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Award-winning children’s author Kate DiCamillo discussed her book The Tale of Despereaux, a delightful story of a mouse in love with music, stories, and a princess named Pea, at the Plaza Branch on January 9, 2009. Discover the wonder of her acclaimed fiction for kids or check out a few literary mice scampering across the pages of other children’s novels.

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The Kansas City Public Library is hosting events with three authors in January 2009 who have written cultural food histories. On January 6 at the Central Library, Ken Albala discusses Pancake: A Global History. Culinary historian Andrew Smith discusses Hamburger: A Global History on January 13 at the Plaza Branch. And on January 27 at the Central Library, Pierre Laszlo discusses his book Citrus: A History. Read one of these fascinating accounts of the pancake, hamburger, or citrus or check out another historical exploration of the food we eat.

Pancake: A Global History

Pancake: A Global History
By Ken Albala
Round, thin, and made of starchy batter cooked on a flat surface, it is a food that goes by many names: flapjack, crepe, and okonomiyaki, to name just a few. The pancake is a treasured food the world over, and now Ken Albala unearths the surprisingly rich history of pancakes and their sizzling goodness.

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Do your digital devices, video games, and web surfing alienate you from the world or create new connections? On January 8, 2009, Eugene Halton will discuss his new book The Great Brain Suck and Other American Epiphanies which argues that Americans know less and less as our world becomes more saturated with media messages, materialism, and mobile devices. Here are a few other books on the topic.

Digital culture | Consumerism | How we think

Digital culture

The Age of American Unreason book jacket

The Age of American Unreason
By Susan Jacoby
Combining historical analysis with contemporary observation, Susan Jacoby dissects a new American cultural phenomenon---the addiction to infotainment, from television to the Internet, which she argues has resulted in a lazy and credulous public.

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Author William Graebner will talk about his latest book, Patty’s Got a Gun: Patricia Hearst in 1970s America, on January 21, 2009 at the Central Library. These books include historical accounts of the Patty Hearst story, explorations of 1970s America, pictorial works of life at the time, as well as novels set during the 70s.

Patty Hearst | 1970s America | 1970s in Pictures | 1970s in Fiction

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Derived from politics and advertising, slogans and catchphrases permeate American culture. On January 7, 2009, at the Central Library, Jan Van Meter will discuss his new book Tippecanoe and Tyler Too: Famous Slogans and Catchphrases in American History. Explore this book and others that tell the stories behind the expressions we hear and say.

 Famous Slogans and Catchphrases in American History book jacket

Tippecanoe and Tyler Too: Famous Slogans and Catchphrases in American History
By Jan R. Van Meter
In individual entries on slogans and catchphrases from the early seventeenth to the late twentieth century, Jan Van Meter reveals that each one is a living, malleable entity that has profoundly shaped and continues to influence our public culture.

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Observed since 1963, Wright Brothers Day on December 17 marks the anniversary of Orville and Wilbur Wright’s first manned flight near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina on December 17, 1903. What better way to appreciate the remarkable invention of the airplane than with a good book? Check out one of these biographies, histories, or memoir.

The Wright brothers

 The Wright Brothers and the Great Race for Flight book jacket

Award-winning biographer James Tobin takes on the story of the Wright brothers in To Conquer the Air: The Wright Brothers and the Great Race for Flight. This narrative biography details their invention, personal relationships, and competitors.

The Wright Brothers Legacy: Orville and Wilbur Wright and Their Aeroplanes, by Walt Burton and Owen Findsen, presents the subject through photographs. Over 250 are included in this book that show the brothers’ experiments, flights, and air shows, as well as memorabilia and souvenirs.

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Update:
The Philip Miller event on Dec. 28 has been canceled.

On December 28, 2008, at the Plaza Branch, Philip Miller will launch his sixth book of poetry, The Casablanca Fan. Called the “Godfather” of the Kansas City poetry scene, Miller was founder of The Riverfront Reading Series and a founding board member of The Writers Place. Check out Miller’s previous books or other books by local poets.

By Philip Miller | More poetry by local authors

By Philip Miller

Miller is the author of five previous collections of poetry including Cats in the House, Hard Freeze, From the Temperate Zone, and Branches Snapping, and Why We Love Our Cats & Dogs. He also co-edited the anthology Chance of a Ghost.

Branches Snapping
By Philip Miller

Hard Freeze
By Philip Miller

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On December 10, 2008 at the Central Library, author Keith Gandal discussed his new book The Gun and the Pen: Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner and the Fiction of Mobilization. Check out Gandal’s work, other literary criticism, or some postwar World War I novels by American writers.

Postwar novels by Hemingway, Fitzgerald & Faulkner | Literary criticism of postwar novels | More postwar World War I fiction

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December 9, 2008 is the 400th anniversary of English poet John Milton’s birthday. Born in 1608, Milton wrote the epic poem Paradise Lost and had an enormous impact on English literature. Explore some of Milton’s work firsthand, read a biography of this influential man, or check out some fiction inspired by him.

By John Milton

Paradise Lost book jacket

John Milton’s epic poem, Paradise Lost, is considered by many to be the greatest in the English language. Originally published in 1667, this poem depicts the biblical story of the war between God and Satan and the fall of Adam and Eve.

Part of the Everyman Library Pocket Poets series, Milton: Poems contains a concise selection of his work, including sonnets and parts of Comus and Samson Agonistes.

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Author Willa Cather, born on Dec 7, 1873, is considered one of the 20th century’s greatest writers. Explore some of her novels, read more about this influential author, or check out some “read-alike” books if you enjoy her writing.

Novels by Willa Cather | About Willa Cather | Read-Alikes

Novels by Willa Cather

O Pioneers! book jacket

O Pioneers!, Willa Cather’s second novel, depicts the life of Alexandra Bergson, the daughter of Swedish immigrant farmers. A strong woman, she struggles to save her farm in Nebraska in this realistic portrayal of prairie life at the turn of the 20th century.

Another classic, My Ántonia tells the story of Ántonia’s life on the Nebraska prairie as told by her childhood friend, Jim. An immigrant, Antonia matures into a strong and courageous woman with the pioneer spirit, surviving hardship and betrayal.

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We’ve all used this phrase, but do you know why it’s significant?
The Spanish Ministry of Culture is making certain readers the world over don’t ever forget. The most recent Cervantes prize was awarded to Spanish novelist Juan Marse for his body of work.
Marse has focused many of his books on the rifts in Spanish society under the rule of Franco.

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On December 9, 2008 at the Central Library, editorial cartoonist Lee Judge reflected on his 27 years at The Kansas City Star and shared some of his favorite unpublished cartoons in his presentation, Cartoons We’re a Little Afraid to Show You. These books explore the history of political cartoons in America, reveal cartoons that were never printed, and take a look at specific editorial cartoonists’ work.

The Art of Ill Will book jacket

The Art of Ill Will: The Story of American Political Cartoons
By Donald Dewey
The Art of Ill Will is a comprehensive history of American political cartooning, featuring more than 200 illustrations from the colonial period to contemporary cartoonists like Pat Oliphant and Jimmy Margulies. These artists had an uncanny ability to encapsulate the essence of a situation and steer the public mood with a single drawing and caption.

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The Kansas City Public Library and the Center for Practical Bioethics hosted an all-day bioethics symposium called Controversial Bodies: How to View Plastinated Corpses on December 5, 2008 at the Central Library, spurred in part by the Bodies Revealed exhibit at Union Station this year. These books cover bioethical issues and the field of medical ethics.

Bioethics | Medical ethics | Plastinated bodies

Bioethics

Challenging Nature book jacket

Challenging Nature: The Clash of Science and Spirituality at the New Frontiers of Life
By Lee M. Silver
In Challenging Nature, Silver offers a provocative look at the collision of science, religion, pseudoscience, and politics.

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Author Vicki Myron discussed her best-selling book, Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World, on December 3, 2008 at the Plaza Branch. Dewey hit No. 1 on the New York Times Bestseller List in November. Check out this bestseller or other books that feature the unique connections humans have with cats and other animals.

Our cats | Animals & humans

Our Cats

 The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World book jacket

Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World
By Vicki Myron, with Bret Witter
The charming story of Dewey Readmore Books, the beloved library cat of Spencer, Iowa, starts in the worst possible way. Only a few weeks old, on the coldest night of the year, he was stuffed into the returned book slot at the library. For the next 19 years, he never stopped charming the people of Spencer with his enthusiasm, warmth, humility, and, above all, his sixth sense about who needed him most.

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It wasn’t an easy task, but the dedicated and determined readers taking part in the Waldo Library’s Jewish American Literature book group, Demons, Golems, and Dybbuks: Monsters of Jewish Imagination took on the award winning novel, The Puttermesser Papers by respected essayist and literary critic, Cynthia Ozick.

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