Library-driven Art

Generally, when you think of a library, you think of books, of hushed silence, of studying, of stillness. If you’re a frequent patron, maybe you think of discovery, or of reliability, or of millions of worlds waiting to be explored and immersed in. However, no matter your affiliation to libraries, your mind probably doesn’t leap to the idea art created using library materials.

And yet, this art exists in spades.

In March of 2011, the Scottish Poetry Library was left quite an unusual gift.

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This intricate tree sculpture appeared in the library with an accompanying egg containing scraps of paper which when laid out together made “A Trace of Wings” by Edwin Morgan.

After this mysterious gift arrived, more sculptures began appearing at other local libraries and museums.

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The sculptures that followed all contained notes with variations of the beginning line, “This is for you in support of libraries, books, words, ideas…”

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A fantastic mystery unfolded as the sculptures appeared, each with unique and imaginative themes and handwritten notes.

All in support of libraries! Read more about it, here.

Another stunning example of library-related art comes from Italian artist, Frederico Pietrella, who creates gorgeous pieces using only library stamps. Fascinated with the idea of time, Pietrella changes the date of the stamp to match the current date when working. Each image is painstakingly produced and may take up to two months to finish. Marvel at his library stamp creations below:

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Read more about Pietrella, see more photos of his art, and watch a short video of him discussing his work here.

These are just two examples of library-related art. With the vast worlds made available through libraries, it’s no wonder artists have found inspiration in them.

I’ll continue posting library art as it comes to my attention. Take a moment and think about what libraries give to you and what they make you want to create.

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Welcome Back, ACE Students!

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It’s the third day of the Fall semester here at ACE Academy, and there’s been some changes made in the upstairs libraries (301 and 302).

When you enter 301, you’ll notice that I, the librarian (Ms. Whitmer), now have a desk situated in the very front of the room. Don’t be afraid to say hello! I’m here to help you check out books, find books you’ll be interested in, and generally help you navigate the space. You’ll notice there’s a new book truck in the front of the room labeled “Return Books Here.” Feel free to come in, grab a book for quiet reading, and then return it on the truck when you’re done.

I’ve also organized and labeled the shelves to reflect new categories such as books suitable for Upper School students, Anthologies, Poetry, and Drama. All other fiction shelves have letters of the alphabet labeling them, arranged by author last name. In the Nonfiction Library and Computer Lab in 302, the shelves are organized and labeled by subject or theme. 

Please come explore, leaf through books, and ask questions in 301 about either collection! I’ll be making the rounds upstairs to tell students more about how to use the library as well as the blog, online catalog, and research links. Library cards are currently being printed and assigned bar codes, so students will soon be able to check out books with their very own ACE Library cards!

Here are just a few new titles we’ve got in 301 that are ready to be checked out and read:

The Name of This Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch

If you’re a fan of adventure, detective work, magicians, puzzles, and anagrams – or a combination of any of the above – this book has something for you. 

The Sight (Warriors: Power of Three, Book 1) by Erin Hunter

Fans of previous Warriors series will delight in reading about the three kits of ThunderClaw and their journey to unfold a daunting prophecy.

Ship Breaker by Paulo Bacigalupi

National Book Award finalist and winner of the 2011 Printz Award, this book features a dark, dystopian landscape littered with grounded oil tankers, richly developed characters, and an ever-present struggle to survive.

Come check out these titles or ask about others in 301 today!

And don’t forget to peek in at the amazing progress of the second floor’s Primary Library – it’s sure to be a floor favorite quite soon.

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Dystopian Recommendations: The End of Summer Needn’t be the End of the World

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Concept Art by Syd Mead (above)

There is nothing quite so thrilling as the notion of the end of the world. In some books, the settings teeter on the end of days, while in others they exist in post-apocalyptic ruin. In dystopian novels, the characters live in repressed and controlled societies, often in police states. This genre, though always compelling, has recently surged in popularity amongst the YA demographic.

If you flew through The Hunger Games and your pulse quickens at the thought of more dystopia, I’ve compiled a list of titles just for you.

The Age of Miracles by Courtney Summers

In this story, the earth’s rotation is slowing to an inevitable halt. Gravity is affected, the environment is thrown into flux, and the lives of those watching the impending end of the world spiral into disarray as quickly as the world is slowing. Eleven-year old Julia, the main character in the story, is teetering on the verge of enough changes in her life without the catastrophic shifts that surround her. It’s her story that assumes the forefront of this tale of inevitable devastation.

Pure by Julianne Boggot

After the Detonation, the world is separated into those who remain in the resulting wasteland and those who inhabit the protective, insular Dome. Those present for the explosions are left with any mutation you can imagine, including the protagonist’s warped hand, which is fused permanently with the head of a doll. When a boy who grew up in the Dome takes the risk of leaving its safety to find his missing mother,  he soon finds himself in the company of the mutated – and their worlds collide.

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Set on the American Gulf Coast in a time when fossil fuels have been used up and coastal cities destroyed by flooding, the characters in this story strip old oil tankers on the beach to make a living. Fully-realized characters populate the wreckage of this story, leading readers through harrowing action as Nailer, the protagonist, and his crew, struggle to make difficult choices in order to survive.

The Enemy by Charlie Higson

Everyone over 16 is either dead or decomposing after a devastating disease hits London. Those young enough to not be infected scavenge for food and shelter. A stranger shows up to the characters’ hideout and informs them that Buckingham Palace is a safe haven, thus setting them off on a journey rife with danger across the city. Anyone who loves a thrilling quest story filled with the terrors of the undead will be enamored with this book, the first of a series.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Oasis, a virtual utopia where those plugged in are free to be whoever they want to be, takes the center stage of this story. Boasting planets entirely inspired by Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, this book is made for those who love technologically-based dystopian societies and adventure.

Insignia by S.J. Kincaid

Tom is a teenage con artist, struggling to keep himself and his father alive. That is, until his virtual presence is noticed, and he’s offered a spot in an elite, military academy. There he begins battling in the current World War III with the aid of a neural implant. With hints of Ender’s Game and even a bit of reader’s beloved Hogwarts, this book will appeal to those interested in technologically-based dystopia and boarding school settings.

Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick

In the flash of an electromagnetic pulse, all electronic devices are destroyed, all computerized systems shut down, and billions are killed. A group of teens have to navigate this new, terrifying world, which, as a bonus, features zombies. Anyone who enjoys a good zombie survival tale will be interested in this book.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Todd is the only boy left in Prentisstown – all women are gone and everyone else has reached the age of manhood. The noise germ has infected everyone, and there’s no such thing as thinking to yourself anymore. Instead, all thoughts are broadcast audibly, meaning silence is a thing of the past, and there are no secrets to be kept – or are there? This book is a highly unique take on the dystopian landscape, and is filled with adventure, heartbreak, and realistic dialects. Once you’re hooked, check out the rest of the series.

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Fans of The Hunger Games will tear into this series. In protagonist Beatrice’s Chicago, society is divided into factions, representing different virtues to aspire to embody: Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On your sixteenth birthday, you select the faction that will determine your role for the rest of your life. Beatrice’s choice marks the beginning of quite the dystopian adventure…

The Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

In this society, teens are ultimately transformed via surgery into “pretties,” when they turn 16. Before undergoing this transformation, which serves to completely level the social playing field and ultimately exert control and conformity, teens engage in mischievous pranks. Tally befriends Shay, another “ugly” whose yet to be transformed and who disagrees with the imposed surgery. Shay tries to convince Tally to deflect to a colony of like-minded individuals called the Smoke. Tally’s difficult decision results in the start of an adventure. Eery and not unlike an episode of The Twilight Zone, The Uglies spearheads a thrilling series that fans of dystopians and drama will eat up.

Other dystopian classics include Joan Lowery Nixon’s The GiverRay Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, George Orwell’s 1984and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World – all of which can be found in the ACE Library.

A good read about what’s behind the trend in YA dystopian fiction can be found here, and includes short responses to the topic by two of the authors listed above (Scott Westerfeld and Paolo Bagicalupi).

I hope this list has brought some new dystopian novels to your attention, and that you’ll check them out and tell me what you think! If you have any other recommendations on the genre, please let me know or leave a comment on this post.

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Game Changer, World Builder, Literary Giant: Ray Bradbury Passes Away at 91

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(Photo: AP Photo)

Ray Bradbury, a hero of science fiction literature, passed away on June 5th, 2012.

Author of books including The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, Dandelion Wine, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and the ever timely Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury created lush worlds that feel eerily familiar and not so far away when imbued with his deft touch. Fellow science fiction author, Neil Gaiman, wrote in a blog entry remembering Bradbury and noted that he “was not ahead of his time. He was perfectly of his time, and more than that: he created his time and left his mark on the time that followed.” Though at times criticized by hard science fiction authors for his lack of concern for scientific fact in his stories, Bradbury was able to transport the reader unlike any genre author before him, immersing them in the sands of Mars, the yellow filtered light of the country in the fall before a carnival creeps into town, and the quiet, dystopian mania of a world filled with buzzing ear inserts and wall sized televisions (which resonate all too easily with our current technology today). 

Bradbury did not attend college and instead heavily educated himself in troves of books he found in libraries. He continued to support and advocate for public libraries throughout his life, and would take the time to tell any aspiring young writer about the importance of reading and writing with unfailing dedication every day. 

Contemporary writers often cite Bradbury as a heavy influence, whether they read his work as a child or discovered it later in life. Junot Díaz, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, wrote about how Bradbury helped shape him as a writer in a moving piece for The New Yorker. In the article, he describes discovering the short story All Summer in a Day for the first time while hidden amongst the stacks of the library:

“In the back of the Madison Park library I read that story and cried my little eyes out. I had never been moved like that by any piece of art. I had never known what I’d been experiencing as an immigrant, never had language for it until I read that story. In a few short pages, Bradbury gave me back to myself.”

Read All Summer in a Day here and see where it takes you.

As Neil Gaiman noted in his writing about Bradbury, it was more than the vast landscapes Bradbury seemed to effortlessly weave into the literary canon, it was who the man was as a person. A friend, a teacher, and a true person of passion for his craft, he was able to hold a mirror up to the darkest parts of our society while still offering odd little glimmers of hope. 

Many sources have reiterated the Bradbury quote I will end this post on, because it highlights that the creator of such fantastical settings was also very human.

 

“Looking back over a lifetime, you see that love was the answer to everything.” – Ray Bradbury

 

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Spring’s Best Pop-up & Interactive Books

The New York Times Book Review rounded up their picks for the best pop-up and interactive children’s books of the season. 

The books feature all varieties of animals and insects as well as cars, Japanese dolls, London, and even Woody Guthrie Lyrics.

Check them out!

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Sculptural Installations with a Literary Twist

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In Spain, floods of books pour out of the windows of buildings. Artist Alicia Martin created these sculptural installations (under the project moniker Biografias) at three site specific locations in Madrid. 

Each book’s pages, unbound by glue, are free to flutter in the breeze, allowing the sculptures to appear to almost breathe in an asynchronous yet seemingly natural manner.

Check out an image gallery as well as a video of the installations here.

 

Things to think about: if it were any other object piled and connected together in sculptural form, would we assign the same sense of significance to the installations? Does the fact that they are books make you feel either a sense of connection, or a sense of confusion in that something you assign specific meaning to has been effectively destroyed? What does the art make you feel, as a reader, and as a viewer of art? What do you think the intention of work is?

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Summer Reading

Still looking for some summer reading recommendations? I’ve compiled a list of books for different age groups below. These titles were culled from other published lists or come recommended straight from me. Don’t be afraid to check out titles out of your reading level – there are No Limits to your literary aspirations, after all! 

Elementary

The Magician’s Elephant by Kat DiCamillo

The Search for Wondla by Tony DiTerlizzi

A Hero for Wondla by Tony DiTerlizzi

Secret of the Sirens by Julia Golding

The Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate byJacqueline Kelly

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens

Museum of Thieves by Lian Tanner

Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream by Margaret A. Weitekamp

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose

Middle Grade

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Ship Breaker by Paulo Bacigalupi

Abarat by Clive Barker

The Hound of Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkein

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Leguin

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

The Prince of Mist by Carols Ruiz Zafón

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Siefvater

Upper School

In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

 

Hopefully, these will get you started in the right direction for your summer time leisure reading.

And if you finish any books and no longer want them, don’t forget, you can always donate them to the ACE library!

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