Hello and welcome to Friends of the Rochester Public Library’s Blog!

Hello and welcome to our new blog!  If you’ve followed us from our old Blogspot Blog, we’re so glad you found us!  If you’re brand new to us, we’re so glad to have you!

On this site, we’ll continue what we started over at our old site, but we’ve incorporated some new changes to help you better navigate our blog.  We’ll still continue to provide you with up-to-date library information, book reviews and other interesting tidbits; but we’ll also try to keep special tabs at the top of this page, filled with easy links to information about important events that you won’t want to miss.

So come on in, grab a cup of coffee, have a seat in your most comfortable chair, and join us each day as we bring you all the best information about the events sponsored by Friends of the Rochester Public Library.

Note: We’ll be fully up and running on Monday, Tomorrow!

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!
by Catherine. H. Armstrong

Theodore Seuss Geisel

If he were alive today, Dr. Seuss would be celebrating his 108th Birthday.  Since he’s no longer with us, The National Education Association has designated this week – beginning on March 2nd – as Read Across America Week in honor of that beloved author, Theodore Seuss Geisel.

Whoa!  His last name was  Geisel?  Why do we call him Dr. Seuss, then?  Believe it or not, Dr. Seuss used to tell people that he was saving his real name for when he finally penned the “Great American Novel” that every author aspires.  Probably that wasn’t true, but it sure made for a great story which was, after all, exactly what Dr. Seuss was all about.

Surprisingly, Dr. Seuss had no children of his own.  When asked about this, he once responded in typical Dr. Seuss fashion – with a smile and a bit of humor saying, “You make ’em.  I’ll amuse ’em.”

Seuss’ first book was, quite surprisingly, not an easy sell to publishers.  After being turned down by dozens of publishers, Seuss was on the verge of throwing it away when he – completely by chance – ran into a former classmate who had recently been appointed juvenile editor of Vanguard Press.  This former classmate, Mike McClintock, invited Seuss up to his office and immediately offered a contract for the overwhelmingly rejected, And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street. 

Dr. Seuss was often asked where he got ideas for his stories.  Since the answer to this question was a mystery even to himself, Seuss would frequently answer this question with a completely invented-on-the-spot answer.

Said Seuss to one interviewer: 

“This is the most asked question of any successful author. Most authors will not disclose their sourcefor fear that other, less successful authors will chisel in on their territory. However, I am willing to takethat chance. I get all my ideas in Switzerland, near the Forka Pass. There is a little town called Gletch,and two thousand feet up above Gletch there is a smaller hamlet called Uber Gletch. I go there on thefourth of August every summer to get my cuckoo clock repaired. While the cuckoo is in the hospital, Iwander around and talk to the people in the streets. They are very strange people, and I get my ideasfrom them.”

While we may never know the truth to his inspiration for many of his works, we do know that the inspiration for The Cat in the Hat came from a challenge issued by the director of Houghton Mifflin’s education division who said to Seuss, “Write me a story that first-graders can’t put down!”  He gave Seuss a list of 348 words, and asked him to limit the book’s vocabulary to no more than 225 different words selected from the list.  When published in March of 1957, The Cat in the Hat became an instant success and sold nearly a million copies by 1960, making it arguably the most famous and well-loved among children’s books of the 20th century.

Celebrate the birth of one of world’s most beloved writers with a loved one this week.  Read to your children.  Offer to read in a classroom.  Or even just take a moment to regress back to your own child with a copy of Green Eggs and Ham.

For more information on Dr. Seuss, together with video and interactive games for children, visit www.seussville.com.


Nel, Phillip. Biography of Dr. Seuss. 2012. Seussville.com 29 Feb 2012, 18:23, http://www.seussville.com/#/author

March 2nd Begins "Read Across America Week"

Read Across America Week!
by Helen McIver

In honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday on March 2nd, the National Education Association (NEA) has set aside this week to honor the birthday of one of the world’s most beloved children’s author.

The National Education Association’s Read Across America began in 1998 and is an annual reading motivation and awareness program celebrated every March 2nd to encourage reading and literacy. They hope to create lifelong successful readers. 

This year’s theme is green in 2012 as NEA partners with The Lorax movie to bring the magic of books and film to the community.
There are so many wonderful Dr. Seuss books which inspire and encourage reading, and there is nothing like reading with a child.  Joy can be found not only by sharing the story, but also by sharing their reactions and discussing their thoughts. 

Don’t forget to read to your adult loved ones as well. That special poem, silly rhyme, moving passage, joke that you can’t wait to share, or just the book you are reading now. 

Winter 2011 Newsletter is Now Available!

Have you seen the most recent edition of the Friends of the Library newsletter?  If not, what’cha waiting for?  There’s tons of great information in there!  Just follow the links below to see the newsletter you want to read.  Take a look today!

An Invitation! – Book Talk with Friends

Featured author, Ken Allsen
will discuss his book on March 8th
Join us March 8th

Book Talk
with Friends

1:00 pm

Plummer House
1091 Plummer Lane SW
Rochster, MN  55902

Friends of Rochester PublicLibrary invites you to join us for an afternoon of conversation, coffee and cake atPlummer House. Popular local author andhistorian Ken Allsen will talk about his booksand will feature his most recent work,  OldFrontenac Minnesota.

In addition, the Friends’ Bookstore will have a selection of books for sale by MinnesotaMystery writers and books of regional interest.

Cost is $10.00 and reservations can be made online by following this link or by calling (507) 328-2341.

Mark your calendars and confirm your attendance today!  Remember: Thursday, March 8th at 1:00 PM at Rochester’s Plummer House.  Don’t miss it!

Presidents’ Day! "How to" download eBooks

by Catherine H. Armstrong

It’s Presidents’ Day and libraries across the nation – including the Rochester Public Library and those in the surrounding communities – are closed to celebrate!  But just because you can’t physically walk into the library doesn’t mean you need to be denied the opportunity to check out that book you’ve been dying to read!  If you have an e-reader or computer, you can still go to Rochester or SELCO’s digital libraries and get that book you’ve been wanting and download it in just seconds.  It’s really quite easy!  All you need is an active library card and either a computer or an e-reader.

To begin, you will want to determine which format you need.  The most popular e-readers are the Nook, the Kindle and the iPad.  If you’re using a Nook, then the format you need is the “Adobe EPUB eBook.”  If you’re using a Kindle, then you’ll need the “Kindle Book” format.  If, however, you’re using an iPad, you have the options of downloading the free apps for both Nook and Kindle, as well as a variety of other options, so you should select whichever format you prefer or for which you have the corresponding app.  For me, I prefer the Kindle app and almost always download the “Kindle Book” option for the simple reason that I don’t need to have my iPad handy to download the book, nor is there any other software required other than the Kindle app on my iPad.  From my computer, I can simply use the option to “Get Book” after I’ve checked out the title, and it automatically takes me to my Amazon account and gives me the prompts to send it to my iPad from whatever computer I’m on.  Easy peasy!

If you still don’t know which format you require, don’t despair!  The Overdrive program is the liaison of sorts between your digital device or computer and the library’s e-book collection.  To determine which format you require for your device, follow this link and look for the option to “Get Started With…”  There you will see a list of devices necessary to view or listen to the library’s e-books.  Included in this list is the Kindle and Nook, but also the Sony Reader and other e-book readers, as well as information on Mac computers and PCs running Windows.  And that’s really just the beginning.  Just go to the page and select the device you prefer to use to read your book.

Once you’ve selected the format you require, you may or may not need to download additional software to your device.  If you do, however, require further software, the Overdrive Media Console and Adobe Digital Editions are the two most commonly required software downloads.  To download either of these software programs, you can follow this link.  Still feeling a bit unsure of what you need and how to get the appropriate software?  Don’t worry, Overdrive offers a wonderful step-by-step tutorial to help you.  Just follow this link for a guided tour.

Once you’ve selected your format and have any necessary software downloaded to your device, you’re ready to go!  It’s time to browse the library’s e-book selection. You can access the Rochester Public Library’s online digital catalogue by following this link.  If you don’t find something that grabs your interest there, you can also check out SELCO’s digital catalogue by following this link.

For most “readable” versions (versus audio versions) of books, you’ll want to look for those books that are offered as “Adobe EPUB eBook” or “Kindle Book.”  These are easily labelled just below the book title.  If the book is currently available to be checked out, you can “Add to Cart” and you will be taken through the prompts to either continue browsing or immediately check the title out.  If the title is currently in use, you can choose the option to “Place Request” and you will be prompted to submit your e-mail address to be notified with the book is available.

Once the book has been checked out, you can either download it to your device immediately from the check-out confirmation page; or you can wait to download it at a later time.  If you choose to wait until later, simply go back to the library’s digital catalogue, choose the tab for “My eAccount,” followed by the tab for “My eShelf” and type in your library card number and PIN to be taken to the page that shows all of the ebooks you’ve recently checked out.

Books from the library’s e-book selection are typically checked out for 14 or 21 days.  While the default is set at 14 days, you can use the prompt to change the check-out period to 21 days.  And the best part is that you don’t have to worry about returning it and paying overdue fees if you forget.  Once your loan period has expired, the book just “disappears” from your collection.  If you haven’t finished the book, then go back in to the library’s digital collect and check it out again.  It’s that easy!

If you have any questions, leave a comment below and I’ll try to answer it for you.  Enjoy your Presidents’ Day and Happy Reading!

Book Review – Winter Garden

Winter Garden
Kristin Hannah

I love a book that not only makes me want to turn the pages, but inspires me to want to know more about a true event in history.  Winter Garden is exactly that type of book.
Written by Kristin Hannah, Winter Garden is the story of two young women who have grown up as strangers to their own mother.  An immigrant from Russia following WWII, Anya Whitson has deliberately removed herself from the day-to-day joys of motherhood and has entirely deferred the position of nurturer to her husband.
When their father suddenly dies, Meredith and Nina Whitson are left to care for the mother they’ve never really known. Their only real connection to her has been through a fairy tale she created and occasionally told her daughters when they were small children, and never in its entirety.  As their father takes his final breaths, he demands a promise from his wife and daughters:  his wife is to tell the fairy tale to his daughters one last time to its full completion, and they are to listen to the entire story.  Thus unfolds a story so heartbreaking and shocking that it shakes the very foundation of everything Meredith and Nina thought they knew about their family and, most especially, their mother.
Winter Garden is a riveting story about the love between parent and child, and the strength of the human spirit.  The “fairy tale” Anya tells her daughters focuses on her life before she met their father and moved away from her homeland.  She tells the tale of her life in Leningrad, Russia, and of the 900-Day siege of the city by German troops during WWII that left more than 600,000 civilians dead, as they literally starved and froze to death when their provisions and outside communications had been entirely cut off by Nazi soldiers.

With much research, Hannah has recreated the events of Leningrad to provide an accurate historical perspective to a work of fiction.  As a result, Winter Garden should appeal not only to those who enjoy a good page-turner, but also to those who have a keen interest in historical fiction.

This book is available at the library in traditional format and on audio compact disc, as well as through the library’s digital catalogue in a downloadable audio version.  For more information about this book or the author’s other wonderful works, visit her website at www.kristinhannah.com.
~ Catherine H. Armstrong

Author Spotlight – Charlaine Harris

Charlaine Harris

Author Review – Charlaine Harris
by Catherine H. Armstrong

Just yesterday someone asked me to name my favorite book.  Well, I was stumped!  I really don’t have a favorite book.  I’m not even sure I could name my top ten favorite books, though there are a few titles that I know would be right near the top; like To Kill a Mockingbird, for instance.
No, for the most part, I don’t have a favorite book.  I do, however, have a lot of favorite authors.  Right now, one of my favorite authors is Charlaine Harris.  It seems that everything she writes pulls me in and makes me want more.  No, she’s not succeeded in writing “The Great American Novel,” but she tends to have a way of telling a story that makes the reader want to know more about the characters and simply just want…more.
Harris is most recently known for her Southern Vampire Mysteries, also known as the Sookie Stackhouse Series, about a telepathic young waitress in Louisiana.  This series works under the premise that the Japanese have developed a blood substitute that has allowed vampires to “come out of the coffin” and live alongside humans without being a threat to the human population.  Yes, it stretches the imagination and readers do need the ability to suspend reality for a little while, but somehow Harris makes these books work.  In fact, they work so well that HBO has developed a very successful television program, True Blood, which uses the foundation of Harris’ books to create the television program’s storyline.
Another fun series by Harris is the Harper Connelly series of books about a young woman and her step-brother who travel the country helping people understand how and why their loved ones have died, and even where the bodies can be located.  Similar to the telepathic Sookie Stackhouse, the main character – Harper Connelly – has an unusual gift in that she’s able to sense the location of dead people, and can even tell you how they’ve died.
For those who are less able to suspend reality and prefer something a bit more believable, Harris also has a couple of more “normal” series under the mystery genre: The Aurora Teagarden Mysteries, and The Lily Bard Shakespeare Mysteries.  Both of these series are more mainstream  and enjoyable for those who prefer something a little less…bizarre.  Aurora Teagarden is a librarian who has a knack for discovering dead bodies and solving crimes.  She’s smart and witty, and an all-around enjoyable main character.  She’s the kind of character you can enjoy and then pass along to your mother or grandmother and know that either of them will enjoy it, too.
The Lily Bard Shakespeare series is also a more realistic series of mysteries about a young woman in the small town of Shakespeare, Arkansas.  Lilly has had a difficult past and has moved to Shakespeare to become a different person with a new life.  Like Aurora Teagarden, Lily Bard has a knack for finding dead bodies and solving crimes.  As much as she tries to escape the violence of her past, it seems to be that it’s her past that makes her best equipped to solve the crimes of the present.  
As with most books in a series, it’s always best to start at the beginning.  While Harris does a good job of bringing new readers into the fold, there’s just nothing like getting to know a character from the first pages of the first book and seeing how that character evolves with each new book release.  With that in mind, readers should consider starting each series with the first books in each as listed below.
Southern Vampire Mysteries:  Dead Until Dark (Book 1)
Harper Connelly Series:  Grave Sight (Book 1)
Aurora Teagarden Series:  Real Murders (Book 1)
Lily Bard’s Shakespeare Series:  Shakespeare’s Landlord (Book 1)
For more information about Charlaine Harris or her many enjoyable novels, visit the author’s website at www.charlaineharris.com.
What do you like to read?  Do you have a favorite author and, if so, who and why?  Leave a comment below and help me (and other readers) discover our next favorite authors.