The Woman Who Would Be King

The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut’s Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt by Kara Cooney

Hatshepsut's Cartouche

I’ve been wanting to read this for awhile, and so when I was browsing for a new audiobook to read, I grabbed for this one. This book was a very intriguing glimpse into the Egyptian royal family in the Eighteenth Dynasty, religion/mythology, and culture. I figured that naturally a pharaoh’s wife/daughter would be involved in religious ceremonies, but I had never heard of her duties as “god’s wife of Amun”, or that it would be so sexual. It was a bit odd to think about the Egyptians believing that the world was started by a god masturbating. The intricacies of palace life are a bit over my head, but I know that I would not have wanted to be a royal woman in Egyptian times as their lives were so rigid and controlled.

The book goes into great detail about Hatshepsut’s father Thutmose I, who was not the original successor to the throne but most likely a high powered general, and her mother Ahmose (the great wife – chief among all the wives and harem). Hatshepsut herself was married to her half-brother Thutmose II, who was the third in line to the throne originally, but was sickly and died early. She next ended up begin regent to her toddler step-son Thutmose III, and later because she was “intellectually ambitious” seized the chance to be co-king with him. She bought her support with the elites of the kingdom and started an extensive building program, originally started by her father Thutmose I. The co-regency was also a time of great peace and prosperity, as evidenced by her very successive journey to Punt.

Hatshepsut Expediton to Punt

Part of Hatshepsut’s wall painting of the Expedition to Punt from her Mortuary Temple at Deir el Bahri,  Luxor, Egypt

The Mortuary Temple of King Hatshepsut, aka the Djeser-Djeseru, the Holy of Holies

Entrance to Mortuary Temple at Deir el Bahri, Luxor, Egypt. Called Djeser-Djeseru, aka “Holy of Holies” [this is someplace I’ve always wanted to go, even before I read this brilliant biography]

As much as some historians try to claim that she was a ruthless power-grabber who took advantage of a precarious political situation for her own gain, I really think that she was trying to not let her father’s legacy die out and took the opportunity to rule a bit. Yes it was not traditional and she stretched all kind of boundaries, including revamping/re-sexing the gods but it worked for her and her people at the time. And if there was disension in the ranks, so to speak, Thutmose III didn’t speak up about it until he was pretty much full-grown. In fact he didn’t deface or knock-down her sculptures until the very end of his reign, and even then, it seems to be more about a succession issue (putting a son with no royal connections on the throne) than actual contempt of his aunt I think. It’s hard to make an accurate assessment of the time because there was no written record of how others felt about it, instead having to go on a lot of conjecture as the author/historian does in the book. So yeah, she makes a lot of assumptions, but I agreed with most of it. 5 stars.

hatshepsutbust

Seated Hatshepsut statue

Hatshepsut as King with feminine attributes

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Banned Books Week 2015

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Banned Books Week (BBW) for 2015 will be starting today Sept 27 – Oct 3rd. I’ve been writing about this week for the past three years, and I actually love doing it every year because it encourages me to read new books, plus I’m always curious why people would really like to ban reading [which is essentially what people are doing when they ban a particular book], something that is so important to everything we do. I say it best in this post I wrote about Censorship back in 2012. That year, I read and reviewed A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and The Color of Earth by Kim Dong Hwa. I didn’t have a chance to write about a particular book in 2013, but last year, I finally got the chance to read Truman Capote’s In Cold BloodI’m not sure what I’ll read this year, but it will be off one of this year’s lists or the Classics Challenged book list.

As a Librarian, one of my biggest jobs is to encourage parents to read to their kids, as well as encouraging kids and teens to come to the library, not only to use the facilities for homework but also reading for pleasure. So it is sad for me to see books being taken away from kids, especially if the child is a reluctant reader. Young Adult (YA) and Children’s books are usually the biggest targets for Book Banning/Censorship.  I liked the way that YA author Laurie Halse Anderson put it: “Books don’t turn kids into murderers, or rapists, or alcoholics; Books open hearts and minds, and help teenagers make sense of a dark and confusing world. YA literature saves lives. Every. Single. Day.” As the article where I found that quote says about censorship and in particular Young Adult Literature, “The reality is that censorship is still a problem in this country, and most of the victims are kids. Sometimes books are literally taken out of their hands…YA literature would deserve defending even it helped only a handful of kids. But YA authors like Anderson, Alexie, Crutcher, Lauren Myracle, Lois Lowry, Robert Cormier, and Judy Blume receive thousands of letters from grateful teens every year.”

This year the focus is on YA Literature (books specifically created for kids ages 11 or 12 – 18), and this is a list of books from the American Library Association or ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom for the most frequently challenged books of 2014-15:

  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
  • Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi (Pantheon Books/Knopf Doubleday)
  • The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison (Holt, Rinehart, and Winston)
  • The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini (Bloomsbury Publishing)
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky (MTV Books/Simon & Schuster)
  • Drama, by Raina Telgemeier (Graphix/Scholastic)
  • Chinese Handcuffs, by Chris Crutcher (Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins)
  • The Giver, by Lois Lowry (HMH Books for Young Readers)
  • The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros (Vintage/Knopf Doubleday)
  • Looking for Alaska, by John Green (Dutton Books/Penguin Random House)

Here is another booklist of Frequently Challenged or Banned Books from May 2014-March 2015. I was really shocked to find Dr. Seuss books on this list, as well as nearly all of John Green’s books. If you are interested in learning more about fighting censorship, check out the Freedom to Read website, one of the long-time sponsors of BBW.

Sept 2015 Book Reviews

Ok, I will be the first to admit that my blog posting has been slowing down a lot lately, mostly due to a combination of tiredness, being bored with it, and not having any fresh idea for posts. My reading and reviewing have been even slower. I finished my last group of ARC (Advanced Reader’s Copies) at the beginning of Sept and am just starting the group that comes out in November.  Most of the November ARC books come out the first few days of the month, so I’m trying to read the books and write the reviews now so they’re out of the way. I am currently reading an ARC called The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild. The description was interesting, but the main human character’s story is a bit boring and I’m hoping it gets to the painting’s history soon as that seemed more engaging. I was reading A Breath of Snow and Ashes (Outlander #6) by Diana Gabaldon, but since I own that book, it will be on the back burner until I can finish and write the review for the Rothschild book (even though I’m not allowed to post it until November). I’m finishing up Kara Cooney’s audiobook version of The Woman Who Would be King: Hatshepsut’s Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt, which has been a fascinating read and the perfect setup for the class I will soon be starting on Ancient Near Eastern History.

I think this may be the last large book review I do for awhile. I’m getting kind of bored with them. I’ll probably still do the large children’s reviews because I tend to read so many of them and I like sharing the pictures. I think I might do more individual book posts, whatever I’m reading, including ARCs. And I like posting about my Kids Cafe Art Lectures, even if I don’t do them anymore. As always, I rate my reviews on a scale of 1 – 5, with 1 being the lowest, and I post pics of children’s book illustrations that I like.

Children

Shape by Shape written and illustrated by Suse Howard

I picked this book as part of my Toddler Dinosaur Storytime and it was perfect for it. I love cut-out books and this had cut-outs, shapes and a dinosaur, so what kid isn’t going to love it. I got the kids to identify the shapes as we went along. Recommended for ages 2-5, 3 stars.

Beautiful Birds written by Jean Roussen, illustrated by Emmanuelle Walker

Beautiful Birds

This book is simply gorgeous with fabulous illustrations. It’s hard to believe it’s an ABC book. I like the the authors picked out-of-the-ordinary birds to introduce kids to new kinds, like “X is for xanthocephalus,” and “L is for Lyrebird”. It’s even cooler because the whole thing is voiced by a peacock, who proclaims himself “the most beautiful bird.” The front end pages features different kinds of eggs and the back has the eggs hatched with their corresponding baby birds. Highly recommended for ages 2-5, 5 stars.

I am Going! written and illustrated by Mo Willems

Piggie interrupts her play with Gerald to say that she is going, which of course sets Gerald off. He is devasted that she wants to leave, for who will he skip, play ping-pong and wear silly hats with? Piggie assures him that she is going to lunch, not leaving forever. Recommended for ages 3-6, 3 stars.

Can I Play Too? written and illustrated by Mo Willems

Can I play Too

My son just adored this book! Elephant and Piggie are about to play catch together when a little snake comes up and asks to join them. They are unsure of how this would work, but they will try. They start throwing the ball to him, but it keeps bonking him in the head. My son would giggle every time the poor snake got bonked. After many attempts, they decide to play catch a different way. Recommended for ages 3-6, 4 stars.

If You Plant a Seed written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson

If you plant a seed

My son has decided that he really likes this book and has asked to read a bunch. It’s about gardening, the benefits of being patient and kind and the pitfalls of selfishness. It stars a bunny and mouse who have decided to plant some seeds. They wait patiently and in time have a tomato, carrot and cabbage plant. Some curious birds want some of their food, and at first they refuse, a fight breaks out and all of their food is destroyed. Then the mouse does an act of kindness and their whole world is turned around. I absolutely adore the simple story and the gorgeous painted illustrations by the fabulous Kadir Nelson. Seriously, this man can do no wrong in my book. Recommended for ages 3-6, 5 stars.

Ewe and Aye written by Candace Ryan, illustrated by Stephanie Ruble

A co-worker introduced me to this book and I thought it was cute enough to bring home to my son. Ewe (a female sheep) and Aye (a male lemur, I think) are friends. They both dream of flying but Ewe wants to do it with wheels and Aye with wings. Neither of them can achieve their goals individually, so they work together to accomplish them. Recommended for ages 2-5, 3 stars.

The Boy and the Airplane written and illustrated by Mark Pett

A co-worker introduced me to this book and I liked it, so I brought it home for my son. A wordless picture book about (surprise) a boy and his toy airplane, but one that my son could easily tell me the story. The boy is so excited to get a new toy airplane that when he finally lets it fly for real, it immediately lands on the roof where he can’t reach it. So he plants a seed and waits for it to grow into a tree, so he can get it down. When it finally does grow high enough and he gets it back, he is an old man, so he gives it to someone who can better appreciate it. Recommended for ages 3-6, 4 stars.

The Big Princess written and illustrated by Taro Miura

The Big Princess

My son and I have been waiting awhile for this book to come out, after completely falling in love with The Tiny King. This second book in the series tells the story about the Tiny King’s wife, the Big Princess, and how she came to be so tall. A King and his wife had a beautiful garden and yearned for children. One night, the King had a dream and a white bird came to him in the dream and told him that he would get a baby princess but she would come with a terrible curse that had the potential to crumble his kingdom. The next day, the Kind and Queen found a tiny princess smaller than a flower in their garden. They devised a tiny bed made out of a feather for her, but every morning the princess would outgrow it. She kept on growing and growing until they had to put her in the tower and it was then that King finally broke the spell and saved the kingdom. I love the illustrations for this series, as they are bold and colorful, but simple. Recommended for ages 4-7, 5 stars.

Sam & Dave Dig a Hole written by Mac Barnett, illustrated by John Klassen

This book has a cute premise, but I think Barnett and Klassen have done funnier/better books together. This one won a 2015 Caldecott Honor. Sam and Dave decide to dig a hole with their dog, looking for buried treasure. The only problem is they are always so close to it, but never quite reach it. And then they dig down so far, they end up on the other side of the world or another dimension. Recommended for ages 4-7, 3 stars.

Dear Tyrannosaurus Rex written by Lisa McClatchy, illustrated by John Manders

Another book I picked for Toddler Dinosaur Storytime, which didn’t work as well as I would’ve liked mostly because it dragged a lot. But it had an adorable premise. A little girl desperately wants a T-Rex to come to her birthday and writes him a letter saying all the stuff they will do together at her party. She gets her wish in the end. Recommended for ages 4-7, 3 stars.

Oliver written and illustrated by Birgitta Sif

Oliver

I adored this story of a little boy who is perfectly content playing by himself and making his own imaginary friends. Who doesn’t love a kid with a great imagination? One day he meets another little girl who does the same thing. They become the best of friends. He has found someone who completes him. I loved the quirky illustrations that went with this book, which really told the story, as the written storytelling left a bit to be desired. Recommended for ages 4-7, 4 stars.

A Bean, A Stalk, and a Boy Named Jack written and illustrated by William Joyce and Kenny Callicutt

How can I not love this story?! It was created by William Joyce, one of the most imaginative and brilliant children’s writers and illustrators out there, plus Kenny Callicutt, an art graduate of my undergraduate alma mater, VCU. It is a clever take on the Jack and the Beanstalk story involving a young boy, a talking bean, a wizard, a massive drought and one stinky pinky. Check it out for the full story! It has great illustrations and a cute story. Recommended for ages 4-7, 4 stars.

Children and Young Adult

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate

Young Adult

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

Adult

Come Hell or Highball (Discreet Retrieval Agency #1) by Maia Chance

Ophelia’s Muse by Rita Cameron

The Scottish Prisoner (Lord John Grey #3) by Diana Gabaldon, narrated by Jeff Woodman and Rick Holmes

This book was narrated back and forth between Lord John and Jaime Fraser, and their adventures together in Ireland. It is fourteen years after the Battle of Culloden, and Jamie has been working as a horse groom at Helwater House in England for the past three years. He is trying to avoid another attempt to re-instate the Stuart monarchy in England and organized by Jamie’s associate Quinn (an Irishman who was close to Prince Charles Stuart when Jamie and Claire were helping the cause previously in Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander #2)). Lord John is trying to court marshall an officer in the army, Major George Siverly, who was accused of foul play by Charlie Carruthers, his friend who had died in Canada in the previous book, The Custom of the Army. Will Jamie and Lord John be able to stop the new Jacobite rebellion and figure out  5 stars.

The audiobook had great readers and I liked that they used two different people for the story, to complement the different narratives. I’m not sure why they can’t actually get a Scottish person to do the accent though. I honestly loved this book because it really gave you a glimpse into Jamie’s back story, especially his time at Helwater, his relationship with William, and how much he really missed Claire during the twenty years they were separated between Outlander books two and three. This information is hinted in other Lord John Grey and Outlander books but not implicitly stated. His story was really the main purpose of the book, as the title suggests, and Lord John is placed a bit on the back burner. Not to say that Lord John doesn’t have some fun times, i.e. finally hooking up with Stephan Van Namtzen! It’s about bloody time. They’ve been flirting with each other for the whole series so far, but nothing had really come of it minus a few kisses. Plus I loved that Stephan got Lord John a daschund to match his own. I never knew that daschund means “boar hound” and that’s what they were originally bred for doing. The author is not shy about sex, as the reader might have noticed from previous John Grey and Outlander books. I mean the first sentences in the book are about Jamie getting off after dreaming of Claire, not to mention the whole scene with Stephan and Lord John. I was intrigued to learn about Minnie, Lord John’s sister-in-law, and her father’s spy business in Paris and that she knew Jamie from when he and Claire were living there.

The Big Book of Slow Cooker, Casseroles & More by Betty Crocker

I love using my slow cooker but never really use it, so this seemed as good a place as any to look for some recipes. My mom always used her Betty Crocker classic cookbook when I was going up, so knew they would have some decent recipes. I made the Korean Beef and the Cheesy Tater-Topped Chicken Casserole, which were both okay but not sure I would make them again. I would like to try Jambalaya, Mediterranean Minestrone Casserole, Caramelized Onion Pot Roast (which used the slow cooker), and the Cheesy Gnocchi Florentine and Triple Ginger Pound Cake (which used the oven) in the future. 3 stars.

Wolf by Wolf

Wolf by Wolf

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

To be published: Oct 6, 2015

Yael was a six-year-old girl when she was sent to a concentration camp with her mother. A Dr. Mengele like figure takes her to be part of his experiments, and she gains the ability to change her face into any other female she sees. She uses this ability to escape the camp and eventually joins up with the Resistance. The book is set in 1956 in an alternative universe where Germany and Japan won WWII and the Reich stretches pretty much all over the globe. Every year in celebration of their victory and the power of the two countries, they have a motorcycle race from Germany to Japan with their twenty strongest competitors. The Resistance has recruited her to become Adele Wolfe, the female victor of last year’s race, who got a dance with Adolf Hitler. She plans to assassinate Hitler and start up a revolution against the Reich. But this is no ordinary race and Yael has to deal with not only Adele’s twin brother Felix who joined the race at the last minute, but also a host of young men who are out for blood, and a possible romantic connection with another of the racers named Luka. You just have to read this amazing story! Highly recommended for ages 15+, 5 stars.

I couldn’t put this book down because it had a very interesting concept. I mean tons of people do alternative history, especially what would have happened if the Germans won World War II, but this has that little twist in Yael’s character is just so original. On one hand, she’s bad-ass skin-changer who can fight and hold her own in an almost all-male incredibly aggressive motorcycle race. On the the other hand, she is so incredibly fragile and completely alone in the world (although no one can see this part of her). The wolf tattoo stories are incredibly fascinating and helped create a fuller richer glimpse at her life and how she became the person she is now. I thought it was also one hell of a creative way to cover up a Holocaust tattoo as well. One of the annoying parts of the book for me was the gratuitous use of the word “Scheisse,” which I know because my mother, who never curses, uses this one swear word in German after being stationed there in the Air Force when I was born. The ending was a bit of a surprise as the author managed to keep it secret to the very end, but set the stage perfectly for the follow-up book which doesn’t come out until Fall 2016. I will definitely be looking out for the next book in the series!

Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

Kids Cafe Art Lectures: Leonardo Da Vinci

Only two weeks till my Tween Book Club (Page Turners) meets for the first time! I have finished my re-read of Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins and enjoyed the quick read, though it really makes me want to re-read the whole series as the first book was so short. I’ve done my best to promote it, giving out the flyers to an entire school of 4th-8th graders, a homeschool writers group, posting the flyer in the Children’s area, and telling any kid I think is around that age about it. We shall see soon.

I’ve not been doing a whole lot of these kind (i.e. art lecture) of Kids Cafe because of the new system they want us to use (kids have to kill out membership forms once, but with our kid population being a bit odd -we don’t have a steady population since we’re the big downtown branch, we can have up to 15 new kids a time). It is useful I guess for statistical purposes, but is annoying because it takes so long to fill out the forms that by the time they hand them in and get their food, half the time has gone. Anyways, on to this week’s topic, Leonardo Da Vinci. I have been fascinated by Da Vinci ever since I took a class on Renaissance art while I was doing a study abroad there and got the opportunity to see the Da Vinci museum in Vinci (outside of Florence) and see some of his inventions, along with his beautiful original works in Florence and Rome. He was a genius in art, science, architecture and many other fields, so it was fun to share his genius with others. This is one of the best presentations in my opinion. It was rather hard to squish Leonardo’s life into eighteen slides, but I think the kids/adults got a good understanding of the man. I found out about his inventing robots after I did a DiscoveryTime (storytime + science for 3-5 yr olds) on the subject. I had a lot of fun with the activity, though it wasn’t my original choice.

Leonardo Da Vinci

Leonardo Da Vinci

  • Biography
    • Born April 15, 1452
    • Leonardo was part of the Italian Renaissance, which lasted from about 1330-1550. Leonardo is referred to as a “Renaissance Man,” not because he lived through the period, but because he was good at everything.
    • Da Vinci refers to the place of his birth, the town of Vinci outside of Florence, Italy
    • Italy Region Map
  • Early Art Career
    • At age 14, Leonardo is apprenticed to the artist Andrea del Verrocchio (an important Renaissance artist in Florence, whose patrons were the ruling family, the Medici’s) , which is how he improved his drawing and learned how to paint and sculpt
      • Verocchio – The Baptism of Christ, 1472-75
    • Verrocchio - The Baptism of Christ, 1472-75
      • Verocchio – David, c. 1475
      • Verrocchio - David, c. 1475
      • First work attributed to Leonardo – The Annunciation, 1472-75
      • Leonardo - The Annunciation, 1472-75
  • Famous Paintings
    • His most famous paintings are the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. Only 15 of his paintings remain. He was very famous and known for his paintings while he was still alive.
    • The Mona Lisa is perhaps the most well-known painting in the world. It is believed that Leonardo da Vinci began painting the Mona Lisa around 1503. It is also known as “La Gioconda”, the last name of the woman who is believed to be the subject of the painting.
      • It has been on permanent display at the Louvre Museum in Paris for over 200 years. Because of numerous thefts and attempts at defacing the painting, it has been put under bulletproof glass.
      • Researchers at the University of Amsterdam and the University of Illinois used face-recognition software to determine that the Mona Lisa is “83% happy, 9% disgusted, 6% fearful, and 2% angry.”
      • Mona Lisa, 1504-19
      • Mona Lisa - large
  • Mona Lisa Parodies
      • A parody is an imitation of the style of a particular writer, artist, or genre with deliberate exaggeration
      • Squidward Mona Lisa Miss Piggy as Mona Lisa Minecraft Mona Lisa
  • Leonardo’s Time in Milan (1482-99)
    • The Last Supper is a frescoed painting located in the dining room of a church/convent in Milan, Italy called Santa Maria delle Grazie (Holy Mary of Grace) and is huge (15 x 29 ft)
    • Painted while Leonardo was under the patronage of Duke Ludivico Sforza of Milan
    • His version of this painting was the first to depict real people acting like real people and was the best example of one-point perspective – everything radiates from the head of Jesus.
    • Instead of using tempera paint on wet plaster (the preferred method of fresco painting), Leonardo thought he’d use dry plaster. His experiment resulted in a more varied palette, but this method wasn’t at all durable. The painted plaster began to flake off the wall almost immediately, and people have been attempting to restore it ever since. Last restoration was in 1999.
    • Leonardo’s The Last Supper, 1495-98
    • The Last Supper, c. 1495-98
    • Giampetrino’s The Last Supper, copy of the original from 1520
    • Giampietrino - The Last Supper, c 1520
  • Leonardo’s Notebooks (1482-1519)
    • Leonardo was also an architect, writer, natural/biological scientist, cartographer, and mathematician. He is famous for his notebooks where he kept over 13,000 pages of notes and drawings, which were both art and science-related. In fact, he was the first one to explain in the year 1500 why the sky was blue.
    • The notebooks are written in mirror-image cursive with his left hand (i.e. backwards and right to left). And he was ambidextrous – could write with both hands
    • His conceptual drawings included plans for musical instruments, war machines, calculators, submarine, an automobile driven by springs, multi-barreled missiles (machine guns) and many more ideas. Many of these plans were limited by the level of technology at the time.
    • He was interested in civil engineering projects and designed a single span bridge, a way to divert the Arno River, and moveable barricades which would help protect a city in the case of attack.
    • Leonardo’s Inventions: Robots, Tank, and Single-Span Bridge
      • Robots
      • Tank
      • Single Span Bridge
    • Inventions: The Orinthopter
      • He was particularly interested in flight and studied birds to understand how they flew. The Orinthopter was a human-powered flying machine but he also created a design for a helicopter.

      • Orinthopter outline
      • Orinthopter, c 1490
      • Orinthopter
    • Understanding Human Anatomy
      • He became an expert in the anatomy of the human body, studying it in detail and creating hundreds of drawings to help explain his thoughts. Leonardo didn’t just study the human anatomy either. He also had a strong interest in horses as well as cows, frogs, monkeys, and other animals.
      • Anatomical study of the arm, c. 1510
      • The Lungs
    • Animal Studies
      • cats
      • Studies of Crabs
  • Sforza Horse Sculpture
    • In 1482, Duke Ludivico Sforza (Leonardo’s patron in Milan) challenged him to build the world’s largest equestrian bronze statue in honor of Ludivico’s father Francesco
    • Leonardo did a multitude of sketches for the sculpture, and he created a clay model of the horse in 1493, but it was never cast
    • It wasn’t until after Leonardo’s notebooks were re-discovered, and a wealthy American took on the project in 1977, that the sculpture was finally created in 1999.
    • It was installed in Milan (with a copy in Michigan) – it weighed 15 tons (33,069 lbs) and is 25 ft tall [you can see the scale to a human in the bottom picture]
    •  Sketches for Cavallo dello Sforza
    • Studies for an equestrian monument
    • American Horse, 2006
  • Codex Leicester (1506-13)
  • Activity: Invisible Ink using Lemon Juice
    • Let’s Be a Spy and Leave a Secret Message
    • Here’s a simple explanation of this
      • Send a secret message to a friend using invisible ink

        Small glass of lemon juice or milk
        Q-tip
        Piece of white paper
        Blow-dryer or light bulb

        Dip the end of the Q-tip into the lemon juice or milk, and use it to write a secret message on the piece of paper.

        Let dry completely. Your message should be invisible.

        To decode your message, heat the piece of paper by carefully blow-drying it (or holding it near a warm light bulb).

        As the paper heats up, your message will appear yellow or brown. That’s because milk and lemon juice are acidic and weaken the paper, Anderson says in her book. “When the heat source is put near the paper, the weaker part begins to brown before the rest of the paper does.”

Those We Left Behind

Those We Left Behind

Those We Left Behind (DCI Serena Flanagan #1) by Stuart Neville

To be published: Sept 22, 2015

Ciaran Devine was convicted at age twelve of savagely murdering his foster father. He confessed soon after being captured by the police. His brother Thomas, who was also covered in blood, was found at the scene of the crime. DCI (Detective Chief Inspector) Serena Flanagan was the only person Ciaran would talk to, but she always doubted his quick confession. It is seven years later and Serena Flanagan has just returned to the police force after battling breast cancer, and everyone wonders if she can still do her job. The Devine case of the Schoolboy Killer is about to come back to haunt her.  Ciaran is being released from the juvenile detention center to a hostel, where he will live with other recently released juvenile offenders. He is excited to get out and see Thomas again. Daniel, the son of the murdered man, has had his life completely turned upside down by the brothers, by Ciaran, who murdered his father, and by Thomas, who alleged that he was being sexually abused by his foster father. Will Serena be able to figure out who actually committed the murders? To find out, read this exciting book. 4 stars.

This was one of those “Read Now” books on Netgalley, and I picked it because it was a story about a child involved in a brutal murder, and I always find those fascinating (yes I know that’s a little morbid, but true crime from a psychological viewpoint is always thrilling for me). The last thriller I read was well-written, but ended too abruptly. This one was about 1000% times better, although I did have nightmares about stabbing people while I was reading this book. The author was really good at keeping the reader in suspense about who the true killer was and why he did it, and I was left guessing until the end. I love a book that will keep you on your toes like that. I thought it was interesting that the author included the son of the foster father as a major character, though he was a disaster waiting to happen. I was a little uncomfortable with Serena and Ciaran’s relationship, as well as that of Ciaran and his brother Thomas, but I guess that was part of the point.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publishers Soho Crime on Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

Kids Cafe Art Lectures: Mosaics

It was nice to have a little downtime after the busyness of summer, but now we’re starting up Fall programs. I am presenting my first Tween Book Club on Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins on the 24th and I still need to re-read it. But now I have co-worker to help me out, so that should make it a lot easier. I just hope I get some kids to show up for the program. It’s been posted in the Children’s Area for about a week, and I dropped off a bunch of flyers yesterday at an elementary/middle school, and I’m hoping to catch the homeschool group this week to give them some flyers (we have a writing group that meets in our Makerspace once a week). I’m still assigned to DiscoveryTimes (basically Preschool storytime + Science or STEM), so those should be getting a bit easier. I say this because I hadn’t done these storytimes since November 2014 before I started again 3 weeks ago, and it is slightly different than ToddlerTime in that there is more planning and you usually do an activity/experiment during the storytime or I like to make up a Take-Home sheet so they can continue the lesson at home.

Anyways, on to Kids Cafe. I rather enjoyed doing this lecture as it taught me some stuff I didn’t know,  like the differences between Greek and Roman mosaics. Plus the Roman mosaics are so detailed that it really does look like a painting. The thing I loved most about this lecture was the art project, which I had a lot of fun with, though it was a lot harder to do than I thought it would be. I originally wanted to do bean mosaics, but we didn’t have any at work and I didn’t want to use dried pasta as we only had mini penne and farfalle. So I came up with using pony beads, the largish beads that are easier for little kids to grab, and white posterboard circles that I had leftover from last summer’s summer reading theme (space). The only problem with this was that you had to completely make sure the glue had dried or the beads would fall off.

KC Mosaics – April 24

Paper Sea Mosaic

Paper Sea Mosaic

  • What is a mosaic?
    • A mosaic is a picture or pattern produced by arranging together small colored pieces of hard material, such as stone, tile, or glass.
    • Mosaic Rock
    • Garden Mushrooms Mosaics
  • Early Beginnings of Mosaics
    • Artists have been creating mosaics since around 700 BCE (for over 2700 years). In the beginning, they used different colored stones to create patterns,
    • It was the Greeks, in 300 BCE, who raised the pebble technique to an art form, with precise geometric patterns and detailed scenes of people and animals.
    • Ex. Lion Hunt Greek Pebble Mosaic – 300 BCE
    • Lion Hunt Greek Pebble Mosaic, 300 BCE
  • Roman Mosaics (200 BCE – 450 CE)
    • By 200 BCE, specially manufactured pieces (“tesserae”) were being used to give extra detail and range of color to the work. Using small tesserae, this meant that mosaics could imitate paintings. Many of the mosaics preserved at Pompeii were the work of Greek artists.
    • Ex. Alexander mosaic from Pompeii – Alexander and Darius at Battle of Issus, Pompeii – 100 BCE
    • Alexander and Darius at Battle of Issus, Pompeii - 100 BCE
    • Ex. Close-up of Alexander Mosaic
    • Battle of Alexander mosaic from Pompeii
  • Roman Britain (43-409 CE)
    • The expansion of the Roman Empire took mosaics further afield, although the level of skill and artistry was diluted. If you compare mosaics from Roman Britain with Italian ones you will notice that the British examples are simpler in design and less accomplished in technique.
    • Ex. Roman Townhouse Mosaic in Dorset, England. c. 300
    • Roman Britain townhousefloor
    • Ex. Detail of Stones Used
    • tesserae detail of townhouse floor
  • Byzantine Empire (400-1453 CE)
    • With the rise of the Byzantine Empire from the 5th century onwards, centered on Byzantium (now Istanbul, Turkey), the art form took on new characteristics. These included Eastern influences in and gold or silver leaf on top.
    • Ex. Virgin and Child with Justinian I and Constantine I at Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey – c. 900s
    • Mosaïques de l'entrée sud-ouest de Sainte-Sophie (Istanbul, Turquie)
    • Christ Enthroned at Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy – c. 500s
    • Basilica of San Vitale - Christ Enthroned, 547 CE
  • Islamic Influences in Spain (711-1492 CE)
    • In the west of Europe, the Moors brought Islamic mosaic and tile art into the Iberian Peninsula in the 8th century. It was not pictorial, but was very geometric.
    • Ex. Tile mosaics from Alhambra Palace, Granada, Spain – 1400
    • Islamic Tile Mosaic at Alhambra Palace - Granada, Spain - 1400s CE      Islamic Tile mosaic at Alhambra Palace - Granada, Spain
  • Decline in Europe but revival in Mesoamerica
    • Mosaics went into decline in the Middle Ages in Europe
    • Mesoamerican (Mexico and some of Central America) art used mosaics, especially the Aztecs (c. 1195-1522 CE)
    • Ex. Double Headed Serpent (Quetzalcoatl) chest decoration, Aztec – 1400s
    • Aztec Double headed mosaic Serpent chestpiece - 15-16th centuries AD
  • 19th Century Revival
    • Mosaics had a major revival in 19th Century, esp in public spaces and cathedrals like Westminster Abbey in London and Sacre Coeur, Paris.
    • Pulpit in Westminster Cathedral, London – 1800s
    • Pulpit in Westminster Cathedral - 19th Century
    • Close-up of Pulpit Column
    • Closeup of pulpit
  • Art Noveau (1884-1910)
    • The Art Nouveau movement also embraced mosaic art. From 1900-1914, in Barcelona, Spain, Antoni Gaudi helped produce the stunning ceramic mosaics of Guell Park
    • Guell Park Benches, 1900-14
    • Antonio Gaudi - Guell Park benches,
    • Material taken from: http://www.thejoyofshards.co.uk/history/
  • Modern Mosaics
  • Activity: Bead Mosaics
    • This was harder than I thought it would be mostly because the beads were round and it’s hard to make geometric-style patterns, aka copies of the ones from Alhambra Palace, because they are meant for point-edged tesserae
    • Islamic Tile Mosaic at Alhambra Palace - Granada, Spain - 1400s CE   –> I used this one as the basic design of my mosaic, but again, hard to completely duplicate due to round nature of beads
    • Bead Mosaic example