Kindle - white

Kansas City Public Library cardholders will soon be able to check out e-books for the Amazon Kindle. Within the next week, the Library’s e-books catalog will be outfitted with Kindle-friendly downloadable e-books that also work on any device, such as a smartphone or PC, that is equipped with a free Kindle app.

Though Nooks, iPads, and other supported devices have long been compatible with public library e-books, Amazon’s Kindle — the most popular e-reader on the market — had famously not. That’s why e-reader fans’ ears perked up earlier this year when OverDrive, the library world’s biggest provider of downloadable e-books and digital audiobooks, announced an impending deal with Amazon to be finalized later in the year.

That time has finally come, and OverDrive is working quickly to convert its client public and school libraries with Kindle-formatted e-books – at no cost to libraries or patrons. Expect the Kansas City Public Library’s OverDrive e-books catalog to be updated within the next few days.

Tom Sawyer – a catch?

I’ve known a Tom Sawyer or two in my time. I’m willing to bet a marble and a pinch bug you have, too. Although Mark Twain doesn’t explicitly describe him, I can tell you that Tom’s sparkling eyes are framed by the kind of thick, long lashes that completely distract you from his sometimes questionable shenanigans.

On one level The Golden Door is a grittily realistic tale of one Sicilian family’s emigration to the United States. On another level, it's a near-hallucinogenic explosion of religious surrealism in which amazing fantasies are made flesh.

Get the audio Adventures of Tom Sawyer at kcbigread.org.

Did you know you can download the adventures of Tom, Huck, Becky Thatcher, and Injun Joe and listen to them on your iPod on the go? The Big Read Podcast is live, and it features The Adventures of Tom Sawyer as read by a huge cast of Kansas City luminaries.

Chapter 1 features Mayor Sly James setting the scene in St. Petersburg, Missouri. He’s followed by our own Library Director, Crosby Kemper III, rendering the Glorious Whitewashers scene in Chapter 2.

Other upcoming readers include KCPT host Nick Haines; Nelson-Atkins Museum Director Julián Zugazagoitia; Star writers and editors Steve Kraske, Miriam Pepper, Steve Paul, and Mary Sanchez; Missouri State Senator Jolie Justus, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts CEO Jane Chu, and many more.

The podcast also features dialogue performed by Park University theatre students, including Patrick Kastor (as Tom) and Mindy Reynolds (as Becky).

Everything Must Go movie poster

It’s a funny thing about funny men...at some point they’ve got to show us they can act, too. Everything Must Go finds Will Ferrell examining his stock character not through the lens of comic excess but of compassion.

Marshal Bass Reeves

Breaking Big Read news! The Kansas City Public Library has come into possession of historic fictitious documents outlining the life of Tom Sawyer after his youthful adventures in the works of Mark Twain.

They come to KC Unbound by way of alert patron Tom Ryan, who has composed the following to shed light on one of Missouri’s greatest literary mysteries.

Be sure to keep track of the Library's special Big Read programming, including signature events and book discussions, at kcbigread.org.

The Truth About the Infamous Major Tom Sawyer as Told by a Military Academy Classmate by way of Marshal Bass Reeves and Injun Bill

“Judge Thatcher hoped to see Tom a great lawyer or a great soldier some day. He said he meant to look to it that Tom should be admitted to the National military academy and afterwards trained in the best law school in the country, in order that he might be ready for either career or both.” – The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Ch. XXXV

In America movie poster

In America (2002) is a movie that worms its way into your heart and takes up residence. It moves audiences in profound ways. It feels authentic. It ought to. Many of the scenes were lifted directly from the lives of director Jim Sheridan and his daughters.

What are your “greatest hits?” What are the best moments of your life that you would like to relive over and over and over again? You might have a few that pop directly to the surface, or you might have an oddball moment that came out of nowhere.

This is what it’s like for Samantha Kingston as she dies tragically in a car accident at the age 17. Instead of her life flashing before her eyes, she remembers an odd day from middle school. But instead of going peacefully, Sam wakes up to relive her last day on this earth over and over and over again. Would you do anything differently if you had another chance?

In Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, Sam tries to fix the mistakes she made on the last day of her life, hoping it will change her fate.

By her own account, Samantha is your typical, snotty, popular, self-absorbed teenager. Many girls in her high school are jealous of her attractive boyfriend, her best friends are just as popular and snotty, and she gets away with whatever she wants.

Your Library is now palm-sized.

Update (October 10, 2011): The mobile app is now available for iPhone, Android, and other mobile devices. Learn more.

Thanks to our brand-new mobile app, smartphone users can now access the Kansas City Public Library from anywhere. From searching the catalog to renewing items, placing holds, and downloading e-books, a bevy of services are available through this totally free app.

The app was built by to our specifications by Boopsie, a leading company in mobile development for libraries. The app is currently available for Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, Palm OS, and many other devices. It is not yet available for the iPhone, but it will be very soon. (Stand by, Apple fanboys!)

How to get the app:

  • Android: Launch the Android Market and search for "KC Library."
  • Others: Visit http://kcpl.boopsie.com on your mobile device, or scan the QR code below.
  • iPhones: Coming soon.

KC Library mobile app

Comic Book Movies

Sometimes it seems that everything playing at the megaplex was inspired by a comic book superhero. For today’s quiz you need to match the comic book superhero with the various actors who have played him/her on screen...

We all know Emma Lazarus for giving voice to the Statue of Liberty through her sonnet "The New Colossus" (Give me your tired, your poor). But as Esther Schor shows in her enthralling biography of Lazarus, she was a feminist, a Zionist and an internationally famous Jewish-American writer – before those categories even existed.

Aunt Polly

For a brief shining moment in the spring of 1969, I was Aunt Polly. The 8th grade class of St. Peter’s enacted a little play based on some scenes from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. We all got to choose parts, and I petitioned long and hard (it seemed so, for there was heavy resistance) for the part of Aunt Polly.

Who in their right mind would want to be Aunt Polly, you might ask, and me a boy as well?

But I looked on it as a challenge – could I, a 12 year old boy, bring off this crotchety old maid? I felt I was up to the challenge. Besides, I had the outfit already. On the Halloween prior, I decided that I wasn’t going to get dressed up in any of the more typical outfits – superheroes, skeletons, ghosts, the characters in the YMCA song – no, I was going to paint Dorchester, MA, red as an old woman.

And so, when it was announced that we were going to perform some scenes based on The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, I figured, “I got the outfit, I’m gonna play the part of Aunt Polly.” As it turned out, I had no such aunt, and my mother had nothing about Aunt Polly about her, but Sr. Joseph Helen, our 8th grade teacher, known to all the students as “Jake” had a lot of Aunt Polly about her, and so I modeled myself on “Jake” and tried to channel Aunt Polly, with a little Jonathan Winters’ Maude Frickert thrown in.

Green Card movie poster

Australian director Peter Weir is recognized for many things. Comedy is not among them. 1990's Green Card, in fact, is Weir's only true comedy in a career that spans more than 40 years. But it's a highly satisfying one.

Benton illustration

One of the greatest artistic collaborations in Missouri history is on display right now at the Central Library. Our exhibit Mark Twain and Tom Benton: Pictures, Prose, and Song features illustrations Benton made for three limited edition Twain novels, along with lithographs by Benton, a record album, first edition Twain books, and portraits of both men.

Cliff Robertson at the Spider-Man premier (2002), Photo by Steve Granitz/Wireimage.com

Good looking, versatile and almost impossible to pigeon hole, Cliff Robertson was the kind of actor who left himself behind when he slipped into a role.

Some actors tell us what they are really like (or what they want us to think they are really like) with every performance.

Not Robertson, who died Sept. 10 at his home in Stony Brook, NY at age 88. This native of Los Angeles had a long career in movies and television, yet it was his ability to adapt, to assume the qualities each role required that made him stand apart.

He won the best actor Oscar in 1969 for Charly (he’d picked up an Emmy a couple of years earlier), but his years as a leading man were relatively short. For the last three decades Robertson had kept as busy as he wanted to be with character work, including a recurring role in the hugely popular Spider-Man franchise.

The Kansas City Public Library has on its shelves several noteworthy DVDs of films featuring Robertson. I’d recommend:

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