12/4 | THE BALLANTINE MANSION AT THE NEWARK MUSEUM
Sue Smith, chairwoman of the Newark Museum’s Speaker’s Bureau, gave an informative presentation on the Ballantine mansion to a room of fifty-two people.
She started off by telling the story of how the house came to be a museum, having been built by Louis Bamberger, which eventually became a National Landmark in 1985. The Museum originally occupied the upper floors of the Newark Public Library, but John Cotton Dana felt that the Museum should be part of a community, so it was moved to its present location of 49 Washington Street in Newark.
The mansion itself was built in 1885 and the Ballantine family lived there until 1919. It once contained a whopping twenty-five rooms and sixteen fireplaces! In addition to the latest in hot air/central air conditioning and five bathrooms, the house had parquet floors, ornamental plaster-work ceilings and stained glass windows. The mansion was then sold to an insurance company for office space, which surprised many people during the presentation.
Sue showed slides of each room, making sure to point out specific details, such as a fireplace in one of the rooms with English pink tiles , or that it contained a stained glass window done by Tiffany that cost $450 (a small fortune back then). One of the more unusual slides was a scene of eight headless figures, dressed in period clothes, seated around an elaborately set dining room table.
For those interested in visiting the mansion, Sue Smith finished off the presentation by mentioning that in January 2018, the lobby will be completely remodeled with floor to ceiling windows.
12/5 | X-TREME READERS BOOK CLUB | Grades 4-5
The X-Treme Readers Book Club met to discuss the winner of both the 2011 National Book Award and the 2012 Newbery Medal, Thanhha Lai’s Inside Out and Back Again. The book takes place in 1975 and details a year in the life of 10 year old Vietnamese refugee, Hà and her family’s journey from their home in Vietnam, to refugee camps in Guam and Florida until settling in Alabama.
To help set the story, Gina showed pictures of Vietnam and the natural beauty it possesses. To help the children understand the journey that Vietnam refugees traveled, the group used Google Maps to chart the expedition across the ocean, from the river in Saigon where the family in the story escaped across the Pacific Ocean to the refugee camps, to Alabama.
In the discussion, Gina became aware that over half of the group had learned English as a second language and the majority of the group actively speak another language at home. In all seriousness, the children asked, “Why didn’t Hà use Google Translate?” It is hard for them to understand a world without the technology that they are growing up with.
As the group enjoyed a snack, Gina played a YouTube video of author Thanhha Lai reading her book at the National Book Awards Finalists Reading. The young readers enjoyed the book, however, hearing the author read her written words in her own voice really helped to bring the powerful story to life.
In January, the X-treme Readers Book Club is discussing Sharon Creech’s beloved Granny Torrelli Makes Soup.
12/5 & 12/6 | SEASONAL PRINTING
Teen Librarian Karen deWilde and Head of Youth Services Anna Coats held three Seasonal Printing workshops this week. Children in grades K-2, 3-5 & 6-8, created colorful, layered beautiful festive designs using Gel Printing Plates.
12/7 | DYNAMIC DRAWING: FUN WITH COMPOSITION
Fine artist, Sarah Canfield (www.sarahcanfield.com) led this fun workshop where she helped the twenty-five participants understand the creative process that happens before a painting or drawing is started. She discussed the essential lines in a composition that create a basic structure for drawing or painting. One of these ideas was explored through sketching compositions using smartphone photography.
According to Sarah, “photography is a straightforward and spontaneous way to record ideas for your art in addition to preparatory sketches. When used thoughtfully, it can be a useful tool to incorporate into your repertoire and can save valuable time in the planning process.”
After covering the fundamentals of composition using images of paintings from her iPad, Sarah had everyone take pictures with their phones of the three still-life arrangements she had put up on the center of the work tables. She then asked them to pick an image or two, crop or edit them as needed, and use the image to start composing a sketch of the still life using the newsprint sheets, compressed charcoal sticks, and soft graphite pencils provided.
Participants appeared very involved in their sketching and produced some great drawings/sketches, which were shared at the end in a critique session. Many attendees mentioned that they hadn’t sketched or drawn in years, and this workshop made them realize how much fun it is!