. Thanks to the students, parents, teachers, principals, and coaches for another successful year of books and reading!
Over this summer, librarians will be reading and choosing the books for the 2015 Global Reading Challenge. Team applications will be accepted in October and the book titles will be announced in December.
Global Reading Challenge
Well, here it is, the last day of Black History Month and all month I have been reflecting on what an honor it is to be working at a trailblazing library system, such as Kalamazoo Public Library. Why would I call KPL a trailblazer? Well, it all started with Mrs. Alma Harrod Powell. She was before her time. She went from being a housekeeper to a Library Assistant to a renowned storyteller and historian. It all started while working in the home of a world traveler, Mr. Larry Firth. Mr. Firth would return from Africa with artifacts that heightened Mrs. Powell interest in African history. In 1944 she participated in an apprenticeship course at KPL and in 1946 she became a KPL Library Assistant. In 1957 Mrs. Powell received a citation from the Michigan Library Association which acknowledged her skill as a storyteller. In 1968 a small library room in Lincoln School opened and was named Alma Powell Library Project. Mrs. Powell was followed by Mary Mace Spradling and Roberta Cheney. They were trailblazers in their own rights.
This all happened at KPL in Kalamazoo, Michigan before the civil rights movement. As a black female Mrs. Powell was a pioneer and Kalamazoo Public Library was a trailblazer. And we keep right on blazing because this year KPL will be the first library in Michigan to have its own antiracism team. We have begun selecting a team and we will begin training and working towards institutional equality.
Yes, as I said, it is truly an honor to be a part of this historical establishment.
1,000 Books Before Kindergarten is an exciting new program at Kalamazoo Public Library for all children from birth to entering Kindergarten. It's super simple, self paced, and provides a way for your child to earn a prize for every 50 books you read aloud to her and then a gift and certificate of completion when you reach 1,000 books. More important, since reading aloud to your child is the best way to prepare for kindergarten, 1,000 Before Kindergarten is a way for you to do just that - read lots of books with your child!
A parent asked me if the books she reads to her child for 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten need to be library books. They do not. While Kalamazoo Public Library certainly has many thousands of books we can all share together with our preschool aged children, you might find yourself reading a book aloud to your child that you found at the Friends bookstore or that was passed along to you or purchased elsewhere. Of course this is just great! And the way you read the books is also completely up to you. Some books are made to be sung to your child. Other books benefit from the animal sounds you supply. There is a whole world of fun to be had reading to our children.
It's easy to sign up at the any KPL location. Learn more about 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten at KPL and continue down the road to Kindergarten. And if you're in the mood for a fun read aloud that will help you think ahead to Springtime, check out 999 Frogs Wake Up.
999 Frogs and 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten!
The newly renovated Children's Room is open and ready for you to explore! There are many exciting new features including a parenting section, folk and fairy tales highlighted in the Alice in Wonderland Room, and more display space for new Fiction, new Non-fiction, and new Picture Books.
The Story Place has room for Lego at the Library, story time programs, and more. I hope you'll take time to come in and see the new Children's Room over the holiday break.
Come See the New Children's Room!
We've been busy renovating the Children's Room. Now there's a brand new Story Place! Soon there will be a new shelving layout and an exciting new Fairy Tale room that continues to feature Conrad Kaufman's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland themed murals and Jamie Rife's "Tall Small Alice" stained glass installation that so many have enjoyed over the years. The Children's Room will be closed Monday, December 16th, through Wednesday, December 18th, in order to change the way the room is arranged. The new Story Place will remain open for Toddler Storytime on the morning of Tuesday, December 17th. When Children's Room reopens on Thursday, December 19th, we hope you'll find an exciting new layout.
We're in the brand new Story Place this morning,
We're reading stories and we're having fun,
We're glad you came to Story Time this morning,
I hope that you will want to sing along!
Children's Room Changes
Our next Musical Storytime is coming right up! Last time, the multi-talented Mr. Ben Lau showed, played, and told us all about the pedal steel guitar! What an interesting mechanical musical instrument! It was neat to see how the cables, rods, and pedals work with Ben's musical playing to create music. Plus the pedal steel guitar makes some pretty great letter crane sounds!
At Musical Storytime, we read stories, sing songs, play musical games and generally have fun with music, songs, and our imaginations. Everyone is always welcome. The program is designed for children from preschool age up to about eight years old.
Pedal Steel Musical Storytime
Octy, who speaks with musical notes, not words as you and I do, wanted to let you know that the surgery was successful. Like Adele, John Mayer, and others lately, it was an issue with the vocal cords. Octy was overdoing it and was having a difficult time speaking and singing in tune. You might be glad to know that Octy's voice is recovering nicely. Octy would love to hear from you, especially with messages of “speedy recovery” or “best wishes”. Feel free to drop Octy a line via the mailbox in Children’s Room (see picture) or through the USPS addressed to “Octy” care of: Children’s Room, Kalamazoo Public Library, 315 S Rose St, Kalamazoo, MI 49007.
Speedy Recovery, Octy!
If you’ve been on the second floor of Central Library recently, you’ve seen some signs of renovation. Soon, some of that work will move to the first floor Children’s Room. Yes, we’ll soon see some changes that will support our new emphasis as a Family Place Library. That designation will align us with over 300 libraries in 23 states which have made a commitment to serving families with children from birth to age 5. Here’s the website: http://www.familyplacelibraries.org/.
What makes a Family Place Library special? Here are the core components:
- Strong collections of materials (books, music, toys) for babies, toddlers, parents and caregivers.
- The Parent-Child Workshop, which is a 5-week program for toddlers and parents, which emphasizes the importance of play and the importance of parents as a child’s first teachers.
- Coalition-building with community organizations to develop programs and services that meet local needs.
- Outreach to new and non-traditional library users, especially parents and very young children.
- Developmentally-appropriate programming for very young children and their parents.
- Library staff trained in family support, child development, parent education, and best practices.
Here at KPL, we’re just getting started on implementing Family Place Libraries. One of the most exciting projects is expanding the space in Children’s Room at Central Library so that we have more room to play! Soon, you’ll see a brand-new Activity Room open, the Story Room will lose one of its walls, and some things will be re-arranged. We’re excited about this time of growth and hope that you’ll be a part of our development as a Family Place Library!
Family Place Libraries
The Kalamazoo Public Schools 2013 Summer Reading lists are a great place to get reading suggestions to read twenty minutes or more per day. The lists are arranged by the grade students to which students are "rising" when school starts in the fall. These titles are great choices for Summer Reading or any time of year, but they are just the tip of the iceberg. Looking for more great summer reading ideas? Come visit! We'll be glad to see you! Don't forget to check in for Summer Reading Games with your gameboard or get signed up if you haven't already!
So Many Summer Reading Choices
The Kalamazoo Public Library is celebrating the Earth with a variety of programs for all ages in the coming weeks. This afternoon at Oshtemo, tweens and teens can make crafts from recycled items. On Saturday, also at Oshtemo, join us for a family-friendly outdoor concert with the Earthwork Music Collective. The Kalamazoo chapter of the American Chemical Society will be at the event to talk about the impact chemistry has on the planet, and the Organic Gypsy will sell delicious food from her truck. You can learn to make your own green, nontoxic cleaning products at Eastwood on April 23, and learn how to make compost for your garden on April 30 at Powell. KPL's librarians will be at the People's Food Co-op on April 27 to read stories for Grow It Yourself Day.
What are you doing to celebrate Earth Day?
Earth Day Concert 2013
It was a Musical Storytime to remember when special guest Jay Gavan brought in his sitar, one of the best known instruments from the classical Indian musical tradition. Jay told us all about the sitar and accompanied us on sing-along versions of "I've Been Workin' on the Railroad", "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" (Octy's Favorite), "On Top of Spaghetti", "Buffalo Gals Won't You Come Out Tonight", and, to celebrate the start of baseball season, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game".
Join us for the next Musical Storytime on Monday, April 8, at 6:30 pm.
What fun we had at Wednesday’s Family Literacy Night program for kids and parents from El Sol Elementary. We had stations set up all through Central Library, staffed by El Sol teachers, with activities for the kids. There was library card signup going on, kids were making Reading Buddy puppets, doing Mad Libs, learning about accessing info on the KPL website, seeing the Local History room in action, and even having a back-room tour!
Staff from many departments helped out: Spanish-language help from several library staff members, a great visual display of photos created by Local History staff, Facilities Management crews who set up, tore down, and cleaned up everything at the end of the night. Staff at the public desks did a great job giving directional assistance and helping families feel welcome here.
I know that an event like this can seem disruptive in a library, but it really does help us introduce new families to KPL so that they see the library as a place that has some relevance for them. It’s also an opportunity for us to strengthen our connections to the principal and teachers at a school. We had a great time last night and are already making plans for next year’s event.
Family Literacy Night
Have you checked out KPL’s Local Organization Directory lately? It lists more than 900 social service agencies, neighborhood associations, faith-based organizations and other groups which serve the Kalamazoo area. Annually-updated entries include contact information, services provided, the organization’s goals or mission, nonprofit status, and more. It is free to list, and of course it’s free to use!
How do we use the Local Organization Directory at the library? We refer patrons to local services, share contact info from organizations, create lists of places in town that offer certain services, and more.
To access the directory, click Local Information from the Popular section on our home page, and choose "Search Local Organizations." Do a keyword search, or search by Name, Subject or Nonprofit Status. Note that there are several underlined subjects in each record. Click on one of those subjects to view all the other records with the same subject and find more services in the area.
If you’re affiliated with a nonprofit organization, check out the ONEplace @ KPL web page to learn more about resources for nonprofits available at KPL.
Finally, if your organization isn’t included in the directory, but you would like it to appear, please email me.
Local Organization Directory
Through the generous support of the Kalamazoo Astronomical Society, the Oshtemo Branch Library of KPL is pleased to offer a telescope available for check out! The telescope, an Orion Star Blast 4.5" Astro, comes with a kit that includes all the tools you need to observe the skies, along with a simple instruction manual and star maps.
Members of the Kalamazoo Astronomical Society will be at the Oshtemo Library on Monday, July 16 at 3pm to talk with the public about the telescope, astronomy, and KAS. At 6pm they'll teach you how to use a variety of telescopes, including the library's Orion Star Blast. If you have an old telescope collecting dust, bring it in and they'll teach you how to use it! Then, on August 8, they'll host an observation session outside the Oshtemo Library.
Beginning Tuesday, July 17, the telescope may be checked out at the Oshtemo Branch Library for up to two weeks. You may place a hold on the telescope, but it can only be picked up at and returned to the Oshtemo Branch.
While anyone may attend the telescope workshop and observation session, please be aware that the telescope is available to Kalamazoo Public Library resident borrowers in good standing, who are at least 18 years old and have a valid license.
Backyard Astronomer's Guide
Staff from the Oshtemo library and KPL’s IT department were joined by folks from the Oshtemo Township Park last week for a test run of our upcoming collaboration, Movies Under the Stars. We can’t wait to screen the first film in our series, “The Muppets Take Manhattan”, this Thursday, June 21 at the Oshtemo Township Park! Please join us for the movie at 9:15pm, and don’t forget to bring a lawn chair or blanket, bug spray, and a flash light!
The Muppets Take Manhattan
Before Spring officially arrives, I wanted to share a winter tradition which happens each December at the Oshtemo Branch Library.
During the month of December, volunteers from the Oshtemo Grange bring a Mitten Tree to the Library with the thought that our patrons will decorate the tree with donations of mittens, gloves, hats and scarves which they then donate to local schools. Just as in past years our mitten tree was loaded with items. This year alone Oshtemo patrons donated 59 hats; 26 scarves; 120 pairs of mittens, 16 hat and mitten sets plus other warm items for a total of 227 pieces! Oshtemo Branch Library patrons pride themselves on knitting for the tree throughout the year and their beautiful handiwork adds to the special beauty of the Mitten Tree.
This year a Daisy Troop visited the Oshtemo Branch Library for a tour and storytime. We of course had fun reading mitten stories and I shared two of my very favorite ones. Everyone should enjoy Knitty Kitty by David Elliott and The Missing Mitten Mystery by Steven Kellogg. The highlight of the visit was when each Daisy member decorated the Mitten Tree by adding their mitten donations.
What a wonderful tradition to carry on by the partnering with the Library and the Grange. We look forward to next December.
Oshtemo Branch Library
On a Tuesday evening in January the Alma Powell Branch had its first Urban Fiction book discussion. The group was totally geeked about Ashley and Jaquavis’ book The Trophy Wife. It was generally agreed upon that it was a love story full of mystery and intrigue.
On March 27 we will be diving into our next book Gunz and Roses by Keisha Ervin.
Please join us at 6:00 for good discussion, fellowship and refreshments.
Urban Fiction Book Group
Welcome to February! I truly love this month, mostly because the harshest part of winter seems almost behind us, especially this year. I am always looking forward to Spring! For now though, I will focus on Valentine’s Day, a bright spot during a long Michigan winter for many people. For years, Kalamazoo Public Library patrons have celebrated Valentine’s Day by making cards for local nursing home residents. Once again, our craft tables are ready with stickers, stamps, doilies, and hearts. So come on out and help us make Valentines for our friends in nursing homes. Now through Feburary 9, during open hours at all branches. All ages welcome!
From the Heart at KPL
On December 13th we're having our second Pizza & Pages book discussion at Powell. We had 12 girls to sign up and read a book called Prime Choice. Prime Choice is the first edition in a teen series by Stephanie Perry Moore. In the Perry Skky Jr. Series author Stephanie Perry Moore is writing from a male perspective, so even though a bunch of girls signed up for it, young men might find this series interesting, too. We’ve heard from the young ladies who've read the book that they loved it.
As the December holiday season rolls around, it seems like it might be a good time to look back at KPL’s concert performances and try to catch up with what’s been happening over the past several weeks.
The highlight of Summer Reading was of course KPL’s amazing end-of-summer concert featuring The Verve Pipe. What a show! The band gave a terrific all-ages performance in Bronson Park on August 28th, and played a bunch of tunes from The Family Album, with a couple of classics thrown in for good measure. I’m honestly not sure who had more fun, the band or the crowd! If you missed it, the band was kind enough to let us post the entire show on our Concert Archives page!
Back in the Van Deusen Room, Joe Wang and the Test Pilots pulled off a great show in September with a full set of originals and a couple of cool covers. (When was the last time you heard a live band play a Vapors tune?!) Typically an electric band, the library setting allowed “Joe” (Peter George, Tom Cross, Mark Kalinowski, Tony Nuismer) to stretch out with a rare acoustic set that let their excellent songwriting abilities shine through. As the JWTP Twitter feed says, “The KPL gig has been immortalized on YouTube.. there’s no denying it.” You can see and hear the entire show via our Concert Archives page! …And if you get a chance to see them play live, do it—you won’t be disappointed.
Midnight Cattle Callers
One of my favorite shows of the series was an October performance by Gifts or Creatures. You might remember that Brandon and Bethany Foote were a highlight of KPL’s Earth Week Celebration at the Oshtemo Branch Library last April. For our 55th live show, the husband-wife duo returned to the Van Deusen Room with some help from good friends Joshua Keller, Ty Forquer, and Ian Gorman. They worked their way through more than a dozen homespun originals, before label-mates Laurel Premo and Michael Beauchamp (Red Tail Ring) added vocal harmonies to the set-ending version of “I Shall Be Released.” If you like truly inspired Michigan-rooted songwriting, Brandon and Bethany are two of the best! See and hear the full performance on our Concert Archives page.
November brought even more amazing talent to KPL. West Michigan-based Midnight Cattle Callers (another personal favorite!) provided an evening of old-time, country, bluegrass, jazz and swing on November 16th. The following weekend, KPL participated in the Michigan Festival of Sacred Music, with inspired music and conversation by flutists Michael Chikuzen Gould (Japanese shakuhachi) and Juan Manuel Cruz (Native American flute). Art Hop on December 2nd featured a wonderful set by classical guitarist Jeff Dwarshuis.
Michael Chikuzen Gould
So what’s next? Well... KPL’s December concert, #59 in the series and our 20th this year (but who’s counting?!) will be Kalamazoo’s own up-and-coming country singer Shelagh Brown. Shelagh received an honorable mention in the 2011 Gazette Readers’ Choice Awards, and won a nationwide contest to sing a duet with country superstar Josh Gracin. She has an amazing voice! Don’t miss Shelagh’s special KPL concert in the Van Deusen Room on Wednesday, December 14th!
And speaking of the holiday season, here’s an idea... the works produced by these or any of our other fine local artists would make great gifts for anyone on your list! Think global, buy local!
Ho Ho Ho! Happy listening!
Juan Manuel Cruz, part of the Michigan Festival of Sacred Music
It's time for Singalong Storytime! Join us in the Van Deusen Room at the Central Library at 6:30 pm this Thursday, October 20th, for a very special Singalong Storytime with special guest Rachel Flanigan, the clarinetist from the Red Sea Pedestrians! Rachel will show us the clarinet and play along with some special songs! Of course, we'll have some great read alouds, some puppet fun, and songs to sing along with or listen to.
We estimate close to 1,000 attended the “Banned Books Art Hop and Read Out” here on Friday evening!
If you attended, you saw the wide array of artistic interpretations of the six banned or challenged books and heard emotional readings from all six of them. I heard several attendees whisper that they were surprised at the books, surprised that someone in some community had challenged that particular book.
Banned Books Art Contest Winners
- Overall Senior Winner ($1000 – Randal Brumitt, “The Hope List”
- Overall Junior Winner ($150) – Hannah Higgins, “Huck Finn”
- 1st Runner-Up Junior Winner ($100) – Maryangela Thornton, “Stay Alive”
- 2nd Runner-Up Junior Winner ($50) – Maureen Reed, “Huck & Jim”
- Honorable Mention Senior (TIE)
– Cathy Germay, “No Nigger”
– Kaitlynn Radabaugh, “Stand Up”
- Honorable Mention Junior – Essence Cline Coe, “The Good Life”
- People’s Choice Senior – Cathy Germay, “No Nigger”
- People’s Choice Junior – Maureen Reed, “Huck & Jim”
The winners are listed on our website, the books are available in our collection... they aren’t banned in Kalamazoo.
This annual event gives us pause to celebrate the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment.
Author Deborah Ann Percy reads from “Hunger Games” during the Banned Books Art Hop and Read Out.
Those of you who are familiar with my previous posts are probably well aware that I am passionate about animals; and that includes all animals. Among the many different things that I love about my work at Eastwood is the opportunity that it provides me to plan various programs for the branch. And as you might have guessed, my favorite programs to plan and host are animal related. Watching people of all ages being exposed to and educated about creatures that they would otherwise never come in contact with is a particular joy! And recently we had two such wonderful occasions.
The word “reptile” produces many emotions in people. To say that most of these are not very positive would be an understatement. Young and old alike are fearful of most reptiles, but especially so of snakes, lizards, and alligators due to the perceived inherent danger that they present. In the extreme, some folks are even afraid of looking at color photos of some reptilians, and making them do so produces visible anxiety. However, a lot of these negative feelings are irrational and based on misconceptions.
Hoping to dispel some of the inaccuracies surrounding this class of cold-blooded beasties, the Eastwood Branch Library recently hosted a program titled “What is a Reptile?” It was presented by Jason Preslar from Naturally Wild; a reptile rescue group. Jason, his wife Lindsay, and their young daughter were on hand to show the 120 plus people in attendance some very cool reptile exemplars including a red-eared slider turtle, a savannah monitor from Africa, a young American alligator, an alligator snapping turtle
(which can grow up to a hefty 200 lbs. and live 150 to 200 years), a terrestrial continental tortoise, and a Columbian red tailed boa constrictor. Participants were encouraged to touch most of the animals using the two-finger method, and while some did, a few found the idea to be a little too close and personal. Nonetheless, everyone found the program to be fun, educational and very enjoyable.
“A huge thank you to the 100+ people that joined us for hands-on learning at the Eastwood Branch Library in Kalamazoo! What a fun afternoon to end the month of July!” — Naturally Wild
The second animal program took place in early August. “Animal Adaptations” was presented by Dale Smart from the Cranbrook Institute of Science Organization for Bat Conservation in Bloomfield Hills, MI. He started out by explaining that just about everything about an animal is some form of adaptation, designed to increase the chances of that animal’s survival.
He then treated participants to some live animal examples. First was Mr. Ed, a 10 year old mega bat who sees in color, has a nose shaped oddly like that seen on horses with a bright yellow neck to boot! This particular bat is sensitive to noise, does not use echolocation , and is the largest bat to come from Africa. For contrast, Dale also brought along a big brown bat from Michigan, who does use sound waves to locate prey, hibernates 5 - 6 months out of the year and lives up to 40 years.
Next came Rocky, a very shy flying squirrel which can glide up to 200 ft. from tree to tree.
And finally, there was Autumn, the Great Horned Owl. She turned out to be a particular favorite of the audience; a gorgeous Michigan native species despite the fact that she was handicapped at an early age after contracting West Nile virus.
Since all these animals have an ability to fly (or glide as in Rocky’s case), it’s not surprising that time just flew by. The program came to an end and everyone departed enriched by what they had learned and satisfied by what they had seen.
Reptiles at Eastwood
Kalamazoo Public Library was pleased to present Joe Reilly in a very special picnic concert at the Oshtemo Township Park. Joe makes environmental education fun with original songs and raps that kids and adults can't help moving to. What a great show!
Joe performed lots of songs from his new CD Let's Go Outside! including one, "Dreams of Flying", inspired by the Caldecott Honor book Hawk You're My Brother by Byrd Baylor.
Catch Joe Reilly the next time he's in town. You'll be glad you did!
Let's Go Outside!
On July 6, the Kalamazoo Public Library was honored to host the World Premiere of author Bonnie Jo Campbell’s newest novel Once Upon A River. The novel that has been listed by NPR, CNN, Newsweek and The Daily Beast as being a “must read” and essential summer novel. These accolades should not lead you to believe it is a beach read because it has been earning critical praise from publications such as Entertainment Weekly, Detroit Free Press, and the Wall Street Journal. Recently the Washington Post critic Ron Charles wrote, “The wonder of Once Upon a River is how fresh and weathered it seems at the same time. Ardently turning these pages, I felt as though I’d been waiting for this book and yet somehow already knew it. After her critically acclaimed collection of short stories, American Salvage, Bonnie Jo Campbell has built her new novel like a modern-day craftsman from the old timbers of our national myths about loners living off the land, rugged tales as perilous as they are alluring. Without sacrificing any of its originality, this story comes bearing the saw marks of classic American literature, the rough-hewn sister of The Leatherstocking Tales, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Walden.”
After Bonnie acknowledged many of the people in the audience who contributed to the book in some way or another, the evening started with a reading of the first chapter which introduced the main protagonist of the novel, Margo. She is a character who possesses a tremendous amount of spirit and adventure that can only be found in the citizens of southwest Michigan. The reading was followed up with an informative and entertaining Q&A. Bonnie answered a variety of questions about the writing process as well as inspiration for the book. The over 160 in the crowd were treated to an education!
Most in the crowd agree that Once Upon A River deserves similar, if not more accolades than her previous book the National Book Award Finalist, American Salvage. If this novel is not on multiple “Best of 2011” lists I will be shocked! I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of Once Upon A River in the mail a few months ago. After reading the first 50 pages, I turned to my wife and stated that it was the best books I had read in years. I then proceeded to neglect my family and friends until I finished the book. Check out a copy or place one on hold, but be sure to prepare your family for your absence because you will be floating down the river lost in an amazing book.
Bonnie Jo Campbell @ KPL
The Alma Powell Branch had the awesome privilege of seeing a Krump performance by the Kzoo Street KonQuerors. On Tuesday June 14 Chestin Grays and Darion Powell with the help of their krumping crew demonstrated what krumping is. As Chestin “Gully KonQueror”, Darion “Gully Shinobi”, Tashyah “Miss Gully Madness” and Jason “Gully Tactic” were all doing their routines it made me think of an urban tap dance. The krimping, stomping and agile foot work had me comparing names and clothing and thinking that styles might have changed but the basics remain the same.
Krumping is a highly popular inner city activity and, as you can see in this video, it does take talent.
The KonQuerors allowed the audience to participate in a dance routine. The kids loved it! They got up and moved. This was a great Family Program and we’re hoping to have them back again!
Krumping @ Alma Powell
The Binder Park Zoomobile visited the Eastwood Branch Library on June 17th and delivered an animal program not once, but twice, back-to-back, which together attracted over 240 audience members. Alex, the Zoomobile Animal Specialist and educator, brought along five amazing animal friends, informing the audience of their special abilities and characteristics, as well as sharing a few fun folktales focusing on two of the creatures.
Highlighted was Adelaide the kookaburra, an exotic bird specimen from Australia. Considering that this was this feathered vocalist’s first presentation outside zoo confines, she did wonderfully well, and everyone was appropriately impressed by her plumage and exceptionally calm demeanor. No stage fright here!
Also featured was a red-kneed tarantula from Central America, which evoked many “Ooh’s” and “Aah’s,” as well as an occasional shriek, coming noticeably from a few of the younger attendees.
A Central African pancake tortoise named Flap Jack, as well as Scooter, a cute African pygmy hedgehog came next on the roster of Binder Park offerings.
And finally to wrap up the show, there was a special appearance by a striped boa constrictor which also hails from Central Africa. Program listeners were allowed to touch this one, and more than a few actually dared do so!
To sum up, this was a great program that was educational, entertaining and pleasing to both young and old.
P.S. Many more animal programs are scheduled at the Eastwood Branch Library this coming July and August for the entire family to enjoy. Please check them out on the online calendar. They’re fun, free and make the library the happening summer place it’s meant to be. See you there!
Alex from the Binder Park Zoo
Accolades from the music press are always nice, but when Corky Siegel calls someone his favorite harmonica player, people tend to pay attention. Once a student of Big Walter Horton, Peter Madcat Ruth has been blowin’ harp around these parts for more than four decades and has performed with some of the best.
In 1990, Madcat joined guitarist and singer Shari Kane, “the most dangerous fingerstyle blues guitarist north of the Yazoo,” to form Madcat & Kane. Since then, the Ann Arbor-based couple has toured extensively, playing at some of the most prestigious blues venues in the country. Then add two of Michigan’s most versatile musicians to the mix, Mark Schrock and Mike Shimmin, and you have Madcat, Kane & Maxwell Street, an acoustic quartet of considerable power and finesse.
To be able to witness talent like this in our own fair city is a treat in and of itself, but to see them at the library—free of charge nonetheless—made last Friday an Art Hop to remember. The fast-paced set opened with a Charley Patton standard from the 1930s, “Moon Goin’ Down,” and rolled on through more than ninety minutes of Delta blues standards, trains songs and “Mississippi party music” by the likes of Furry Lewis, Walter Davis, Blind Boy Fuller, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, and others. “We like to dig deep, deep down,” Ruth noted, “and find some of those old acoustic blues things that kinda’ got lost and no one’s doing them anymore… keep ‘em goin’.”
You can find lots of what they played at KPL on the quartet’s latest CD, Madcat, Kane & Maxwell Street Live at the Creole Gallery, and you can download a podcast of the Art Hop show in the KPL Concert Archives.
“This is a gorgeous library,” Shari adds. “I love Ann Arbor, but it was such a treat to come here… it’s such a jewel of a city that you have here.” Thanks, Shari, we think so, too—please come back and see us any time!
Madcat, Kane & Maxwell Street
Kalamazoo Public Library was very pleased to host illustrator Kim Shaw in an Anti Bullying Art Workshop. Kim presented her newest book, The Juice Box Bully, and then led a lively discussion on bullies and friendship. It was clear from the response of the school aged and adult audience that the topic is more timely than ever.
Kim then led an interactive drawing workshop wherein everyone had the opportunity to learn and practice some great drawing skills. Kids especially enjoyed this part - essentially a a small intro to drawing class for nearly fifty! Lots of nice drawings emerged from the Van Deusen room.
Kim created the art for The Juice Box Bully based on Kalamazoo's Woodward School for Technology and Research. Listen to Kim discuss how that real-life school influenced her illustrations.
Anti Bully Art Workshop
A warm spring breeze, a little much-needed sunshine, and some outstanding roots music all combined to make for an unforgettable Saturday afternoon at the Oshtemo Branch Library. Earth Day was Friday, April 22, but somehow KPL managed to stretch the celebration into a two day affair with a truly unique set of performances by a close-knit group of musicians from the Earthwork Music Collective.
While the younger members of the audience danced in the sunshine and adorned the parking lot with artistic sidewalk chalk creations, a crowd of more than 300 filled the tent and library garden area to enjoy an afternoon’s worth of music from some of the finest singers, songwriters and musicians Michigan has to offer. Yes, these folks are really that good.
Seth Bernard acted as MC for the afternoon and welcomed to the stage an amazing lineup of friends and family for a variety of captivating original tunes and timely “Earth-friendly” covers. Seth joined his longtime performing companion May Erlewine, the extended “Davis Family” (Rachael Davis with Joshua Davis and Dominic John Davis of Steppin’ In It and honorary Davis-for-a-day, Michael Shimmin “Davis”), Sam Corbin & Jen Sygit, Brandon and Bethany Foote (known collectively as Gifts or Creatures), Laurel Premo and Michael Beauchamp (known collectively as Red Tail Ring), and Josh Keller of Who Hit John? fame for some truly inspirational music in honor of the big blue ball. And there were several surprises along the way—from a glimpse of an upcoming Josh Davis solo project to an inspired sing-along of a timeless Woody Guthrie classic. KPL’s Kevin King kept the youngsters occupied with a reading of The Lorax by Dr. Seuss during intermission. You’ll find audio, video, photos and more from this event and others in KPL’s Concert Archives.
This was 46th show in KPL’s ongoing series of free live concerts, and (thankfully) there’s no end in sight. Upcoming shows include a May 18th appearance by An Dro, A special June 3rd Art Hop with Madcat, Kane & Maxwell Street, high octane blues from the BMF Band on June 15, and to celebrate our 50th show, a special July return performance by Steppin’ In It, the very group that started the live music series back in June 2008! And that’s just a start. Watch for more details coming soon!
The Western Dance Project, the touring ensemble from Western Michigan University's Department of Dance, came to the Central Library to perform in the Rotunda over Spring Break. The program began with a dance choreographed to a movement from composer John Adams's trancelike Shaker Loops. The program also included a piece called "Little Blue Worm", a crowd favorite, about kids playing on the playground. After many other entertaining and beautiful dances, the program closed with an amazing hip hop peice by WMU Department of Dance alum Chopper Platt featuring eight different tracks of music in sequence.
Western Dance Project director and dance professor David Curwen told us about how dance works and even taught us some moves in between the dances. We're glad Western Dance Project made a stop at the library and we look forward to having the Western Dance Project back again!
Western Dance Project
“You mean, baseball type bats?”
“No, no. The very real, very alive, flying around type of bats!”
“You mean like bats in some belfry?”
“Well, yes, sometimes they’re found in literature belfries. But in this case, it’s bats at the library - the Eastwood Branch of the Kalamazoo Public Library to be exact!”
Bats are the only mammals that can fly. They gorge themselves on thousands of night-time insects during six-hour feeding flight frenzies since lucky for them, (but not so much for the insects being consumed) both are nocturnal. To accomplish this feat they use echolocation; an ability to emit and detect high-pitched sound waves, to target their prey.
Dale Smart of the Organization for Bat Conservation at Cranbrook Institute of Science (otherwise known as the Michigan Batman) visited the Eastwood Branch Library on April 4th. He is a bat specialist and the main “go-to” guy who promotes the bat cause through the educational programs he delivers to groups around the state. And he did a fantastic job at Eastwood explaining bats, their lives and behavior, the need for their conservation, as well as dispelling some of the misleading, negative myths surrounding the species.
To illustrate his points, he brought along four of his best, very webby friends; a shy, dog-faced bat named Kisser from the Philippine Islands, Gandolph the fruit bat from Egypt who can discern colors, (and who by the way also looks exactly like Stellaluna, from that book by Janell Cannon), Luciana, a Michigan brown bat, and of course, little Bob, a diminutive Jamaican native who weighs a mere 1½ lbs.
Both young and old in the audience of 150 were captivated by Dale’s presentation of these spectacular animals, and all pledged to be Bat Buddies for life!
Thank you, Dale! And of course, thanks to your untethered-to-feathers, fine flying friends!
Dale Smart of the Organization for Bat Conservation at Cranbrook Institute of Science
Attention SCRABBLE® players! Here’s your chance to show off your SCRABBLE® prowess or play just for fun with other enthusiasts. Kalamazoo Literacy Council is hosting the 1st Annual SCRABBLE® Fest on Saturday, April 16, 12:00 - 4:00 p.m. at Portage Northern High School. All levels of players are welcome but you must be at least 16 years of age. Register for either “Competitive” or “Just for Fun” games and play all afternoon for a fee of $25.
Join us for word-making fun and great prizes! All event proceeds will support adult literacy education in Kalamazoo County. Contact Andrea Enyedi, Ready to Read Program Coordinator for more information.
With Spring Break just around the corner, you can look forward to lots of great events to enjoy at your library!
These events and more at Kalamazoo Public Library are listed on the KPL calendar!
In a recent Chinese New Year program in the Van Deusen Auditorium, families who visited Kalamazoo Public Library enjoyed a story and performance by the Lion Dance Troupe from the Chinese Association of Greater Kalamazoo. We learned about the Chinese zodiac and everyone had the opportunity to meet the dancers, see the costumes up close, and even play the percussion instruments. That was fun!
Events at Your Library
What a great time was had by all when Jim Gill came to the Van Deusen Auditorium! Jim performed audience favorites while children and families clapped, danced, and sang along. When he presented his new picture book, A Soup Opera, the whole audience had the chance to be opera singers complete with sound effects and a musical soundtrack.
Jim Gill leaves people feeling like they attended something more than a concert. With wordplay and movement opportunities, Jim leads families in playing together with music and movement. He has a unique ability to get everyone in the room participating in songs and musical movement games. Videos of more concerts at KPL are available in the Live Concert Archive.
Take a look at upcoming events for children and families at the KPL children's program calendar.
Jim Gill Family Room Concert
We had a great Nintendo Wii Game Night at Powell! The release of The Experience, the new Michael Jackson video game, brought out lots of talent and some strong competition. On December 14 the tweens and teens from the Boys and Girls Club joined us and others for a fun-filled Smash Brothers and Wii dance night. The competition was fierce but there was one young man who out-Billy Jeaned them all. Powell has game nights from 6 pm - 7:30 pm on the second Tuesday of every month. Our next Game Night is scheduled for January 11, 2011.
Game Night at Powell
This past week author Cynthia Leitich Smith visited Kalamazoo for a few days. While here she visited with students at Woods Lake and Northglade elementary schools and with a group of teens at the Kalamazoo County Juvenile Home. On Friday, she was the keynote speaker for KPL’s annual Mary Calletto Rife Youth Literature Seminar. The theme was “Crossing Borders” and all of the speakers addressed the idea that books for kids and teens help them understand, appreciate, and relate to others in their diverse communities, despite a wide variety of differences and borders.
Other speakers at the seminar were Beth Amidon and Maria Perez-Stable from Western Michigan University, Gillian Engberg, from the American Library Association’s “Booklist” journal, and Debbie Reese from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. The seminar was wonderful . . . with much thoughtful discussion about books and kids and reading!
After the visit to Kalamazoo, both Cynthia and Debbie posted blogs on their websites: www.cynthialeitichsmith.com and www.americanindiansinchildrensliterature.net/.
We had a great time last week with this group of very talented writers and scholars. If you’d like to be added to the mailing list for information about next November’s seminar, contact Mary Knowles. See more photos of the 2010 Youth Literature Seminar on KPL’s Flickr photostream.
Kalamazoo Public Library has hosted some great dance programs in the last month! In October, Dunuya Drum and Dance performed Music and Dance of West Africa and the Diaspora. When they say they encourage audience interaction through singing, dancing, or playing instruments, they mean it! Everyone had the opportunity to dance and to play authentic instruments. What a great program!
In November, members of the Ballet Arts Ensemble performed some of their own pieces after Youth Services librarian Karen read the classic Grimm’s fairy tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses. The show was a preview of the Ballet Arts Ensemble’s 12 Dancing Princesses performances at Chenery Audtorium on November 20th and 21st with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra performing original music.
Kalamazoo Public Library’s calendar of children’s events has more programs. Mark your calendar for upcoming events now!
Dance! At Your Library!
On November 18, KPL’s Ready to Read program will host its 10th annual Great Grown-Up Spelling Bee. I was lucky enough to be on KPL’s first cheer team 10 years ago, and I’m excited to be cheering again this year. What can I say? It’s an absolute blast, and it supports a great cause. Ready to Read uses 100% of the Bee’s proceeds to purchase books for at-risk children in Kalamazoo County.
If you’ve never participated as a team member or a spectator, it’s not too late to organize a team, sponsor a group or purchase a ticket. Don’t miss it!
2008 KPL Spelling Bee Team
What a great Día de los Niños/Día de los Libros here at the library! Acclaimed bilingual author Pat Mora, who has written books for children, teens and adults, founded Día to nurture bookjoy—delight in the magic of words and a passion for reading. On Saturday, April 24th, Fantasía Ballet Folklórico performed several traditional dances and students from El Sol School performed songs and a readers’ theatre piece. All children who attended received a special prize and a book to keep. Next time you come to the Central Library, take a look at the posters created by El Sol students for Día. You can see them on display as you pass into the Children’s Room.
Día de los Niños
Brian Brook and his wife Judy brought two llamas to the Eastwood Branch Library for a program last Friday afternoon. Paco and Paint-Your-Wagon, the magnificent beasties in question, were on their very best behavior, basking in both the warm sunshine as well as the admiration of an appreciative audience.
Llamas are members of the camel family and are domesticated pack animals native to South America. They have two-toed feet, and walk on leathery pads which give them superb traction in mountainous terrain. As you may have heard, llamas can spit. But normally this is intended for other llamas who provoke anger or a disturbance. Of course, the llamas visiting Eastwood were relatively at ease and quite calm, so “No Spitting” was the rule of the day.
Paco and Paint-Your-Wagon live with Brian and Judy along with about 25 other llamas on a farm in Three Rivers. Judy regularly combs their substantial coats. She uses the harvested fibers to make rugs, purses, and sweaters, selling these at craft shows throughout Southwest and Mid-Michigan.
Looking for something fun to do during Spring Break? There are a variety of programs at library branches.
It’s all at your library. Have a wonderful Spring Break!
Spring Break Programs at KPL!
On February 24th, kids from the Boys and Girls Club, and other families, joined us at the Alma Powell Branch for a Jumping the Broom ceremony.
Jumping the Broom was a marriage practice used by couples during slavery. Many times the slaves’ owners would not give permission for couples to wed. Jumping the Broom became a practice that allowed couples to unite without their owners’ knowledge. Today, this tradition has become popular as a cultural heritage ceremony.
During our event the kids took turns reading from the book Jumping the Broom written by Courtni Wright. This story is about a young slave girl, Lettie, whose sister, Tillie, is planning a Jumping the Broom ceremony. Courtni Wright tells how slave families worked together to prepare for the ceremony. The women spent their days working on a quilt to keep the young couple warm. They prepared food for the ceremony. The men built furniture and caught fish to salt for the winter. Everyone pitched in.
At our event Erika and Hari dressed the part of a couple in a pretend ceremony; we decorated miniature brooms, ate homemade wedding cake and drank homemade Jamaican-style ginger soda. We talked about other ceremonies and the quilt making custom.
Thanks to the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo we had a fantastic quilt display exhibited in the Barnabee Gallery! These quilts were done by a group of African American women of Southwest Michigan. It brought the Barnabee Gallery alive with African American heritage and history.
Harriette Cole’s book Jumping the broom: The African-American Wedding Planner is not only historical but is a modern-day guide for couples wanting to tie the knot. Ms. Cole offers anecdotes, traditions and choices for blending today’s culture with elements of the past.
Jumping the Broom
Last Wednesday local band Belfast Gin played to a full house of rabid Irish music loving fans. Their unique brand of the Celtic music is heavily influenced by rock, soul and blues.
Lead singer Laurie Laing’s expertly slipped between the raucous beat of a bar ballad to the slow jam sound of an R&B tune. The band was very personable and made the audience feel like we were all sharing a pint together somewhere in Ireland. Belfast Gin was the perfect antidote to a cold January day because they chased away the winter blues with a ton of green!
Live Music: Belfast Gin