Tag Archives: children’s books

Celebrate Roald Dahl’s 100th Birthday!

7 Sep

One of my favorite childhood memories was my mom reading James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to my sister and me.  I loved the whimsical (and sometimes a bit scary) fantasies.  This September 13 marks the 100th anniversary of Dahl’s birth.  In Manchester, England the weekend before they are celebrating with a two day event complete with a giant inflatable peach, visit from the BFG, Willy Wonka’s Garden, and more.  The Hoboken Public Library has a variety of Dahl’s books, books on CD, and movies to spark your imagination; here are just a few to get you started.

James and the Giant Peach

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James and the Giant Peach was one of my two favorite books as a child (the other was E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web).  James accidentally grows an enormous peach and finds friendly talking insects inside who travel with him on a thrilling journey.  You can take out the book from the Hoboken Public Library and the movie adaptation from BCCLS libraries.

The BFG

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The movie adaptation of The BFG was in theaters this summer.  The BFG stands for Big Friendly Giant, who unlike other giants doesn’t want to eat little children, but instead sends them good dreams.  He befriends a little girl named Sofie who helps him stop the less friendly giants from causing mayhem.  If you enjoyed the film, borrow the book or book on CD today at the Hoboken Public Library.

Matilda

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Matilda isn’t any ordinary girl, she has telekinetic powers which she uses to deal with her horrible parents and headmistress.  The musical adaptation of Matilda has been playing on Broadway since April of 2013, but if you haven’t seen it yet, you might want to get tickets soon since it scheduled to end its run on January 1. You can borrow Matilda as a book or its movie adaptation on DVD from the Hoboken Public Library

The Witches

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Roald Dahl’s The Witches is perfect if you are looking for a spooky Halloween read.  A boy must help his grandmother stop witches from turning all of the world’s children into mice.  You can borrow the book in print or on CD from HPL and the movie adaptation from BCCLS libraries.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is probably Dahl’s best known work; it features a group of children who get a dream tour of a magical chocolate factory.  Remember not only Dahl, but the recently passed actor Gene Wilder in the 1971 Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (my preferred version, despite being a huge Tim Burton and Johnny Depp fan and the author’s disapproval of the adaptation).  You can also borrow Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: A Play adapted by Richard R. George if your little aspiring thespians would like to act the book out.  The library has the book’s sequel Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator that reveals what happens after the elevator went into space.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

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I was surprised and delighted recently when I learned the screenplay for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was written by Roald Dahl along with Ken Hughes.  Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a fun fantastic story about an inventor of whistling sweets and his flying car.  It was my favorite musical as a kid and I will probably have the songs from it stuck in my head all day.  Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is based on a children’s novel by James Bond author Ian Fleming.  Dahl also wrote the screenplay for the Bond film You Only Live Twice.

Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life

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Image via Amazon

Adults can always enjoy rereading Dahl’s children’s classics, but for those looking for something written for a more mature audience you can borrow from our library Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life, a collection of darkly humorous short stories he wrote in the 1940s and 1950s.  Also available for adults at our library is Dahl’s Two Fables.

The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington by Jennet Conant

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Dahl may have not only written a screen play about a spy, he may have been one himself!  You can read about his involvement with the British Secret Service in Conat’s The Irregulars.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

Painting a Picture with Words: The Witch of Painted Sorrows; Paris, He Said; Seven Days in the Art World, and Ozzie and the Art Contest

20 May

There is a saying that a picture is worth a thousand words.  A single work of art can inspire many emotions and ideas.  For those short on time all of these works are under a thousand words, but they do all use the art world as inspiration.  In the case of The Witch of Painted Sorrows and Paris, He Said the protagonists’ art takes them to unexpected places.  The nonfiction Seven Days in the Art World explores an interesting insider’s look behind the scenes of what happens in the art world.  The fun picture book Ozzie and the Art Contest teaches some important life lessons to your little ones.  All three books are available from BCCLS libraries and as digital audiobooks (or as an eBook in the case of Ozzie) from Hoopla.

For those who are looking to view some unique art stop by our second floor gallery space where we feature a different artist’s or group of artists’ work each month.  Last month we featured a group show with artists from hob’art. In May we are featuring work from local Calabro and Connors School students.

Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton

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Sarah Thorton’s Seven Days in the Art World was researched over more than seven days, but it sets up the idea of focusing on seven different aspects of not only art’s creation, but how it is sold. Some of the highlights for me were going to a Christie’s Art Auction, a crit at a California art school where students discuss their art work in depth, how a Turner prize winner is decided upon, and behind the scenes of the publishers of Artforum Magazine (which you can check out from the Hoboken Public Library).  I am a fan of Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, whose clever bright work merges the creative with the commercial in the vein of Andy Warhol, so I especially enjoyed getting a behind the scenes look at his studio.  If you have lived in this area for a while, you may remember back in 2003 when Murakami’s Reversed Double Helix, featuring his adorable bright mutant sculptures, many mushrooms, and eyeball balloons took over Rockefeller Plaza.  All the individual aspects of Seven Days in the Art World are enjoyable, but what is most intriguing is how the different aspects of the art world interact with each other.  Art on one hand is valued because of its ability to move our understanding beyond the common everyday world, but its commercialization means buyers now purchase it as an investment rather than simply for its artistic merit.  For those looking for more of Thornton’s insights into the lives of artists checkout her recent work 33 Artists in 3 Acts.

The Witch of Painted Sorrows by M.J. Rose

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The Witch of Painted Sorrows is a haunting thriller that promises to be the first of a new trilogy.  Set during the turn of the last century, Sandrine has fled New York and her abusive husband to come to the center of the art world, Paris, to take shelter with her beloved grandmother.  But when she finds her grandmother, a famous Parisian courtesan, has abandoned her home, Sandrine discovers hidden away some mysterious and dangerous family secrets.  Sandrine takes up painting against her grandmother’s wishes; she even enters the famous École des Beaux-Arts disguised as a man.  Her work and talent go beyond what one might expect of an untrained artist and her painting gradually goes from a pursuit to an obsession.  Her painting also unlocks her previously hidden passionate side and she begins an affair with a handsome architect.  Her grandmother claims Sandrine is being possessed by La Lune, an ancestor who was both a great artist as well as a witch. La Lune has done so before and there are a series of beautiful portraits of ancestors all wearing the same necklace that Sandrine now feels compelled to don.  The power of La Lune reminded me of The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde and how art seems magical in its ability to preserve the memory of person for future generations even after the person themselves is gone. Several of Rose’s other series are available to borrow and The Secret Language of Stones the next in The Daughters of La Lune series will come out in mid-July.

Paris, He Said by Christine Sneed

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Paris, He Said is also set in the city of lights, but in present day.  Jayne is bored in her New York office job and longs to become successful as an artist, so it seems like a dream come true when she starts dating Laurent, an older Frenchman who sweeps her away to Paris where she works in his gallery.  Jayne struggles though with both how she and others view her relationship, as well as her confidence as an artist.  Part of the novel is written from Laurent’s perspective, which gives an intriguing insight into how different people perceive the actions of others compared with what their actual motivations are.  Laurent was also an aspiring artist before deciding instead to open his gallery and promote other artist’s work.  Like Seven Days in the Art World; Paris, He Said draws attention to the odd juxtaposition of the creativity of the private artistic endeavor with the very public and commercial nature of showing and selling work.  Despite the fact that Jayne is in her thirties, this still felt very much falling in to the new adult genre with the protagonist struggling to discover her place in the world post school.  If you enjoy this work you can check out Sneed’s first novel, Little Known Facts, or her short story collection Portraits of a Few of the People I’ve Made Cry, which deals with other complicated romantic relationships.

Ozzie and the Art Contest by Dana Sullivan

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Dana Sullivan was inspired by his own disappointments in the art world to write Ozzie and the Art Contest.  Ozzie is an Australian/French Ultramarine Blue Heeler who loves art so is excited when his class takes part in a big art contest.  But unfortunately for Ozzie, the art contest doesn’t go exactly how he had hoped.  Ozzie and his animal classmates are depicted in fun ink and watercolor illustrations; I especially liked the snazzy retro glasses on Ozzie’s feline teacher Miss Cattywhompus.  Children will learn about the importance of following directions and that part of the joy of art is in its creation and not simply in being the best; lessons we as adults would often benefit from being reminded of as well.  If you and the kids in your life enjoy Ozzie and the Art Contest, you can check out Sullivan’s Kay Kay’s Alphabet Safari from BCCLS libraries and from Hoopla as a digital picture book.

You can make your own art by stopping by one of our Wednesday morning art workshops in May.  Every class is stand alone and will be in the style of a different artist.  Beginners are welcome!  First come gets a spot.  See our adult event page for more details.

If you are an art lover, as we discussed in a previous post you can borrow museum passes for the Frick, Guggenheim, and more from our first floor circulation desk if you are a Hoboken Resident Library Card Holder.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

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