Happy Birthday, Charlotte’s Web!!

I was listening to NPR recently and heard that a favorite childhood classic, Charlotte’s Web, is celebrating its 60th birthday this month. In “The New York Times” from October 19th, 1952, Charlotte’s Web was reviewed by Eudora Welty, who said, “The book has liveliness and felicity, tenderness and unexpectedness, grace and humor and praise of life, and the good backbone of succinctness that only the most highly imaginative stories seem to grow.” She continued to describe some of the main characters in the book and closed the book review by saying, “What the book is about is friendship on earth, affection and protection, adventure and miracle, life and death, trust and treachery, pleasure and pain, and the passing of time. As a piece of work it is just about perfect, and just about magical in the way it is done.”

I have warm, fuzzy feelings about this book. My second grade teacher read it to our class. I loved the magic of the fair, riding the ferris wheel and round, fat Templeton crawling home after a night of good eating. I liked the idea of rooting for the underdog Wilbur, the runt that no one wanted except Fern. And of course, Charlotte, with her descriptive words for Wilbur’s personality. I remember having to do a word description project for myself and a friend in my second grade classroom. “Some Pig” and “Crunchy” would not work for a person. I was an avid library visitor, but this was a book I NEEDED to own.  On Christmas, I remember unwrapping a copy of this book from my grandparents and in my Gram’s neat cursive on the inside cover it says, “Merry Christmas! Love, Gram and Pop (1988)”. My grandparents have since passed away, but this book is in a special place on my bookshelf in my living room.

According to “Publishers Weekly”, Charlotte’s Web is the best-selling paperback for children of all time. As this book celebrates its 60th birthday, I think it is time for me–and maybe you, too–to re-read this classic book.


WHITE, E.B.                                       Original Date: 1952

A little girl who can talk with animals is devoted to Wilbur, the foolishly smug pig, and Charlotte, the beautiful gray spider who works to save Wilbur’s life. A sensitive story for children of all ages as well as adults.  Newbery Honor book 1953.

Charlotte’s Web is available in Braille, audio cassette, digital download (BARD), digital cartridge and large print.

BR 01318, BR 09405, BR 17770, BT 03247

DX 46839, DB 46839

RC 07107, RC 46839

LB 05976

For a link to the story on NPR “Some Pig! Charlotte’s Web Turns 60” go to: http://www.npr.org/2012/10/15/162735079/some-book-charlottes-web-turns-60?sc=fb&cc=nprbooks&device=iphone#commentBlock

Cited, NY Times article “Along Came a Spider” (book review of Charlotte’s Web): http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/11/22/specials/welty-charlotte.html

Cited, My Library of Congress, Exhibition, “Books that Shaped America, 1950 – 2000: http://myloc.gov/Exhibitions/books-that-shaped-america/1950-2000/ExhibitObjects/Charlottes-Web.aspx

Houston VisionWalk — Saturday, October 20th

On Saturday, October 20th from 8:30 am – 12 pm, TBP Reader’s Advisory Librarian Shannon will attend the Houston VisionWalk at Discovery Green Park. The Houston VisionWalk supports the Foundation Fighting Blindness, whose mission is to “drive the research that will provide preventions, treatments and cures for people affected by retinitis pigmentosa (RP), macular degeneration, Usher syndrome, and the entire spectrum of retinal degenerative diseases.”

Registration for the Houston VisionWalk is at 9:00 am and the walk starts at 10:00. There will be music, refreshments, and kids’ activities after the walk.

Shannon will staff a booth at the walk to tell people about the Talking Book Program, demonstrate the DTBM, and talk about BARD. Please stop by to say “hello”. Shannon would love to meet some of our library users!

For more information about the Houston VisionWalk or to sign up to walk, please go to their website at: http://www.fightblindness.org/site/PageNavigator/VisionWalk_Homepage

Staff pick — Shannon

In The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt, Doug Swieteck is a jerk and a bully, and a seventh grader I don’t like very much. In Okay for Now, Doug Swieteck is a boy who has a rough life at home, but loves his mom (and her pretty smile), a delivery boy who helps others, a baseball fan (especially of Joe Pepitone), a reader, and a boy I wish I knew.

Doug meets a lot of people who help him grow into the boy I wish I knew, like his physical science teacher Mr. Ferris, who says, “The basic principle of physical science is this: two bodies cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Do you understand that? … It means, Doug Swieteck, that in this class, you are not your brother.” The owner of the paper mill where his dad works teaches him how to play horseshoes, an eccentric playwright asks him to be in her play because he can “shriek like an insane woman who has been locked in an attic for a great many years,” and a librarian teaches him about art and James Audubon. As Doug meets these people he becomes a boy who has faith in himself and confidence in his abilities, and even Mr. Peattie the principal says, “You know, Mr. Swieteck, I haven’t told this to many students, but I’ll tell it to you. I think that you’re going to go wherever you want to go.”

Okay for Now is a middle grade to younger young adult novel. It is set during Doug’s 8th grade year in 1968.  I feel this book has quite a bit of appeal for any reader who is looking for a good coming of age story about a boy you want to root for.  Okay for Now is a companion book to The Wednesday Wars, but you don’t need to read one to read the other, and I greatly preferred Okay for Now. Author Gary D. Schmidt will be at the Texas Book Festival in Austin, TX on October 27th and 28th, 2012.


SCHMIDT, GARY D.                                  Original Date: 2011

Maryville, New York; 1968. Eighth-grader Doug, who loves baseball statistics and drawing, manages to be upbeat and honorable–despite having an abusive father, a brother who has been accused of robbery, and another brother who has returned from Vietnam injured. Companion to The Wednesday Wars (DB/RC 65788). For grades 6-9.

BR   19362         DB   73716


SCHMIDT, GARY D.                                  Original Date: 2007

Long Island, 1967. Seventh-grader Holling Hoodhood knows that Mrs. Baker “hates his guts” because she would have Wednesday afternoons free if he went to catechism or Hebrew school like his classmates. Mrs. Baker worries about her husband in Vietnam and introduces a reluctant Holling to Shakespeare. For grades 5-8.

BR   17810         DB   65788

Happy Banned Books Week, September 30th – October 6th

Banned Book Week celebrates the freedom to read and challenges us to read books that have caused controversy. Since 1990, the Office of Intellectual Freedom at the American Library Association has been keeping track of books that are challenged at public and school libraries around the country. The American Library Association describes a book challenge as, “a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness”. In 2011, 326 books were challenged around the country. Books are challenged for a variety of reasons and what some people consider classics others consider challenge worthy.

For more information about Banned Book Week and more challenge worthy reads go to:


Read what all the fuss is about with this selection of 2011’s challenged books from around the United States. You may be surprised to find some of these titles on the list.


COLLINS, SUZANNE                                  Original Date: 2008

In a future North America, Panem’s rulers maintain control through a televised survival competition pitting teens from twelve districts in a fight to the death. Sixteen-year-olds Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark are this year’s girl and boy contestants from District Twelve. Some violence. For junior and senior high readers.

BR   18488         BT   03374         DB   68384       DX   68384

LB   06861      RC   68384


ALEXIE, SHERMAN                                   Original Date: 2007

Spokane Indian Reservation. Fourteen-year-old Junior–beset with physical problems caused by brain damage–transfers to an all-white town school. Called a traitor by his best friend and Tonto by his new classmates, Junior uses humor and wit to bridge the cultural divide. Some strong language. For junior and senior high readers.

DB   65403  DLD       RC   65403


NAYLOR, PHYLLIS REYNOLDS                          Original Date: 1985

Throughout the summer, Alice McKinley has been remembering all of the dumb things she’s ever done.  She’s had no mother for years; no wonder she’s always getting into embarrassing situations.  Now that sixth grade is beginning and she’s almost a teenager, Alice figures she’d better find a good role model–fast. This is the first in a series of 25 books.

RC   25250


HUXLEY, ALDOUS                                    Original Date: 1946

A satire of a technocratic future society in which people are rigidly classified and kept happy by a government-administered drug. When two bureaucrats, Lenina and Bernard, travel to a “savage” reservation, they “rescue” a woman and her adult son, abandoned long ago, and return them to civilization. An argument with the “World Controller” demonstrates the incompatibility of individual freedom and a totally  planned society. For senior high and older readers.

BR   01601         BR   11922         DB   47108  DLD     DX   47108    LB   02990         RC   47108


SONES, SONYA                                      Original Date: 2001

Fourteen-year-old Sophie describes her life in prose poems. She discusses her search for Mr. Right, her unhappy parents, her school activities, and her friends, Grace and Rachel. Grade 1 braille. For senior high readers.

BR   14156


LEE, HARPER                                       Original Date: 1960

Scout Finch is an outspoken and literate six-year-old tomboy when she begins her tale of growing up in a small Alabama town with her brother Jem and her attorney father Atticus. The children’s intense curiosity about a reclusive neighbor is eclipsed by Atticus’s attempt to defend   a black man against charges of raping a white woman. Pulitzer Prize winner.

BR   12850        DB   36414  DLD     DX   36414   RC   36414

Austin Teen Book Festival — Palmer Events Center, September 29th

I am looking forward to the Austin Teen Book Festival, which will be taking place at the Palmer Events Center in Austin on September 29th from 9:30 am – 5 pm. The festival is sponsored by the Austin Public Library Friends Foundation and BookPeople, a local bookstore. The festival is in its third year and is the biggest book festival of its kind in the country. Festival Director Heather Schubert says of the festival, “The Austin Teen Book Festival’s rapid growth is a testament to the extent to which the event is valued by teens, parents, librarians, and teachers.” This year they are expecting a crowd of over 4,000 people!

For more information about Festival, please check out their website at: http://austinteenbookfestival.com/

Or their Facebook page at:


The keynote speakers at this year’s Festival will be Neal Shusterman and Libba Bray.

Neal Shusterman will be speaking about the sequel to his 2007 book, Unwind.


In a future world, parents may “unwind,” or disassemble, their offspring between the ages of thirteen and eighteen to harvest their body parts for others’ use. Teens Connor, Risa, and Lev fight to uphold their beliefs and perhaps save their own lives.

RC   66918        

DB  66918                                            

Libba Bray won the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Fiction from the American Library Assocation for her book, Going Bovine.

GOING BOVINE                                                          

After sixteen-year-old Cameron Smith is diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob, aka mad cow, disease, he sets off in search of a cure with a death-obsessed, video-gaming dwarf he meets in the hospital. Strong language. Michael L. Printz Award.                                                                                                                             

DB   72565                                                            

There will be panel discussions on a variety of topics, and the authors will speak on these panels throughout the day.

This year’s panels include:

  • “Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need Roads,” featuring Neal Shusterman, Marissa Meyer, Rachel Cohn, Jeff Hirsch, and Dan Krokos, and moderated by Greg Leitich Smith.
  • “We’re Not in Kansas Anymore,” featuring Libba Bray, Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl, Leigh Barduga, and Rae Carson, and moderated by Sarah Rees Brennan.
  • “Creature Comfort,” featuring Scott Speer, Anna Banks, Gina Damico, Tara Hudson, and Martha Brockenbrough, and moderated by Sophie Jordan.
  • “Real Life Happens,” featuring Jesse Andrews, Elizabeth Scott, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, E.M. Kokie, and Jessica Lee Anderson, and moderated by John Corey Whaley.

Moderator John Corey Whaley won the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Fiction and the William A Morris YA Debut Award for his novel, Where Things Come Back.

WHERE THINGS COME BACK                                              

Seventeen-year-old Cullen Witter believes he knows everything about his dreary town of Lily, Arkansas. Then his cousin dies from an overdose, his brother Gabriel goes missing, and an extinct woodpecker reemerges. Strong language. For senior high and older readers. Printz and Morris Awards.                                                                                                                         

BR   19488       DB   74276                                          

  • “The Thrill of the Chase,” featuring Will Richter, Lex Thomas, Eliot Schrefer, and Allie Carter, and moderated by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.
  • “What Would You Do For Love?,” featuring Allie Condie, Kresley Cole, Jessica Shirvington, Tamara Ireland Stone, and Jessica Khoury, and moderated by Tracy Deebs.

TBP has books by many of the authors attending the festival in our collection, such as Libba Bray, Sarah Rees Brennan, Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Ally Carter, Rachel Cohn, Ally Condie Kami Garcia, Neal Shusterman, John Corey Whaley.

The Teen Book Festival should be a great event for readers and writers of Teen fiction. Hope to see you there!

National Book Festival — September 22nd and 23rd

The 2012 Library of Congress National Book Festival is September 22nd and 23rd in Washington, D.C. The first National Book Festival was in 2001, and was hosted by then First Lady Laura Bush. She based the idea for the National Book Festival on the already established Texas Book Festival which is at the end of October each year in Austin.  This year the National Book Festival is featuring over 135 authors, reading related activities and discussions, and a behind the scenes tour of the Library of Congress.  

The Pavilion of the States, sponsored by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, will be saluting the literary traditions of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories. Each state was asked to select a book that best represents its literary tradition. This year the title that Texas is featuring is:

Old Yeller  by Fred Gipson

Original Date: 1956                                                      

1860s Texas. Fourteen-year-old Travis at first resents the big, yellow stray dog that hangs around his home, but he comes to love and depend on him. With his father away on a cattle drive, Travis is the man of the house and looks to Old Yeller for help and protection. Newbery Award winner.                                                                  

This book is available in Braille, on digital cartridge, and on cassette from TBP. Please call us at 1-800-252-9605 and ask for one of the following book numbers:

  • BR   07798         
  • BR   11976         
  • DB   47404 
  • RC   15325        
  • RC   47404   

There will be podcasts and webcasts throughout the National Book Festival, as well as many people using Twitter to discuss the Festival. For more information about the National Book Festival, or to listen to the podcasts or webcasts, please go to the festival website:          http://www.loc.gov/bookfest/

Book Club Wrapup: Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer

Picture of Shannon, Saidah, and Dani sitting around a table, with a conference phone in the midddle of the table.

Thanks to all who spent their Tuesday evening with us last week as we discussed Moonwalking with Einstein, and a special thanks to author Josh Foer, who called in to discuss his book with us! For those of you who were unable to attend the conference call, we have recorded the call and it will be available online soon.

Josh gave us some great advice. He said that one thing he hopes people take away from his book is that with the right kind of deliberate practice, you can do more than you think you can. We look forward to reading more books by Mr. Foer, but in the meantime here is a link to his website (including some of his many magazine and newspaper articles):


We have also prepared a bibliography of similar reads, books mentioned in Moonwalking with Einstein, and a bibliography of books by Josh’s family members who write (his two brothers and his sister in law all have books in our library collection). You can find the bibliography here:


Since we did all the talking in our meeting on Tuesday we’d love to hear what you have to say about the book. Here are some questions for discussion (feel free to post your thoughts in our comments section):

1) Mr. Foer said that he started off thinking that these remember-ers were freaks of nature. What do you think: yea or nay? Do you think these people have average memories but train them, or that there is something innate that makes them better at this than the rest of us?

2) Do you do any brain training? What kind? Has it helped you?

3) What did you think about the book as a mix of brain science and the author’s personal story? Did it fit together well?

4) Of the characters Joshua met in the course of writing the book, who did you find the most interesting?

5) How important do you think memory is in today’s culture when we have other ways of remembering things (ie writing, photos, etc..)?

For more discussion questions see: http://www.litlovers.com/reading-guides/14-non-fiction/8342-moonwalking-with-einstein-foer

And just a reminder to TBP patrons –Join us at 7 pm on January 24th as we read and discuss No End in Sight by Rachael Scdoris. This title is available in Braille, cassette, cartridge or download from BARD.If you are a TBP patron that is interested in this program, please RSVP for this event at 1-800-252-9605.

TBP Book Club – “Moonwalking With Einstein” September 4th Author Event

The Talking Book Program is delighted to share the book “Moonwalking With Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything” in our upcoming book club event. We are particularly excited about this because the author, Joshua Foer, will be joining us.

I was lucky enough to attend an event at a local bookstore in Austin where Mr. Foer was speaking about his book. I explained that we were going to be discussing this title at an upcoming book club meeting at the library and asked if he’d be interested in discussing the book with patrons. Josh is a nice guy and said “yes”.

Please join us for a Q and A with the author of this title. Due to overwhelming response, we will be asking for patron questions before the call and use those to generate discussion with the author, rather than having patrons pose their questions directly. Please leave suggestions for questions in the comments section of this post.

I’m looking forward to reading and discussing “Moonwalking with Einstein” with patrons and the author on September 4th at 7 pm!! “Moonwalking With Einstein” is available in digital book, on BARD and in large print.

Large Print Service through the Talking Book Program

Did you know that the Talking Book Program has a growing large print collection? We have 5650 titles available in large print and in the month of July we added 28 large print titles to our collection. We are a free service and the books travel for free through the mail to your home–you don’t have to pay postage to receive or return TBP materials!

Some newish titles I have read recently include the “Eternity Springs” series by Texas writer Emily March, and “Doc” by Mary Doria Russell. We also have the popular title “Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America” by Bill O’Reilly.

Our large print collection contains titles for readers of all ages. To qualify for the Talking Book Program (including large print service) one only needs to have difficulty reading standard print, difficulty holding a book or turning pages or an organic reading disability. According to the NLS website the minimum size for large-print materials is 14-point type. Large-print materials are most commonly available in 16- to 18-point type.

A person joining the Talking Book Program has the option to read audiobooks only, Braille books only, large print only, or any combination of the three. Members of the Talking Book Program can also download audiobooks and magazines, as well as Web Braille materials.

We encourage patrons to use all services that are available—so, use your local public, school, or other library, and also take advantage of the Talking Book Program collections to expand your reading choices. Libraries and librarians can help by referring library patrons who have read through many of their local large print or audio titles to the Talking Book Program. Librarians on staff at libraries can also certify TBP applications for applicants with visual or physical disabilities!

Here is a link to bibliographies of titles in our large print collection:


To become a patron of the Talking Book Program, print and complete this application: