Monday, November 30, 2009

Season of Giving

The Thanksgiving feast is over, Black Friday has gone, and happy family stories (can you believe I made a pumpkin pie that looked green?) will be replayed in our collective memory. It is time to move on to the next holiday.

While children may be thinking of presents, new toys, Santa or special foods, many families are suffering. It’s not a new story. We’ve been living with the recession, unemployment, and difficult circumstances for many area families for over a year now. This holiday season I hope you can find different ways to help. No matter what your own circumstances, there is always some small service you can perform. It is a great lesson for your children to take them along and participate in this season of giving.

Here at the library we have our “mitten tree.” We are helping Parsons Child and Family Center with a drive of donated winter mittens, hats, scarves and gloves. The Voorheesville Middle School Builders Club is helping with this drive in the schools and throughout the town. Parsons calls their campaign “Holiday Heroes: Compassion in Action.” I love that name. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on an item, but it will be very helpful to the families that Parsons serves. Check out their website to see all the work that is done at Parsons: The mitten tree in our library will be up through December 10th. On Friday, December 11th I will be taking everything over to Parsons for their distribution to children and families.

Today’s Times Union had a piece about a diaper drive for food pantries throughout the Capital District. The Times Union is hosting the drive at their office: Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. through December 14th. You can read the full story here: This grandma has some leftover diapers that grandchildren have outgrown and I’ll buy some more packages. They aren’t covered by food stamps.

If you don’t want to buy diapers, or mittens, or gloves, you can always drop off an extra can of food, box of pasta, etc. at local food pantries. We have baskets in the library for the New Scotland Food Pantry. If you want to help your children understand the giving part of holiday traditions, let them choose something for the food pantries with you at the grocery store; take them to a department store and let them help choose a scarf, mittens or a hat; or remind them that a dry baby is a happy baby and buy one bag of diapers for a family.
~Joyce Laiosa

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow? by Brian Fies

Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow? That’s a great question and an extraordinary graphic novel. Brian Fies recreates most of the Twentieth Century with many creative minds and inspirations that explored the future.

We meet our two main characters in 1939 on their way to the New York City World’s Fair. They are a father and son filled with high expectations for what the future holds. The fair was dedicated to communication, transportation, production and food. The author takes real photos of the fair and places his comic characters into the pictures. Father and son are awestruck by the possibilities of the future and filled with excitement.

Of course, 1939 was the beginning of World War II and the future is put on hold while the home front and the military, including the bomb, take over the narrative. As with any comic series, time marches on but our main characters do not seem to age at all. We move up to the 1950s and see how the Cold War effects the family. Father is building a cement block fallout shelter in the basement and the world of tomorrow seems to have brought supersonic planes, super-smart computers (but they are huge), atomic power, and plans for travel in outer space. Included are actual pictures that were run in Collier’s magazine at the time by an artist that envisioned what the world of tomorrow would look like.

As we move through the decades Fies also includes small comic books (with the newsprint paper and typical super heroes fighting from space to earth and back again) that remind the reader what a typical boy might be reading that was part of the “world of tomorrow.” We continue through spaceflight (when the boy finally goes off to college – I told you it was comic book time) into the future one last time. Then we see a new family: the man with his own daughter, and his father by his side, living on the moon in their world of tomorrow.

I highly recommend this book for kids in sixth grade and up, plus adults! I think of it as history, science, science fiction, and a unique graphic design. The author even pays homage to veteran comics creators in the Space Age Adventures that are the four comic books throughout the story. If you are looking for a book that both fathers and son would enjoy, look no further than Whatever Happened to the Worl d of Tomorrow.
~Joyce Laiosa