Staff Picks: Stand Up, Yumi Chung!

Reviewed by Cidne B., Information Assistant

Integrity

Yumi Chung would really like to be doing stand up comedy like her Youtube hero, Jasmine Jaspar. But being the youngest daughter of Korean immigrants, and incredibly shy, this seems like a silly dream. Then one day, after her summer SSAT prep classes, she discovers a comedy camp everything changes; a case of mistaken identity gives her the chance to be someone else and to get a taste of her dream! 

Stand Up, Yumi Chung! by Jessica Kim is a relatable, engaging middle grade novel that deals with the themes of familial responsibility, identity, integrity, friendship, and bravery. Appropriate for ages 9+

This is review is part of the Finding Value series, inspired by the eleven core values central to the Library's mission. Tune in as Library staff review books and movies that highlight the values accessibility, civil discourse, inclusiveness, integrity, intellectual freedom, lifelong learning, literacy, respect, safety, service, and stewardship.

Join the Big Library Read, the World’s Largest Digital Book Club

Big Library Read, August 3 - August 17, 2020

The historical fiction thriller, The Darwin Affair by Tim Mason, is the 22nd selection of Big Library Read. From August 3–17 readers can borrow and read this “intellectually stimulating and viscerally exciting” eBook through OverDrive and the Libby app. Solve the mystery from home with your library card and no waiting, then discuss the book online!

A historical fiction novel, The Darwin Affair takes place in London during June 1860. When an assassination attempt is made on Queen Victoria, and a petty thief is gruesomely murdered moments later, Detective Inspector Charles Field quickly surmises that these crimes are connected to an even more sinister plot. Soon, Field’s investigation exposes a shocking conspiracy in which the publication of Charles Darwin’s controversial On the Origin of Species sets off a string of murders, arson, kidnapping, and the pursuit of a madman named the Chorister. As he edges closer to the Chorister, Field uncovers dark secrets that were meant to remain forever hidden. Tim Mason has created a rousing page-turner that both Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would relish and envy.

Big Library Read is available in over 22,000 libraries around the world, including more than 90 percent of public libraries in North America. Connecting readers around the world, Big Library Read began in 2013 and takes place tri-annually. The program is facilitated by OverDrive, the leading digital reading platform for popular eBooks, audiobooks, and magazines.

The Darwin Affair was published by Algonquin Books and can be read on all major computers and devices through Libby or libbyapp.com, including iPhone®, iPad®, Android™ phones and tablets, and Chromebook™ without waitlists or holds. Through Libby, readers can also “send to Kindle®”. The title will automatically expire at the end of the lending period, and there are no late fees.

To join the discussion, learn about past Big Library Read titles, and download Libby, visit Big Library Read's website! Learn more about how to use OverDrive with your library card

Quaranzine, Vol. 3

Quaranzine Vol. 3

Welcome to the third issue of the Library's community Quaranzine!

There are two different versions––one is for reading on a screen, and the other has been imposed so it can be printed at home, folded, stapled, and read in that fashion. Select short-side binding on most printers to print correctly.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this zine. Please consider contributing to the next issue, coming September 1!

This is the third publication during the era of COVID-19, and each time these zines, and the spirit of our Bloomington community, keeps getting stronger. With projects like this one, you connect with one another, get a glimpse of how others are truly feeling and thinking, and embark on a larger project together—to publish and create art. Thank you, truly, for all that continue to contribute to this project, those who are newly contributing, and for those who read it. We thank you, we care about you, and you are appreciated.

Being in quarantine for the past three months has been a struggle for every person, albeit in many different ways. While some may be sitting with the peace and reflective time with resolve, some may be bored and aching for physical collaborative life again, and some are struggling with very real issues of housing, food, and education. During this time, it is imperative to check in with your community members and help when it is possible, in whatever ways you can. A simple phone call to check in with a friend may be the difference between them having a hard mental health day and them finding some hope. Conversely, if you are struggling, don’t be afraid to reach out. Friends and family can be a great outlet for help, and may have positive isolation ideas, although there are many resources via telephone, online, or through the Library to help find community elsewhere. We are all in this together.

Per usual, this zine continues to be created as a collaboration between people who express their creativity in different ways, be that through poetry, drawing or painting, digital art, or collaging. Please consider contributing to our next Quaranzine! We love this project and will continue to make zines through this time of isolation and COVID-19. We are accepting new submissions for the next Quaranzine through August 29.

For ideas on other zines to check out, please browse mcpl.info/zines. In this blog, we highlight different zine archives that do a great job of keeping up with updated and pertinent digital zines.

Thank you to all that contributed to this project, or that are taking the time to read our zine! We can’t wait to “see” you again next month.

call_for_submissions_vol_4_facebook.png

Want to contribute to the next volume?

Send your art and thoughts in the form of an 8.5” x 5.5” page of words or images, a photograph or an image, or about 250 words about something. Recipes, pictures, fun projects, and more––all ideas that highlight the community and uplift voices are encouraged and welcome!

Please reach out to quaranzine [at] mcpl.info with any questions or entries. Submissions for the fourth volume will be accepted through August 29. Submissions will be compiled and posted to this site by early September.

Staff Picks: Law and Order

Law and Order Documentary Cover

Reviewed by Craig C., Senior Materials Handler

Law and Order, a documentary directed by Frederick Wiseman, is available to stream with Kanopy.

SafetyWith protests about police violence continuing nationwide and calls for defunding and reform, it’s instructive to watch the 1969 documentary Law and Order. Filmed on the streets and in the precincts of Kansas City, Missouri’s police department, Frederick Wiseman’s film follows rank-and-file patrolmen as they respond to reports of domestic violence, theft, public drunkenness, a hit and run with a stolen car, vagrancy, prostitution, creating a public disturbance, an abandoned child, truancy, and a custody dispute.

In a few cases, the arresting officers use force that could be considered excessive, including putting a woman in a choke hold and telling her “Go on, resist.” There’s also a discussion of terminology to use with the public at a morning roll call which doesn’t quite sink in for one of the officers who feels singled out. The moment that sticks out most, though, is the casual discussion between two patrolmen in their cars about using tear gas during the recent protests. One even regrets not being able to throw his, an astonishing confession considering they’re both well aware they’re being filmed. In light of what we’re seeing now thanks to the proliferation of cell phone cameras, it’s clear the more some things change, the more they stay the same.

This is review is part of the Finding Value series, inspired by the eleven core values central to the Library's mission. Tune in as Library staff review books and movies that highlight the values accessibility, civil discourse, inclusiveness, integrity, intellectual freedom, lifelong learning, literacy, respect, safety, service, and stewardship. 

Staff Picks: Consent (for kids!)

In this 60 Second Review, Librarian Kim shares the graphic novel Consent (for Kids!) : Boundaries, Respect, and Being in Charge of You by Rachel Brian. It's also available as an ebook through CloudLibrary! For more video reviews subscribe to our YouTube Channel and check the Finding Value: 60 Second Reviews playlist

This review is part of the Finding Value series, inspired by the eleven core values central to our mission. Tune in as Library staff review books and movies that highlight the values accessibility, civil discourse, inclusiveness, integrity, intellectual freedom, lifelong learning, literacy, respect, safety, service, and stewardship. 

Staff Picks: Monkey and Me

In this 60 Second Review, Librarian Ginny shares the picture book Monkey and Me by Emily Gravett and talks about how it connects with early literacy themes. For more video reviews subscribe to our YouTube Channel and check the Finding Value: 60 Second Reviews playlist

This review is part of the Finding Value series, inspired by the eleven core values central to our mission. Tune in as Library staff review books and movies that highlight the values accessibility, civil discourse, inclusiveness, integrity, intellectual freedom, lifelong learning, literacy, respect, safety, service, and stewardship. 

Staff Picks: Race to the Sun

In this 60 Second Review, Librarian Ginny shares the book Race to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse. This inclusive chapter book is also available as an ebook through CloudLibrary and Hoopla! For more video reviews subscribe to our YouTube Channel and check the Finding Value: 60 Second Reviews playlist

This review is part of the Finding Value series, inspired by the eleven core values central to our mission. Tune in as Library staff review books and movies that highlight the values accessibility, civil discourse, inclusiveness, integrity, intellectual freedom, lifelong learning, literacy, respect, safety, service, and stewardship. 

Staff Picks: Right Now, Wrong Then

Reviewed by Dean M., Materials Handler

Right Now, Wrong Then directed by Hong Sang-Soo is also available to stream on Hoopla.

Integrity

This autobiographically inspired story is about a Korean film director, Han Chun-su, who meets Hee-jung, a young painter, while on a business trip. He arrives a day ahead of schedule and has time to waste as he walks around and looks at buildings and structures. The two characters meet randomly at a temple-like structure and agree to have coffee, talk about life, art and other things. Hee-jung says she knows about the Han's work and that she enjoys his films. Hee-jung allows Han to follow her around the city and they grow fonder of each other as the film moves on.

The film is shot in two parts. The first part is what is "wrong", and the second part is what is "right". It is essentially the same story told twice, but with subtle yet profound variations in each part. This works somewhat like a butterfly effect for how each of the two parallel parts end. For example, in part one Han fails to admit that he is married until the end of the night. This leads the Hee-jung to completely reject the romantic feelings that were building, obviously. In part two, Han discloses that he is married earlier on in the narrative, causing the two characters to have a nice ending to their adventures. 

In the second part of the film, Han values moral integrity by being honest with the Hee-jung. The value of integrity and honesty is a major difference between the second and first parts. This film shows how it can be beneficial to have moral integrity as a value and to practice it. Right Now, Wrong Then was directed by Hong Sang-Soo, a Korean filmmaker who often writes his screenplays autobiographically. He is a professor of film and his film crews consist largely of pupils who are more willing to help than to get reimbursed. The Library owns several of Sang-Soo's other films, which are also recommended.

This is review is part of the Finding Value series, inspired by the eleven core values central to the Library's mission. Tune in as Library staff review books and movies that highlight the values accessibility, civil discourse, inclusiveness, integrity, intellectual freedom, lifelong learning, literacy, respect, safety, service, and stewardship.

Staff Picks: The Haunting of Hill House

Reviewed by Anna M., Materials Handler

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson is also available as a CloudLibrary ebook.

Lifelong Learning

The Haunting of Hill House, written by Shirley Jackson in 1959, is one of the most critically acclaimed haunted house stories. I first read the novel during my freshman year of college for an English course, and it quickly became my favorite book of all time. Searching through CloudLibrary, I was excited to see that Jackson’s debut novel was available. Rereading The Haunting of Hill House has given me a newfound appreciation and perspective for the story, and I hope others will take advantage of the library’s online resources and read Jackson’s novel.

Exploring the misadventures of four strangers who come together at the notoriously haunted Hill House, The Haunting of Hill House delves deep into human relationships and how fear influences the mind. Dr. Montague, an anthropologist who is fascinated by the occult, sought out three strangers who had been touched by the paranormal. His mission was to prove whether or not the paranormal was real, and he hoped adding three people who previously had supernatural experiences would heighten his chances of experiencing unearthly activity. He amassed three adults: Theo, a witty go-getter who stayed at Hill House as a means to escape from a fight with her roommate; Luke, the spoiled and future owner of Hill House; and Eleanor, a fearful dreamer who finds magic and happiness in unlikely places. Together, Dr. Montague, Theo, Luke, and Eleanor’s relationships with each other and their understanding of reality is tested and put to their breaking point. The Haunting of Hill House is more than a ghost story. Instead, it’s a story about relationships, the human mind and will, and the desire to belong and be loved.

Jackson’s beautiful prose and ability to build meaningful character development while also blurring the lines between the paranormal and the psychological creates a one-of-a-kind thriller that has inspired multiple adaptations, including a Netflix series that is praised for its cinematography and storyline. Her work also influenced a plethora of gothic horror writers who, after reading Jackson’s novel, began to focus on the terror aspect of ghost stories instead of relying solely on horror to evoke a variety of emotions in the readers. To this day, The Haunting of Hill House remains one of the best literary ghost stories and continues to prove its status as a must-read. 

This is review is part of the Finding Value series, inspired by the eleven core values central to the Library's mission. Tune in as Library staff review books and movies that highlight the values accessibility, civil discourse, inclusiveness, integrity, intellectual freedom, lifelong learning, literacy, respect, safety, service, and stewardship.

Staff Picks: Fagin the Jew

Reviewed by Bill K., Materials Handler

Fagin the Jew by Will Eisner is instantly available as an ebook on Hoopla.

Respect

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens is certainly a classic of literature. Whether one has read the book or merely seen one of the dozens of adaptations, the title character’s story and the image of him asking for more endures in the cultural consciousness even 180 years since it was published.

It was another character, however, that stuck in the mind of Will Eisner, the comics legend long-considered the creator of the “graphic novel”: Fagin, the leader of the gang of thieves who take Oliver in, notorious from the book’s initial publishing as a horrifically antisemitic caricature. Despite some later depictions de-emphasizing his Jewish ancestry, the antisemitic sting of the character has never really gone away.

Eisner takes the opposite approach in his 2003 graphic novel Fagin the Jew, making the character an unabashed and proud Jew. The book frames its story with Fagin awaiting his execution after the events of Oliver Twist, speaking directly to Dickens and sharing his life story and his side of the story.

The reader sees Fagin, a poor Ashkenazi Jew in England, forced into crime at a young age to survive, and seeking a better life not just to better himself, but to do his community proud. In these early pages, Eisner gives a look at Jewish life in pre-Victorian England, both the squalor of the poor as well as the upper class, politicking their way to something close to acceptance in English high society. Close to, but never fully; even though they were tolerated in Britain more than much of Europe at the time, Jews were still othered and never fully equal.

It almost seems like a Dickens tale itself, with Fagin’s boyhood reflecting Oliver’s story. Except every time Dickens might give his protagonist a joyful reprieve or happy ending, Eisner offers no such comforts. Try as he might, Fagin can never escape the prejudices against his race, both personal and structural. It is an ultimately tragic story, even with a somewhat positive postscript.

Eventually, Fagin meets and partners with the vicious criminal Sikes, leading into a retelling of the story everyone knows but from his viewpoint. Eisner depicts all the tragedies in Oliver Twist’s final act and climax as tragic misunderstandings on Fagin’s part. Truth be told, this section of the narrative is not quite as interesting as Eisner’s fully original anti-Dickensian tale. Still, it is ultimately fitting to the whole, showing how prejudices and assumptions can make simple villains out of complicated situations and imperfect people.

The theme, and value, of Fagin the Jew is respect. Fagin’s quest for respect in a society which will never give it to him, and his—and by extension, Eisner’s—demand of respect for the Jewish people. Indeed, in one scene, the author seems to speak through the title character, in a soapbox moment giving a passionate defense of his people and lashing out at the stereotypes in his depiction (Dickens himself doesn’t come off so positively).

Eisner’s artwork is charming, warmly evoking classic literature illustrations. And the story they’re telling is an impassioned, proudly Jewish story that’s as readable and investing as the type of timeless classic literature it deconstructs.

This is review is part of the Finding Value series, inspired by the eleven core values central to the Library's mission. Tune in as Library staff review books and movies that highlight the values accessibility, civil discourse, inclusiveness, integrity, intellectual freedom, lifelong learning, literacy, respect, safety, service, and stewardship. 

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