Archive | April, 2015

The Ultimate Book Lovers’ List (for Kids and Parents, Too)

29 Apr

If you haven’t heard, I’m heading off into the Hudson River sunset at the end of this month. It’s been my pleasure to have worked with you and your families for the past six years as the Children’s Librarian. I’ve especially enjoyed working on this blog to help you learn about new books to share with your children, expound on my own special favorites in books and film, and perhaps help you, through bibilotherapy, to support your children as they deal with issues such as bullying, separation anxiety, adding new siblings to the family, or moving away.

Now, Kerry Weinstein, the wonderful editor of this page, has asked me to put together one last post to share with you. Rather than just recommending books as I usually do, I thought that I’d pull out quotes from some of my favorite books that are specifically about characters and authors who love reading, books, and libraries. If the book is included in this list, I recommend it. I hope that some of these books will be new discoveries for you, or remind you to revisit some joyful celebrations of the world of books:

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, by Jacqueline Kelly.


“One day I would have all the books in the world, shelves and shelves of them. I would live my life in a tower of books. I would read all day long and eat peaches. And if any young knights in armor dared to come calling on their white chargers and plead with me to let down my hair, I would pelt them with peach pits until they went home.”

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith.


“From that time on, the world was hers for the reading. She would never be lonely again, never miss the lack of intimate friends. Books became her friends and there was one for every mood. There was poetry for quiet companionship. There was adventure when she tired of quiet hours. There would be love stories when she came into adolescence and when she wanted to feel a closeness to someone she could read a biography. On that day when she first knew she could read, she made a vow to read one book a day as long as she lived.”

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee.


“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.”

Coraline, by Neil Gaiman.


“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

A Light in the Attic, by Shel Silverstein.


“If you are a dreamer come in
If you are a dreamer a wisher a liar
A hoper a pray-er a magic-bean-buyer
If youre a pretender com sit by my fire
For we have some flax golden tales to spin
Come in!
Come in!”

Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White.


“Do you understand how there could be any writing in a spider’s web?”
“Oh, no,” said Dr. Dorian. “I don’t understand it. But for that matter I don’t understand how a spider learned to spin a web in the first place. When the words appeared, everyone said they were a miracle. But nobody pointed out that the web itself is a miracle.”
“What’s miraculous about a spider’s web?” said Mrs. Arable. “I don’t see why you say a web is a miracle-it’s just a web.”
“Ever try to spin one?” asked Dr. Dorian.”

Matilda, by Roald Dahl.


“From then on, Matilda would visit the library only once a week in order to take out new books and return the old ones. Her own small bedroom now became her reading-room and there she would sit and read most afternoons, often with a mug of hot chocolate beside her. She was not quite tall enough to reach things around in the kitchen, but she kept a small box in the outhouse which she brought in and stood on in order to get whatever she wanted. Mostly it was hot chocolate she made, warming the milk in a saucepan on the stove before mixing it. Occasionally she made Bovril or Ovaltine. It was pleasant to take a hot drink up to her room and have it beside her as she sat in her silent room reading in the empty house in the afternoons. The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling. She traveled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village.”

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak.


“I like that every page in every book can have a gem on it. It’s probably what I love most about writing—that words can be used in a way that’s like a child playing in a sandpit, rearranging things, swapping them around. They’re the best moments in a day of writing—when an image appears that you didn’t know would be there when you started work in the morning.”

The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate Di Camillo.


“The story is not a pretty one. There is violence in it. And cruelty. But stories that are not pretty have a certain value, too, I suppose. Everything, as you well know (having lived in this world long enough to have figured out a thing or two for yourself), cannot always be sweetness and light.”

Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson.


“If someone had taken that book out of my hand said, You’re too old for this maybe I’d never have believed that someone who looked like me could be in the pages of the book that someone who looked like me had a story.”

Here Lies the Librarian, by Richard Peck.


“What, in your opinion, Miss Ridpath, makes a great librarian, “the judge wondered.”

Irene pinched off her spectacles, “I can only quote the words of Melville Dewey of the Dewey Decimal Classification.” She stood then and began to quote, “To my thinking, a great librarian must have a clear head, a strong hand, and above all, a great heart. And when I look into the future, I am inclined to think that most of the men who will achieve this greatness will be women.”

Good Books, Good Times! A Poetry Anthology, by Lee Bennett Hopkins.


I Met a Dragon Face to Face, by Jack Prelutsky

I met a dragon face to face
the year when I was ten,
I took a trip to outer space,
I braved a pirate’s den,
I wrestled with a wicked troll,
and fought a great white shark,
I trailed a rabbit down a hole,
I hunted for a snark.

I stowed aboard a submarine,
I opened magic doors,
I traveled in a time machine,
and searched for dinosaurs,
I climbed atop a giant’s head,
I found a pot of gold,
I did all this in books I read
when I was ten years old.

That’s it. Off I go. South, perhaps, where there are not eight months of snow. As Jerry Seinfeld once memorably said, “My parents are in Florida. They didn’t want to go, but they’re sixty. It’s the law.” I am hoping for some new adventures. I am hoping to have time to read books. I am hoping to learn a new language (Spanish is what I have in mind), and may be to tell some stories to surprised people who think that stories only live in books.

Be good, be happy. Maybe we’ll talk again.

-Written by Lois Rubin Gross, Senior Children’s Librarian

Changing One’s Life One Recipe at a Time: The Call of the Farm, All or Nothing, and My Life From Scratch

22 Apr

Smells and tastes associated with foods are often evocative of certain significant times in our lives.  I still feel like I can smell and taste the fragrant chicken and corn on the cob my parents made on their grill the day I got engaged.  But sometimes food isn’t just part of a moment in one’s life, it can be the catalyst for change.  In all three of these memoirs food was a motivation for the authors to find themselves and to transform their lives whether it was through cooking, baking, or even growing crops.

The Call of the Farm: An Unexpected Year of Getting Dirty, Home Cooking, and Finding Myself: A Love Story, with Recipes, by Rochelle Bilow.

I grew up in rural Central Jersey before moving further north and closer to the city.  Although I had classmates who lived on dairy and pig farms, I still had only a vague idea of all that went into farming so I understand the curiosity Rochelle Bilow had about farm life.  Bilow’s father grew up on a dairy farm, but she herself only had minor experiences with rural living when visiting her uncle and cousins who now run the place.  In her years after graduating school and getting a culinary degree she struggled to get by with freelancing jobs as a food writer.  An assignment from a local paper brought her to a small CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm in Central New York.  She was intrigued by what she saw at the farm with both the emphasis on sustainable local food and the camaraderie amongst the farmers (one in particular catches her eye).  She starts volunteering and then gets hired part time and moves onto the farm where she learns not only about how to plant a variety of crops and care for livestock, but also about herself.  Although throughout The Call of the Farm, one senses this love story may not have a happy ending, there are many sweet, funny, and touching moments.  The Call of the Farm is divided into seasons with recipes that take advantage of fresh produce.  Check out her book at the Hoboken Public Library today or you can also read more of Bilow’s writing in the magazine Bon Appetit, which the Hoboken Library subscribes too.

Although urban Hoboken seems removed from farm life we are only an hour or two away from some great New Jersey and New York farms with amazing local produce.  I love cheese, so my two favorite local farms to visit are Valley Shepherd in Long Valley for their fabulous sheep’s milk cheeses and Bobolink Dairy in Milford who has tasty cow’s milk cheeses and wood-fired breads including their amazing bread with garlic roasted in duck fat.

All or Nothing: One Chef’s Appetite for the Extreme, by Jesse Schenker.


Jesse Schenker is well known for his New York restaurant Recette as well as his recently opened The Gander.  He won his battle on the cult TV show Iron Chef America, but even more impressive in All or Nothing is the battle he won against drug addiction.  From an early age Schenker was obsessed with food (a peanut butter and jelly French toast he created as a kid is now in a more refined form a PB&J “Pain Perdue” on his brunch menu at Recette).  But unfortunately his restlessness and nervous energy led him to self-medicate as a teen with a variety of drugs.  His parents, while loving, were in denial about his behavior and he gradually spiraled further and further into addiction.  I found some of All or Nothing almost painful to read with its vivid, unflinching descriptions of his life as a junkie which eventually lead him to jail time.  Rehab while in prison leads him on the path to recovery, but it is cooking that gives him a new drive, leading him to a successful job at one of Gordon Ramsey’s restaurants and then on to a successful pop up and then a place of his own.  In less than ten years he went from living on the street to being a successful, award winning chef.  I thought it was interesting to see how some of his skills hustling to get by on the street helped him with dealing with the trials of the restaurant industry.  No recipes are included, but each chapter in All or Nothing is based on a different cooking technique, with its definition, that correlates to its contents such as “coddled” for his childhood.  I found the way Schenker rebuilt his life was inspirational and his descriptions of food mouthwatering (I was left wanting to make reservations to check out Recette in person).  You can borrow the print book from BCCLS libraries or the eBook from eLibraryNJ.

My Life from Scratch: A Sweet Journey of Starting Over, One Cake at a Time
Originally published under the title: Confections of a Closet Master Baker: One Woman’s Sweet Journey from Unhappy Hollywood Executive to Contented Country Baker, by Gesine Bullock-Prado.


Image via Amazon

Gesine Bullock-Prado is probably most famous for being the sister of popular actress Sandra Bullock, but she has plenty to be proud of in her own right.  She graduated from law school and for years she put her legal knowledge to use by reviewing contracts and helping to run her sister’s production company.  At some point though she got tired of Hollywood’s façade and moved to Vermont where she started her own bakery specializing in macaroons and a variety of mouthwatering pastries and other dessert treats.  The original title to Bullock-Prado’s memoir pokes fun at the fact that in image conscious Hollywood, loving to bake seemed more taboo than an eating disorder.  Each chapter looks at a different portion of her day, from opening to closing the store, which triggers memories from her past.  Some of my favorite parts of My Life from Scratch were when she described funny stories from her childhood with her opera singer health food obsessed mom.  She also captures insider looks at both less than glitzy Hollywood and quirky Vermont that few visitors get to fully see.  Bullock-Prado depicts herself as a bit misanthropic, but her warm feelings for her regular customers and her family shine through.

Gesine Gourmet and Confectionary closed in 2008, but throughout My Life from Scratch are recipes for sweet treats including Starry, Starry Nights decadent sounding chocolate cookies that you can bake at home.  Besides Confections of a Closet Master Baker, Hoboken library card holders can also borrow her cookbooks Bake It Like You Mean It and Pie it Forward from BCCLS libraries.  Those who prefer eBooks can borrow My Life From Scratch, Pie it Forward, and Sugar Baby from eLibraryNJ.  Plus you can check out her blog G Bakes! for more culinary inspiration.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

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