This was the very last meeting of Coffee & Crime, our popular, long-running mystery book club due to our reference librarian, Ariel Zeitlin, venturing out of the library to pursue other goals.
To wrap up the book club, Coffee & Crime talked about a St. Patrick’s Day selection, Ghosts of Belfast by Stuart Neville: an emotionally charged story of an IRA hit man being haunted by the ghosts of twelve innocent people who want him to avenge their murders. It was a customarily lively, sometimes impassioned discussion of a truly compelling book (though not for the faint of heart.) Longtime participant Helen Farber brought oatmeal cookies and the group all agreed to pretend they were Irish scones.
At the end, the members talked about their favorite selections over the years, including Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger, Still Life by Louise Penny, and Malice by Keigo Higashino. It was a bittersweet, but satisfying end to a great run. We wish the best of luck to Ariel in her new position and recommend our three other adult book clubs, Get Lit, Let’s Talk About Books, and The Cookbook Club.
3/26 | Tween Spring Holiday Origami: Gr 4-6
After finding out that her 4-6th graders had little to no experience with origami, Youth Librarian Anna guided the tweens through a fun experience of making origami frogs and rabbits, and gave them instructions to make an origami hydrangea at home. Several parents requested that more origami programs be held and said their children had a wonderful time.
3/28 | Little Bookworms: Gr K-1
In our successful first session of the Spring, Youth Librarian Gina Vaccaro shared some of her favorite picture books featuring birds, including the brand new, thoughtful, yet silly Wordy Birdy by Tammi Sauer, the sweet tale of friendship, Bird, Balloon, Bear ,written and illustrated by Il Sung Na, and Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard.
Children used their math skills to measure out bird seed, and with help from Teen Volunteers, stirred in corn syrup, flour, and water. The children spooned the feed mixture into small paper cups that were prepared with string attached. Once the mixture dries overnight, the feeders can be hung up outside to feed our feathered friends!
The group had a wonderful time– children and parents thanked Gina for such a fun, educational program.
“At Long Last Love” was the theme of a post-Valentine’s Day Senior Happening at the Library. Over 100 seniors enjoyed a program of appropriate love songs from the Great American Songbook, sung by Soprano Jean McClelland, accompanied by her husband, pianist Bill McClelland.
Many of the songs were familiar from the Broadway musicals Brigadoon, Guys and Dolls, and Showboat. Others were from composers like Cole Porter, George and Ira Gershwin, Alan Jay Lerner, or Irving Berlin. Berlin, known as Mr. Tin Pan Alley, wrote over 1,500 songs between 1907 and the 1960s. “Blue Skies” and “How Deep is the Ocean” were two of his songs that Jean sang.
Other selections for the afternoon’s program included “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man” and “Summertime” from Showboat, “Fascinatin’ Rhythm,”“S Wonderful,”“Wouldn’t It be Lovely,” and “In the Still of the Night.”
2/20 & 2/22 |Coffee and Crime
This week’s discussion was on the book Time’s Up by Janey Mack, a light, frothy mystery about a young woman from a cop family who becomes a meter maid to prove she’s tough enough to join the police force.
There were twenty five attendees in total and the two groups had surprisingly different reactions to the book: the night owls enjoyed the book’s slapstick humor, broadly drawn characters, and steamy romance (perfect for Valentine’s Day!). The early birds were critical of the book’s stereotypes, which did seem dated since its publication two years earlier before #MeToo and other social movements had taken off.
Our librarian, Ariel Zeitlin, who leads the group, played a clip from the children’s movie Zootopia, which has a strikingly similar plot to the book. And longtime member Helen Farber brought her own delicious homemade cookie bars to the evening meeting, which were devoured by all.
2/22 |Library Mini Golf Fundraiser
The Livingston Community came together for an evening of fun and fundraising at LPL’s first mini golf event. Cheers and laughter could be heard throughout the children’s department as players aimed for the illusive hole-in-one on a whimsical golf course created entirely by volunteers. The groups who volunteered were the Weeblos Troop 12, Livingston High School Twin Club, Emerald Knights Robotics, Italian Club, National Art Honor Society, and the Livingston Library Teen Advisory Board. All Proceeds Benefited Friends of the Livingston Library and the ALA disaster Relief Fund.
The Livingston Library booth for Chinese Culture Day at the Livingston High School drew a large crowd. Kids who attended loved our free toys, the free Chinese magazines we gave out were very popular as well. Over one hundred bags of toys, eighty Chinese magazines, and dozens of pens were given out.
2/20, 2/26 & 2/27 | Little Listeners
During the winter session of Little Listeners, children ages two to five years old and their caregivers, reinforced their knowledge of basic concepts while enjoying stories, songs, and books. When Amanda read stories about winter, the children loved practicing shape names as they participated in the flannel board story “Where is the Snowball?”. The children learned about the value of sharing and problem-solving in Lost, a book about a bear who loses his mitten. The children also practiced counting and colors in the flannel board story “Ten Rabbits”, in which rabbits gather ingredients to make vegetable soup.
Amanda shared songs related to the different storytime themes and the kids enjoyed a special visit from Guitar Joe who sung Jewel’s “That’s What I’d Do.”
2/26 | Teen Crafters
Teens attending the Library’s annual Teen Crafters Program learned to crochet and/or knit. Over the course of the six-week program, the crafters practiced basic skills while making a small project such as a scarf, bracelet, or mini hat. Once the projects are complete the teens will choose to keep their creation or to donate them to a local charity such as Emily’s Hats for Hope or Woman’s Heart Scarves program.
2/27 | X-treme Readers
The group read one of Gina’s favorite books of recent years, the National Book Award winner and 2015 Newbery Honor Book,Brown Girl Dreaming written by the National Ambassador to Young People’s Literature for 2018, Jacqueline Woodson. The children commented how they loved her poetic use of language and how descriptive the author was in her storytelling– these are some of the same reasons Gina loved the book so much. The readers shared stories of their family history, the story of their names, discussed the Civil Rights Movement, and figured out their “thing,” a.k.a the one thing they do well.
The readers then created word art of their names, using calligraphy and bubble letter templates to simulate ‘graffiti,’ (the author was caught by her uncle as she tried to spray paint her tag.) As the children were writing, Gina played YouTube interviews of Jacqueline Woodson on the Chromebook for the children to listen to. One of the girls took it to the next level by including #xtreme in her ‘tag.’
Finally, the group (and some of their parents) enjoyed the last few minutes of the Livingston Listens Lecture, Understanding Your Child’s Racial Identity.
2/28 |Children’s Chess
Chess classes this winter were led by LHS Chess Club member Varun Maheshwari with assistance from other members of the chess club. Having the class led by a teen volunteer provided a wonderful opportunity for the children to interact with members of the LHS Chess Club, a group which the children chess players will one day have a chance to participate in.
The well-attended chess class for children in grade 2 to grade 5 included experienced chess players as well as players learning chess for the first time. Children reviewed chess basics and chess strategy by listening and answering questions during lessons led by Varun using a demonstration chessboard. Varun and the teen volunteers also challenged the children with chess puzzles that the children solved using the class chess sets and chessboards (purchased by the Friends of the Livingston Library).
Artist and art instructor Mansa Mussa led a group of fifteen adults in a colorful and fun “Healing Hands” collage workshop in which they learned to create vibrant 8×10 inch collages using a variety of wallpaper samples and traced images of their hands.
For the collages, Mansa instructed the participants to use techniques found in collage painter, Romare Bearden’s, works: these techniques included adding various cut geometric pieces, colorful hearts, flowers, word stickers, and various textures and layers to create a dynamic composition. Calling collage the “most democratic” art form, Mansa urged the attendees to create a narrative through their collages and to “break at least one rule” in the process.
A couple of participants took up the option of using digital pictures in their collage –Mansa took a picture from their phone and used a photo printer to make a copy– which made the collages more “personalized.” Students walked away with beautiful, unique collages and expressed how much they not only enjoyed the program, but that they would like to have Mansa come back.
1/16 | Get Lit Adult Book Club
This week’s group read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. In this chilling, dystopian narrative, women have lost all of their rights and must live under the extreme religious society’s patriarchal rule. In the fictional world of Gilead, it is illegal for women to work, have money and read. The women are also expected to eat what they are given and do whatever they are told, or pay dire consequences. As expected, our lively group had a lot to say about this!
Group members were interested to learn that Margaret Atwood was quoted to say that she had “invented nothing” in Gilead. All of the extreme acts of violence and oppression against women were indeed happening in parts of the world when she wrote the book in the 1980’s. The group was also fascinated to learn that the popular quote from the book, “Nolite te Bastardes Carborundorum,” a phrase that has been loosely translated to mean “Don’t let the bastards grind you down,” is actually a joke from Atwood’s Latin classes!
Now that they have read the book, the group is excited to watch the highly acclaimed award winning series.
1/23 | Understanding Race in America with Dr. Khyati Joshi
Dr. Khyati Joshi presented a historical narrative that helped to provide and understanding of how Supreme Court decisions and immigration laws have contributed to our society as we know it today. Dr. Joshi entertained questions and comments from the audience regarding these issues.
Our first set of Coffee & Crime Mystery Book Club meetings for 2018 started off with a bang. Thirty-one members in total (nineteen in the daytime and twelve in the evening) came to the local history room to talk about Keigo Higashino’s literary thriller, Malice. Reference librarian Ariel Zeitlin, the group’s facilitator, served dry roasted edamame to go with the Japanese setting, but they were eclipsed at the evening meeting by member Nancy Pearl’s amazing home-baked chocolate chip cookies.
Because of the novel’s “unreliable narrator,” the group listened to an audio clip about how to construct the perfect lie. A few members resented the author’s skillful manipulation of the reader, while others were spellbound by his mastery, but as usual, everyone had a great discussion.
1/25 | “Nutty by Nature” Improv Comedy Troupe
Sponsored by the Friends of the Library “Think Theater” series, eleven actors arrived to perform hilarious improv skits for a crowd of fifty-two people, including three children.
While Livingston resident and professional actor Robert Sapoff is the founder of the troupe, it was Elaine Brodie of Caldwell that led the show. The other actors joining them were Michael J. Foy, Christina Mastroeni, Alex Bernstein, Tarek Salib and Charles (Chuck) Tsocanos of Bloomfield, Ray Brandess, Bruce Mejia, Tiffany Bizub, Nat Gennace, and Doug Pinkowsky.
In one of the skits, a “husband and wife” were pantomiming barbecuing a steak on a grill and were told to do it in various emotional states, such as anger, depression, love, etc. The audience couldn’t stop laughing when the fuming wife slathered BBQ sauce over the steak while the furious husband shouted out that she very well knew he only liked salt and pepper and the “argument” escalated. It was so funny to see how quickly they could jump from one emotion to another and had the audience in stitches.
In another skit, they asked the public to call out names of various professions and two actors had to perform how those occupations would work together. When the actors chose how a leprechaun (not actually a profession, but let’s pretend it is) was paired off with an astronaut in an office on the moon, some people were left in literal tears from laughing so hard. All in all, it was a wonderfully entertaining evening in which winter doldrums were set aside and good times were had by all.
Vocalist Ellen LaFurn, accompanied by Ron Naspo on bass and Vic Cenicola on guitar, added a jazz vibe to selections from The Great American Songbook. They played their own take of Frank Sinatra’s “It Was a Very Good Year” and treated the audience to songs from the 1930s to the 1950s. Other artists they played songs from included Cab Calloway, Judy Garland, Jo Stafford, Fred Astaire, and many others.
LaFurn also included two of America’s most popular holiday songs, “Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” where she then told a touching anecdote about the latter:
“I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” introduced by Bing Crosby in 1943, held a special place for families with loved ones serving in the armed services. In December of 1965, astronauts Frank Borman and James Lovell completed the first U.S. space rendezvous and set a record for the longest flight in the U.S. space program. As they returned to earth aboard their Gemini 7 spacecraft, NASA asked if they wanted any particular music piped up to them. The crew requested Bing Crosby’s recording of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” making it the first song broadcast into space.
12/12 | PAWS TO READ
Back for another great session, kids grades K-2 had the opportunity to practice their reading with trained therapy dogs. Each child was given a fifteen minute time slot, picking their own book and reading aloud to the patient dog sitting next to them.
With a furry friend that doesn’t judge the children for any mistakes, but rather quietly sits or lays next to them while they read, it encourages them to continue practicing. And of course, getting to pet a cute, fluffy pup is a plus too.
12/13 | MUSIC OPEN PLAY | 3 to 23 month olds
The babies came out in the dozens to play! Youth Services Librarian Gina Vaccaro and Library Assistant Diane Choi organized the new furniture in the Children’s Room to accommodate the droves of families that were in attendance for our December Music Open Play session.
Babies from age 3 to 23 months were treated to an open play session where they were introduced to various musical instruments– including a giant sized keyboard for the babies to crawl on– drums, maracas, bells, a triangle, a xylophone, and other percussion toys.In addition to the music, families were also reading books to their little ones, enjoying educational computer games, building with blocks, and having a fun time together.
The library welcomed a few families to the library for the first time and all in attendance were happy to have an indoor event to share with their babies together.
12/7 & 12/14|COFFEE & CRIME
Despite the cold weather and overlap of dates with Hanukkah, the Coffee & Crime Mystery Book Group had a great turnout on both days: fifteen people on Tuesday in the daytime and sixteen on Thursday in the evening. This month, the group discussed Daniel Friedman’s Don’t Ever Get Old, about a cranky old Jewish ex-detective (and WWII vet) and his yuppie grandson Tequila (“It’s a fraternity thing”) who chase down a treasure hoard of Nazi gold.
Both days were full of lively discussions with passages from the book, such as this one: “’I never thought I would hear you expound the virtues of caring about people.’ I frowned. ‘I care about people. I just don’t like them.’”