Surviving the Summer Heat with Good Books (and Videos)

“Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.”

At least one of the topics that’s been a part of our conversations this past week (aside from Washington politics and investigations of British tabloids) has been the weather—more specifically, the temperature.  In the words of Porky Pig, “Gosh, I’m roastin’!”  With that in mind, the LTL Blog thought it might be interesting to look at some library resources related to heat and temperature.

We begin with Heat.  Searching this word as a subject term in the RL catalog uncovers over 80 items, including Heat and Thermodynamics:  A Historical Perspective and the Excessive Heat Events Guidebook.  The latter is a U.S. government document which defines excessive heat events (EHEs) and explains how best to respond to them.  A print copy of the document is available in RL’s General Collection, but it is also available online.  For those able to tackle physics, upper level mathematics, and probability, let me recommend Random Walk and the Heat Equation, a 2010 work by Gregory F. Lawler.  According to reviewer Miklos Bona, “This is a very readable introductory course resource on topics . . . that have more than their fair share of unreadable textbooks.  Even so, definitely not a beach read for most of us.  For those, like me, needing a simpler explanation of the scientific principles of heat, try Rob Moore’s children’s book Why Does Water Evaporate?: All About Heat and Temperature, a title from RL’s Curriculum Materials Collection (4th floor). 

There is also a subject term for Body temperature.  With this search, I uncovered Mark Blumberg’s 2002 work entitled Body Heat:  Temperature and Life on Earth.  The book’s synopsis from the publisher (Harvard University Press) states, “Whether you’re a polar bear giving birth to cubs in an Arctic winter, a camel going days without water in the desert heat, or merely a suburbanite without air conditioning in a heat wave, your comfort and even survival depend on how well you adapt to extreme temperatures.”

Next I searched the catalog using Global temperature changes and Global warming and received 32 results and 225 results respectively (as of 7/22).  Among the items found with these subject term searches were the books Life in the Hothouse: How a Living Planet Survives Climate Change by Melanie Lenart and How to Cool the Planet: Geoengineering and the Audacious Quest to Fix Earth’s Climate by Jeff Goodall.  Interestingly enough, at the top of the result list was Karen Dionne’s 2011 novel Boiling Point, available in RL’s Popular Reading Materials (1st floor).  This ecothriller is definitely a beach read.  And for scores of other suggestions related to these topics, don’t overlook the Global Warming and Climate Change LibGuide

Finally, for those who would prefer to watch a video rather than read a book, let me recommend the Frontline/NOVA production, What’s Up With the Weather? (science), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (drama), or Some Like it Hot (comedy).

Oh, and the quote above?  Historically, many have attributed it to Mark Twain, but you might be interested in reading what the online source Quote Investigator has to say about its origin as well as Respectfully Quoted:  A Dictionary of Quotations, available in Rice Library’s CREDO reference, a collection of electronic reference books.

Have fun reading (or viewing), everyone, and stay cool!


Annual Awards for Best in Children’s Literature

Each year during its Midwinter Conference, the American Library Association (ALA) announces winners for a number of awards for children’s literature and media, including the Newbery and Caldecott Medals.  The winners of these two highly sought-after awards are selected by separate committees made up of members of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of ALA.

The John Newbery Medal is given for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature.  This year’s winner was Moon over Manifest, written by Clare Vanderpool and published by Delacorte Press.  Vanderpool’s fictional story, set in 1936, tells of twelve-year-old Abilene Tucker who is sent to Manifest, Kansas for the summer by her drifter father.  While seeking to learn more about her father’s past, Abilene becomes involved in “an honest-to-goodness spy hunt” and uncovers some of the secrets of the town’s past and her father’s life.  Other works recognized as Honor Books by the selection committee were:  Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm (Random House), Heart of a Samurai:  Based on the True Story of Manjiro Nakahama by Margi Preus (Amulet Books), Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children), and One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia (Amistad).
The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott and is awarded annually to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.  This year’s medal was presented to Erin E. Stead who illustrated A Sick Day for Amos McGee, written by her husband Philip C. Stead and published by Roaring Brook Press.  When zookeeper Amos McGee’s daily routines are suddenly interrupted by a bad cold, the animal friends he has made at the zoo pay him a visit which succeeds in cheering him up.  Stead’s illustrations are successful too.  In the words of Booklist reviewer Hazel Rochman, “Like the story, the quiet pictures, rendered in pencil and woodblock color prints, are both tender and hilarious.”  The 2011 Caldecott Honor Books included Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave, illustrated by Bryan Collier and written by Laban Carrick Hill (Little, Brown and Company) and Interrupting Chicken, written and illustrated by David Ezra Stein (Candlewick Press).
Once the awards are announced, the medals are presented to the recipients during ALA’s annual conference held during the following summer. Each winner makes an acceptance speech, and the speeches are published annually in the summer/fall issue of Children and Libraries and the June/July issue of Horn Book. Rice Library has at least two books which include copies of some of these acceptance speeches. They are:

     Newbery and Caldecott Medal Books, 1956-1965: With Acceptance Papers, Biographies, and Related Material Chiefly From the Horn Book Magazine [GEN COL: Z1037 .A2 K5 1965]
     Newbery and Caldecott Medal Books, 1966-1975: With Acceptance Papers, Biographies, and Related Material Chiefly From the Horn Book Magazine [GEN COL: Z1037 .A2 N48]

Rice Library’s collections also include copies of most of the books which have received these prestigious awards over the years (since 1922 for the Newbery Medal and since 1938 for the Caldecott Medal) as well as many of the Honor Book selections. Additionally, the library has a number of resources for those interested in using the books in classroom settings. Among these are such works as:

     Teaching With Favorite Newbery Books [GEN COL: LB1575.5 .U5 L53 1999]
Finally, don’t overlook the Children’s and Young Adult Literature LibGuide as an excellent introduction to the topic and a gateway to the library’s many resources.
For assistance with these or other Rice Library resources or services, please contact the library’s Reference Desk at 812/464-1907.