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PAL Holiday Tea to feature The Opus 76 Quartet

This year, we’ve partnered with Post Art Library and Pro Musica to bring The Opus 76 Quartet to the library for the annual PAL Holiday Tea!

Join us on Saturday, December 4, 2021 for one of two performances:

  • 10-10:45AM: Enjoy a delightful morning Bach-a-Bye Baby performance featuring author/narrator Leia Barrett in a new musical take on the classic tale of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.”
  • 2-3:00PM: Enjoy an afternoon performance of classical string quartet favorites. Specifically, A. Dvorak: Quartet No.12 in F Major, “American,” Op.96 and The Danish String Quartet: Selections from Woodworks. At the end of this performance, PAL will give away their take-home Holiday Tea kits while supplies last.

From its hometown of Kansas City, The Opus 76 Quartet has become recognized in journals worldwide for its entertaining and energetic interpretations of the classics. Which is to say we are very excited to welcome them to our library!

These programs are free and open to the public. Registration not necessary.

PLEASE NOTE: in an effort to offer safe programming, masks will be required for all attendees ages 2 and older (per CDC guidelines), regardless of vaccination status.

The 2021 PAL Holiday Tea is a partnership between Post Art Library, Pro Musica, and Joplin Public Library. For more information about this event, contact PAL Director Jill Sullivan at 417-623-7953 x1041 or jhsullivan@postartlibrary.org.

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Have you ever gotten a book recommendation that was so good you could not wait to tell everyone else about the book? This is that book! This epic multigenerational story draws you in and pretty soon the characters feel like your family and friends.

I love multigenerational tales – The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See and Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi are two of my favorites. While reading Pachinko, I joked with the person who recommended it to me, that I could barely live my life. All I wanted to do was read the book. It was so compelling that I could not wait to see what happened next.

The novel, set in Korea, starts in 1910, and focuses on a family who runs a boarding house in a small village by the ocean. This couple has only one son, Hoonie, who was born with a cleft palate and twisted leg, but manages to survive childhood and grow into a dependable son who makes his parents proud. Hoonie eventually takes over the boarding house with the help of his wife, Yangjin, and the couple have a daughter named Sunja.

As a naïve, sheltered teenager, Sunja makes a mistake. She meets and falls in love with a much older, Korean man. Unbeknownst to her, he is already married to a Japanese woman and when Sunja becomes pregnant, he offers to take care of her as his Korean mistress. Sunja refuses, and thus, starts a family-centered tale that readers will be unable to put down.

After Sunja’s rejection of Hansu, an unusual and timely solution is provided for her situation, and soon she is on her way to Japan to start a new life. Over the course of the next several years she deals with many struggles. She and her children and grandchildren endure harsh discrimination, financial troubles and have their lives impacted by world events, but despite the hardships, Sunja’s life has love and friendship, and raising her children brings her much joy.

I am not sure how I missed this captivating book when it was first released four years ago, but if you have not read it, I highly recommend it. Min Jin Lee has created a beautiful, enthralling tale of family. The characters are well written, flaws and all, and the setting and use of world events creates a strong, thought provoking novel.

Find in catalog.

The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki

This book spoke to me. Like, I’m not kidding, it legit spoke to me. I know, I know, this type of statement typically implies the use of overtly figurative language. Not this time, however. Well, maybe a little. Since this book doesn’t have vocal cords, there’s a bit of anthropomorphic musing taking place here. Still, in terms of one entity addressing another, this book spoke to me. In case you haven’t picked up on my word play just yet, “The Book” is the narrator. Well, The Book is one of the narrators.

Utilizing a multi-narrative perspective, Ruth Ozeki creates a literary tapestry of sorts, threading the similar yet dissimilar voices of The Book and a young boy named Benny into an amalgamation of experiences both lived and perceived. To clarify, Benny does most of the living here, while The Book gladly assumes responsibilities aligned with perception. That’s not to say that Benny isn’t perceptive, just that The Book takes the cake–acting as a wise sage to Benny’s explorative youth. Speaking of “cake”, it talks too.

Shortly after the untimely death of his father, Benny begins to hear voices. At first, he merely hears the voice of Kenji, his uncompromisingly dead dad. Yet, by the first anniversary of Kenji’s death, the number of voices has grown exponentially. Be it the food in his fridge (cake) or his sneakers, Benny is inundated with the whispers of inanimate objects and the personalities they espouse. As his story progresses, so do the voices, more specifically, so do the voices’ motives and intentions. Soon after his fourteenth birthday, these voices entice Benny to perform less than reputable behaviors. That is to say, the objects around him are tempting Benny to behave rather poorly. These bizarre circumstances eventually lead to Benny’s admittance into a psychiatric facility.

As Benny’s narrative unfolds, The Book reveals another tale. Annabelle is a shy, yet driven young woman working her way through library school when she meets Kenji, a new-to-America, Japanese born jazz clarinetist. Taking The Book’s narrative at face value, Annabelle has a propensity toward dating musicians. In fact, when she first meets Kenji, she is dating the less than chivalrous jazz pianist, Joe. After a botched attempt at embarrassing her on stage, Annabelle’s piano-playing boyfriend becomes the foil of his own sinister plot. Knowing that Annabelle is reluctant to sing in front of an audience, Mr. Piano Man (but not of the Billy Joel persuasion) forces the first-time performer on stage for a vocal solo, thus allowing his narcissism to seemingly “put her in her place.” As a reader, I’m still uncertain as to why she needed to be put into any place (let alone her own “place”). Regardless, his motives seemed harm-ridden at best. Having assumed the mantle of “villain” in this unraveling plot, Joe relishes the ensuing events about to unfold

Ozeki masterfully mixes a cocktail of human emotions and their coinciding actions. Furthermore, her wordsmithing is hard to beat. In the scene mentioned above, she describes an intricate portrait of Kenji’s first impressions regarding Annabelle, as well as his attempts to help guide her beyond the initial trepidation she endures throughout her forced performance.

“[Her] faltering phrasing made Kenji ache with loneliness. Only two lines in and she was dying up there. No one could save her. He jiggled his foot and licked his reed again, waiting for his entrance and feeling like his heart was going to burst, and just then, as though she sensed him watching, she turned her head and looked straight at him. Her impossible lavender eyes were brimming with tears.

“No one could save her, but Kenji had to try. He closed his eyes, raised his clarinet, and blew a sinuous line of notes that rose like a rope, twinning through the trumpets and up around the bass, subduing the snare drum and looping past the sax, until finally it reached her. She caught hold of his riff and let it lift her.

He was playing it for her, carrying her through the second verse and then on, boldly into the chorus.

She was singing it now, and as her voice soared, the loud-talking hipsters fell silent. Beards turned toward the stage, boots began to tap and fingers to snap as the song built to its final, brassy crescendo, and then it was over.

She tossed her blond curls and turned to face the audience. The applause rose and fell as she clasped her hands together and made an awkward bow. Joe joined her in the spotlight and put his arm around her waist, but she gave a little wriggle, slipped out of his grasp, and teetered back to her table.”

Annabelle and Kenzi’s relationship flourishes from here. Employing a candid realism to marital bliss, Ozeki briefly explores the years leading to Benny’s birth and then Kenji’s sudden death, not forsaking the human components associated with love, family, and growth in general (i.e., it’s not all “sunshine and rainbows”). She rarely glosses over the flawed elements of human existence, but instead allows individual depravity to highlight one’s need for others–especially within the context of family. Let me say that again, “family.” This is the heart of Ozeki’s story. As Annabelle’s household dynamics take on a new shape in the wake of Kenji’s death, she begins to look for something to fill the void of her husband’s absence. She puts on weight. She ceases daily maintenance of household chores. Most interestingly, she begins to collect things. It starts out innocently, then quickly grows into an obsession of sorts–the obsession of hoarding.

It is within this reality of circumstance that Ozeki’s words truly captivate. As Benji struggles to make sense of the fact that inanimate objects are talking to him, Annabelle gathers more and more objects to add to her repertoire of possessions. This story is about the power of possessing. Yet, it is also about the power that possessions have over us as humans. This story is about loss. Yet, it is also about finding something new in the midst of absence derived from tragedy. This story is about mental illness. Yet, it is also about the beauty of creativity, imagination, and the profound mysteries of this world. This story is about a young boy who greatly misses his dad. It is about a young mother who desperately longs for her husband’s protective guidance once again. Yet, it is also about a family learning to love one another anew, even amid heartache and its ever-present companion, change.

If you’re looking for a book that “speaks to you,” both anthropomorphically and figuratively, then this might be what you’re looking for. Be warned, this isn’t a light reading. This book is heavy (again, both literally and figuratively—as it’s a whopping 548 pages). At times, it is humorous, especially when Kenji leans into the playfulness of a solid “dad-joke” (when speaking to his son of his namesake, Kenji says, “Benny Goodman was the King of Swing…[b]est jazz clarinetist in the world. I gave you his name so you will be a good man”). At other times, it is mysticism at its best (as made evident when Benny and The Book both explain the differences between the voice inflections of “made-things” and “unmade-things”–or things of nature). Still yet, there are times when this book is heart wrenching, provoking powerful emotions both in its characters and from its readers. I won’t underestimate the power of subjectivity. This book isn’t for everyone. Yet, if you’re in the mood for a well-crafted, emotion-driven story that does well to grow and develop its characters along the way, then you might want to give this book a chance. If you do, you can pick it up in the New-Fiction section of the Joplin Public Library.

Find in catalog.

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

As the title implies, MEXICAN GOTHIC by SILVIA MORENO-GARCIA is an homage to the gothic fiction novels of the 20th century, but one set deep in the mountains of Mexico rather than the English countryside.

Noemí Taboada is the strong-willed, somewhat-spoiled daughter of a wealthy family. She spends her free time reveling in the glamor and decadence of 1950’s Mexico City – dating men her father doesn’t approve of, and enjoying life.

As the book opens, Noemí has been summoned home from a costume party by her father. Expecting to be reprimanded for her choice of date, Noemí is surprised that her father instead wants to talk about her cousin Catalina.

Catalina was recently married following a whirlwind romance. She kept her relationship with Virgil Doyle a secret from everyone, and the two went back to Virgil’s ancestral home as soon as they were wed.

Noemí’s father has received a frantic, confused letter from Catalina claiming that the Doyles are poisoning her and mentioning ghosts. Fearing that either Catalina is in real danger, or that she may need some psychological help that her new husband refuses to provide, Mr. Taboada asks Noemí to visit her cousin and report back about the situation.

Arriving at the crumbling mansion known as High Place, Noemí is immediately at odds with the Doyle family. Virgil is brusque, dismissive, and unhelpful. Virgil’s aunt, Florence, keeps Noemí from visiting Catalina, who she claims has tuberculosis. And the Doyle patriarch, Howard, talks almost exclusively about eugenics.

Now a sickly, bedridden old man, Howard also tells Noemí about his deceased wives. They were a pair of sisters, both wards of Howard when he came to Mexico. He married the elder sister initially, but she died within the year, leaving Howard to marry the younger sister.

From one of the local people in town, Noemí learns about the fate of Howard’s children. Years ago, Howard’s daughter Ruth had fallen in love with a local young man. When the young man went missing following her father’s disapproval of the match, Ruth took a shotgun into the house and shot every member of her family, including herself.

Howard survived his gunshot wound, Florence and young Virgil were not in the house at the time; the three of them were the only remaining members of the Doyle family.

Noemí’s only ally at High Place is Florence’s son, Francis. It is through him that she learns much of the history of the mansion and the Doyle family.  He tells Noemí about his family’s mining business that built their fortune, which has since dried up, and the English cemetery that Howard had constructed – with dirt brought over from Europe – where the deceased Doyles have been laid to rest.

When Noemí is finally allowed to see her cousin, Catalina seems relatively normal. She does seem weak and tired, but more coherent than she was in her letter. Until Catalina tells Noemí that the Doyles can hear her through the walls.

Concerned for her cousin, but unable to convince Virgil to get help for her, Noemí resolves to leave High Place and get help. Up to this point, the Doyles have been creepy and off-putting, but as Noemí attempts to leave the mansion, things begin to get a lot more supernatural.

Moreno-Garcia borrows elements from the classics of gothic fiction, from Flowers in the Attic to Dracula. MEXICAN GOTHIC is a creepy, atmospheric novel. The reader feels a growing dread as the history of the Doyle family is revealed, and as they – along with Noemí – come to understand just how much danger the Taboada cousins are in.

Noemí herself is not a traditional amateur detective. She is focused, driven, and stubborn. But while she has the fashion sense and charisma of a teenage sleuth like Nancy Drew, she has no real interest in solving the case. Her whole focus is on helping her cousin, not piecing together any mysteries.

It is an unusual book, and there is more going on below the surface than I can convey. Once you finish the novel, I recommend seeking out interviews with the author – she has a lot to say about this book, and about the real mining town in central Mexico that inspired the novel.

Find in Catalog

Storywalk at JPL! “Just in Case you Want to Fly”

Joplin Public Library’s Rosemary Titus Reynold’s Children’s Department staff are excited to announce a new interactive outdoor activity just in time for Summer Reading at Joplin Public Library – A StoryWalk®!

A StoryWalk® is an innovative way for families to enjoy reading and being outdoors at the same time. Laminated pages from a children’s book are attached to stakes, which are installed along an outdoor path. As you stroll along the path, you’re directed to the next page in the story. There are also fun action prompts on each sign to keep children engaged and enhance enjoyment.

The StoryWalk features, Just in Case you Want to Fly by Julie Fogliano and Christian Robinson. It is a fun (and sometimes silly!) book about dreaming big and the importance of friends and family. The activity is located in JPL’s “Outdoor Classroom” area, which is at the Northwest corner of the library building.

The Storywalk will remain up throughout the month of June. The activity is completely self-guided, free, and fun for all families. You may enjoy the activity at any time, but if you wish to also enjoy the library, the open hours are Monday-Friday: 9 am to 6 pm, Saturday: 9 am to 5 pm, and Sunday: 1 pm to 5 pm.


Since 1902, JPL has been fulfilling the information needs of citizens of Joplin and the surrounding community. JPL opens tomorrow’s doors today through diverse opportunities to learn, create, explore, and have fun.

It’s National Poetry Month!

A Dazzling Display of Dogs by Betsy Franco, illustrations by Michael Wertz

iF: A Treasury of Poems for Almost Every Possibility edited by Allie Esiri and Rachel Kelly

 

I’m so excited! April is National Poetry Month!  In 1996, the American Academy of Poets launched this annual celebration to “remind the public that poets have an integral role to play in our culture and that poetry matters”. Poetry is a rich gift offering something for everyone. Whether formal or informal, fancy or casual, long or short, poetry is a gateway to the universe. It explores the past and worlds unknown, speaks what the heart cannot say, brings solace and strength, yelps with joy, makes us laugh.

If you’ve only encountered dry, dusty poems or have only had poetry forced upon you, try one of these books instead. Both of them are great for family time or solo reading, and both, along with other poetry books, are available through the Library’s OverDrive/Missouri Libraries 2 Go e-resource found at https://molib2go.overdrive.com/missouripldc-joplin/content or the Libby app.

You’ll find a variety of verses–rhyming and not–and subjects in these poems. They are fun to see and hear! Try reading them aloud, play around with the tempo, feel the rhythm of the words. For extra fun, try reading outside! It’s a super opportunity to explore poems on your own or to build language skills with kids and is easily adaptable to electronic communication.

An easy place to start is with iF: A Treasury of Poems for Almost Every Possibility, an anthology of well known or frequently taught poems with a smattering of less well known verses from famous poets. British editors Allie Esiri and Rachel Kelly created an app to connect kids to poetry and have collected their favorites to encourage poetry time at home. Their selections range from nursery rhymes to nonsense verse to love poems to historical ballads–lots of familiar territory here. Plenty of famous, pre-20th century names are included–Wordsworth, Poe, Shakespeare, Dickinson, Browning, Rossetti, Robert Louis Stevenson, A.A. Milne, Lewis Carroll, among others–with a smattering of later poets.

iF offers helpful aids to understand poetry’s structure and to connect poetry to children’s lives. Esiri and Kelly include a glossary of poetic forms and terms accessible to families exploring how poems work. The editors also divide the book into sections such as “Growing Up”, “Humor and Nonsense”, “Animals, Nature and Seasons”, and “Bedtime”; each section starts with easier poems and progresses to longer, more complex ones. Many poems have short explanatory notes from the editors. An index of authors and index of titles make it easy to search for a familiar entry. Most helpful is the “Poems for Possibilities” list which suggests poems for different situations such as needing courage, seeking guidance, facing grief, or needing “a pocket full of peace”.

While iF is a gateway to read-aloud poetry, A Dazzling Display of Dogs is proof that poetry can be a feast for the eyes and ears. Poet Betsy Franco has transformed dog stories from elementary students into lively concrete poems which dance across the pages. Concrete poetry often refers to poems with outlines depicting a recognizable shape and which may or may not rhyme–a verse about a bell written in the shape of a bell, for example. Here the poems are artworks with a life of their own. Illustrator Michael Wortz uses each poem’s shape to create energetic scenes in a palette of blues and warm reds, oranges, and yellow. He layers shapes and textures in a look resembling cut paper come to life.

Suitable for reading cover to cover or randomly, Franco’s book is chock full of delight. Try “Fast Al, the Retired Greyhound”, a former track racer whose story is told in the circular path he runs on the beach. Or check out “Apollo at the Beach” which shows a yapping dog chasing swooping seagulls of text. “Emmett’s Ode to His Tennis Ball” is a riot of yellow and blue with a “slobbery, sloppy, slimy sphere” of poem in his mouth. “White Collar Blues” is a Cone of Shame worn by Mathilda who is having none of it.

There’s plenty of fun to be had during National Poetry Month.  For virtual activities from the American Academy of Poets, check out https://poets.org/ and click on “National Poetry Month” at the top of the screen. See the Library’s webpage for links to our e-resources for books of all sorts, http://www.joplinpubliclibrary.org/

Hope you enjoy the poetry of words and of nature this month!

 

CALLING ALL WRITERS: 2019 JOPLIN WRITERS’ FAIRE REGISTRATION

Registration is now open for the 2019 Joplin Writers’ Faire, an annual, collaborative library event that connects all sorts of writers to their existing and potentially new audiences while encouraging community support of local and regional writers.

Last year, over 25 authors participated in and over 300 people attended this annual event! Registration is FREE and open to all writers, writers’ groups, and writing-related organizations.

DETAILS:

  • The 3rd Annual Joplin Writers’ Faire is scheduled for Saturday, October 26, 2019 from 10am-2pm at Joplin Public Library.
  • Registrationis FREE and opens at 9am on Thursday, August 1, 2019 and closes at 6pm on Friday, August 30, 2019. Neither early nor late registrations will be accepted. Tables will be provided for the first 25 registrants. 
  • For an opportunity to participate in the public reading portion of this event, we request that you donate an item (e.g. one of your books, associated merchandise, a journal, pen set, etc.) to be given away as a door prize. If you’re agreeable to the donation and would like to claim one of the sixteen public-reading slots, then please state as such at the time of your registration. Note that participation in the public-reading portion of this event is optional and that slots will be given on a first come, first serve basis. 
  • Contact either Jill Sullivan (jhsullivan@postartlibrary.org; 417-623-7953 x1041) or Evan Martin (emartin@joplinpubliclibrary.org; 417-623-7953 x1018) to register.

The Joplin Writers’ Faire is a collaboration between Post Art Library (PAL) and Joplin Public Library (JPL).