Staff Picks: Books

Staff-recommended reading from the KPL catalog.

Seven Keys for Seven Brothers for Seven Locks

Author Paul Haven’s second novel for young readers is titled The Seven Keys of Balabad.  Balabad is a middle-eastern, war-torn nation that is said to have been the birthplace of an international secret society known as the Brotherhood of Arachosia.  Balabad is also the rumored hiding place of the grandest riches in the world; grander ones have never been known, heard of, or seen.

Enter Oliver Finch, a New York City kid whose dad is a journalist for a newspaper; whose mom is an art historian/curator; and whose friends are all back in the Big Apple, while Oliver is stuck in this unfamiliar, odd-customed place with no TV, video games, or pizza.

Oliver does make a couple of friends, and they get involved in an international intrigue that involves the seven keys of Balabad, which originally belonged to the good King Agamon, and each of which was given to one of Agamon’s sons.  The sons were long-ago scattered to all corners of the world, where their descendents remain to this day.  The theft of a 500-year-old carpet, the Secret Carpet of Agamon, begins a recall of each of these seven keys.  Agamon’s relatives are not the generous sort, it seems, and they all want whatever the keys unlock for themselves.

A native carpet-seller, Mr. Hagi, and a couple of other people are kidnapped; Oliver and his friends get involved; and the fun begins!

The Seven Keys of Balabad is a quick read with lots of excitement on each page.  Enjoy!


The Seven Keys of Balabad

The World Is a Very Big Place

Kalamazoo Public Library has many resources with which to find geographic information. Some of my favorites are the online ones, such as the U.S. Board on Geographic Names site provided by the U.S. Geological Survey. Others are good for finding maps, such as MapBlast and MapQuest. There are also many atlases and maps available in print form at the library. One volume I have turned to frequently since learning about it in library school is Merriam-Webster’s Geographic Dictionary, which contains a mass of data on land and water features as well as political entities. When looking for a quick, brief description of a geographic term or place, this dictionary is a good place to start, even at its age of 12 years. I received the second edition of this as a gift in 1973 and still become addicted to it when I pick it up. One entry that recently caught my eye was the one for Lake Char-gog-ga-gogg-man-chaug-gaug-ga-gogg-chau-bu-na-gun-ga-maugg. This is the official name of what is sometimes, and probably more usually called Lake Webster, near Webster in southern Worcester County, Massachusetts.


Merriam-Webster's Geographical Dictionary
David D.

Who can they tell?

Learning to Swim: a memoir pulled at my heart strings! All of us would prefer not to have to talk about child abuse. But it is something that is eating away at our society and we can not ignore it.

The reality is that child abuse is a prevailing monster that grows with silence. Ann Turner does an excellent job of conveying a child’s anxiety of wanting to tell and the fear of telling.

This memoir might help a child speak the unspoken words.

Find more info at the Child Molestation Research & Prevention Institute and Childhelp.


Learning to Swim: a memoir

This Week in Science History July 29

July 28, 1907 American manufacturer and inventor of Tupperware, Earl S. Tupper was born. Tupper struck out on his own in 1938 after working for a DuPont owned plastics plant in Massachusetts. He purchased some used molding machines and tried making products with DuPont’s polyethylene but found it was too rigid for his ideas. Using samples without the company’s fillers (because they made the plastic too rigid) and the concept of how a paint can lid works, Tupper created a plastic bowl that “burped” out some of the air in it to provide an airtight and watertight seal. He patented his seal in 1949. He tried selling his products in department stores which didn’t go very well when, Brownie Wise, who had been selling Stanley Home Products at house parties teamed up with him to sell his Tupperware at house parties. It was a very successful venture for both Tupper and Wise. Tupper sold the business in 1958 for $16 million.

July 28, 1858 fingerprints are used as a means of identification for the first time. William James Herschel, a magistrate in Nuddea, India requested that a local businessman make a handprint on the back of a contract. Herschel’s idea with the print was to frighten the businessman from repudiating his signature. He noted after collecting a number of these that the impressions varied and that individual identification could be made with them.

July 30, 1863 American inventor and automobile manufacturer, Henry Ford, was born in Dearborn, Michigan. Ford incorporated the Ford Motor Company in 1903, and by 1908 was manufacturing the reliable economical Model T. He revolutionized the automobile industry with his use of precision manufactured parts designed to be standardized and interchangeable and his use of the continuously moving assembly line. Half of all cars being driven in America by 1918 were Model T’s.


The People's Tycoon: Henry Ford and the American Century






The Codes Behind the Craft

We know that analysis of many great works of art has revealed they employ what’s known as the “golden mean,” a geometric ratio said to produce aesthetically pleasing results. Well, what ratios lead to delicious results?

Michael Ruhlman new book Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking uncovers the relationships that define basic recipes.

The book doesn’t provide do-this-or-else directions, nor does it offer The Ultimate version of anything. Instead, Ratio shows the basic governing relationships of a recipe so that you can see how to go from cake to muffins to crepes, and then wing it.

Each section in Ratio covers a different food group and includes recipes as well as opportunities for variation. Doughs and batters are first. The ratio for pie dough is 3 parts flour :  2 parts fat : 1 part water. The book’s basic pie dough recipe is known as pate brisee, the all-purpose classic. Repeatedly folding and rolling this dough will increase its number of layers and make it perform like puff pastry. Adding sugar and it’s a pate sucree to be used in some sweet pies and tarts.

Other sections are devoted to stocks; meat-related ratios such as sausages, mousseline and brine; fat-based sauces (mayonnaise, vinaigrette, hollandaise); and custards. There’s a recipe for standard mayonnaise as well as an “instant” version using an immersion blender instead of a whisk.

Ruhlman says that “Ratios liberate you — when you know the ratio and some basic techniques, then you can really start to cook.” Though his book contains recipes, he likes to think of it as “an anti-recipe book, a book that teaches you and frees you from the need to follow.”



The Terminator and Philosophy

Many of us loved the Terminator series that was recently finished with Terminator: Salvation (with the possibly exception of Terminator 3). We knew these films had some hints of philosophical themes, especially time travel and artificial intelligence; but what Terminator and Philosophy shows us is that it has many more deep issues than we were aware, ranging from morality, marxism, and fate, to Descartes, CamusHobbes and Hegel.

What is a person? What makes a person different from other living things?... from machines? Could the machines in Terminator be considered people? From the T101's perspective (Arnauld), he seems just as human as Sara and John Conner. After all, he can do almost anything they can. This resembles a theory of personhood brought forth by Alan Turing, who thought that if a machine could "trick" you into thinking it was a person, then the machine is a person. From Sara's perspective, machines are nothing but soulless fakers that carry out pre-determined commands. This resembles Rene Descartes' idea that a person is defined by having a soul, or "inner principle" of thought, which has private conscious experiences. And John Conner seems to hold a middle position of understanding, shown by his constant attempts at teaching the T101 how to be a person.

Is it right to commit a wrong for the greater good?...or are there some things you simply cannot do? Here we explore the moral theories of Benthem and Mill's utilitarianism and Kant's deontology. Sara, especially in her plot to kill Dyson and Skynet, agrees with utilitarianism that sometimes the "end justifies the means." But John, like a good Kantian, sees that murder is never justified--"you just can't go around killing people!".

Among other themes are the Marxist idea that technology, when only backed by greed and profit, will lead to the conclusion of capitalism and the destruction of our race; and the conflict over fate and free will, and whether the future can actually be changed; and Hegel's idea that history is determined by the unfolding of the "Gist," or mind.


Terminator and Philosophy

Frankie Landau-Banks

Inspired by P.G. Wodehouse's love of wordplay and her Cities, Art, and Protest class (where she learned the importance of the concept of a panopticon), Frankie shakes the foundation on which her boarding school, Alabaster, is set.

Frankie Landau-Banks is the 15-year old main character in a very fun teen novel entitled The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks.  Her family calls her Bunny Rabbit which is one of the reasons for her insistence that she can make her own decisions and that she is NOT to be underestimated!  The other is her boyfriend, Matthew Livingston and his friends:  The Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds. 

Frankie's desire to be one of the "boys"--not in a tomboy sort of way, but in a girls-are-equal-to-boys-and-clubs-should-have-no-exclusionary-rules way--is what gets her mind reeling and her adrenaline flowing.  She's definitely not a glass ceiling type of girl!  But, despite her creativity and determination in breaking the good ol' boy barrier, her teenage emotions for her boyfriend surface.  What results is a wild ride with Frankie and her schemes! 

I'm not sure whether I ended up really, really liking Frankie or being irritated by her.  Admire, maybe?  Envy?  I'm not sure.  Of course, I'm judging her with the eyes of an adult rather than a teenager.  Having read this book 25 years ago would definitely have changed my perspective of her fiesty personality.  But, maybe its a good thing I read it now;  I can't imagine the trouble I might have found for myself with Frankie as a role model!


The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks



An interactive cookbook on CD

One of the newest cookbooks in our collection won’t be found in the second floor stacks, but in our audiovisual department on the lower level. Kalamazoo area chef and food historian Channon Mondoux has written Celebration at the Sarayi: Reliving a Feast in the Palace of Suleyman the Magnificent. This electronic cookbook brings to life the beautiful and sumptuous cuisine of 16th century Ottoman Turkey.

Mondoux’s years of research — including an ongoing study of the Turkish language — has resulted in 72 recipes for appetizers, main courses and desserts, including qatlami boregi, a tasty feta-walnut pastry that was popular with guests at the program and book signing on May 21. Video clips enhance some of the recipes. For instance, you can see how to stuff grape leaves with lamb and plums for etli yaprak dolmasi. Audio narration, notes and historic images further enhance the book, making this more of an experience, than merely a collection of recipes.

About the format: This is not an audiobook, nor is it something to load on a Kindle or Sony Reader. The entire book is in Adobe PDF on a CD. All you need is a computer with Adobe Acrobat Reader version 9.0., which is a free download. This will work on Macintosh or Windows platforms.

Here’s a video from Mondoux’s program at KPL on May 21:  


Celebration at the Sarayi: reliving a feast in the palace of Süleyman the Magnificent

Red and Me: My Coach, My Friend

 If you’re a basketball fan, you’ll enjoy this inspiring book about the personal relationship and friendship between Bill Russell and his coach Red Auerbach.  Through their thirteen years of building a sports dynasty together, they won eleven championships in thirteen years.  Russell writes how Auerbach produced results and developed great ball players where each man gave his all, and gained back even more.

Bill Bradley said this about Russell, “Bill Russell knew his personal power and how to use it.  In that sense he was his father’s son, inspired by independence, self-confidence and strength he had observed growing up.  Russell would say that his father always had “a plan,” meaning he was always a step or two ahead of everyone else.  In basketball; Russell demonstrated the same gift and thus reconceptualized the game.  Defense had once been an afterthought; Russell saw it as the key to offense and builder of team morale.”   Russell’s account of his friendship with Auerbach is a lesson in mutual respect and understanding that grew and matured over the years.  I’ve always felt that Bill Russell is a man of great integrity, and after reading this book, my belief is reinforced.


Red and Me: My Coach, My Friend 

Valerie O

Today in Science History July 21

 July 19, 1865 surgeon and philanthropist, Charles Horace Mayo, was born. Mayo was one of the founders of the Mayo Clinic which is regarded as one of the foremost medical treatment and research institutions in America. Mayo specialized in surgery of the thyroid and nervous system. The concept of medical specialization was, in fact, developed by this group of medical pioneers. The private practice of this group became the not-for-profit Mayo clinic in 1919. The Mayo Clinic of today is a not-for-profit medical practice dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of virtually every type of complex illness.
July 20, 1969 Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin became the first men to walk on the moon. While Michael Collins orbited above, Armstrong and Aldrin established “Tranquility Base” on the moon. Armstrong’s famous proclamation “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind” took place at 10:56 ET as he stepped on to the lunar surface. I remember watching this historic event when it took place. Even though it took place late in the evening for my younger brothers and me, our parents let us stay up to watch it because it was such a significant history-in-the-making event for the United States!
July 24, 1897 American aviator Amelia Earhart was born. During World War I, she served in a nursing corps in Canada. Earhart learned to fly in 1921 in an open-cockpit plane in California and became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic alone establishing a new record in the crossing of 13 hours and 30 minutes. She also became the first woman to fly the Pacific Ocean, crossing from Hawaii to California in 1935 and set a speed record flying nonstop from Mexico City to New York City that same year. Sadly, Earhart and her navigator mysteriously disappeared on a June 1937 flight around the world en route from Lae, New Guinea to little Howland Island. The fate of Earhart remains a mystery to this day and makes for exciting reading.


Rocket Men: The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon


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