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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Gangs of New York: an Informal History of the Underworld

           Written by journalist Herbert Asbury, and originally published in 1928, this is a factual recounting of gang activity in New York City between the 1820s and the 1920s. New York has been and still is a city of immigrants; their ethnicities may change but the drive to survive and succeed always is there. The depths of squalor and prejudice endured by these individuals are astonishing, topped only by the violent acts they inflicted upon one another. All is described in graphic detail.

While we read about the gang members and their adventures, we also learn about the birth and development of the city police force, comprised of both honest and dishonest members. The history of that era’s political machine, Tammany Hall, is also explored.

The writing style is factual and intensely detailed, with the author’s prejudicial feelings towards certain ethnic groups put on view. Illustrations and photographs give the reader an appreciation of the times and places described. This book would be most enjoyed by history and crime buffs; it is dry reading for everyone else.

Friday, April 12, 2013

What's New in Gardening

    Browse our gardening collection for some new ideas and some inspiration.

      The Roots of my Obsession: Thirty Great Gardeners Reveal why they Garden, edited by Thomas C. Cooper, is an inspiring collection of essays, from a wide range of gardeners both amateur and professional.

      The Layered Garden:  Design Lessons for Year-Round Beauty from Brandywine Cottage, is written by David L. Culp, the co-creator of the gardens of Brandywine Cottage in Downington, Pennsylvania. He previously worked at Longwood Gardens also. His layering technique of garden design incorporates the planting of many different species in the same area so that there always are some plants at their peaks.

     The Anxious Gardener’s Book of Answers is written by Teri Dunn Chace. Read this and find out how to fix the 100 most common gardening mistakes and then avoid them in the future. A to Z chapters, from bulbs to pests in your garden to zone matters round up all of the information a gardener can use.

      Slow Gardening: a No-Stress Philosophy for all Senses and Season, written by Felder Rushing, is a peaceful, philosophical approach to planning and growing a garden. Enjoyment of the garden is the primary goal. Information on plants and gardening techniques is also provided.

     The Complete Guide to Mid-Atlantic Gardening:  Techniques for Growing Landscape and Garden Plants in Rhode Island, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Eastern Massachusetts, Connecticut, Southeastern and Northwestern New York, is written by Lynn M. Steiner. Here are practical solutions for growing vegetable, fruit and ornamental gardens. Planning and preparing, maintenance and problem solving, color photos and more are included for gardens in USDA zones 5, 6 and 7.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

April is Autism Awareness Month

Autism, a group of neural developmental disorders typified by impaired social interaction and communication problems, is increasingly in the news these days. About 20 per 1,000 American children are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) each year.

The book Autism Spectrum Disorders: What Every Parent Needs to Know, edited by Alan I. Rosenblatt, Paul S. Carbone, and Winnie Yu, provides in-depth information on the various ASDs and how to determine if your child has one of them. It then discusses how to obtain services and therapies through the schools, medical community, community organizations, and more. This is a complete handbook for parents, teachers and caregivers.

            An Early Start for your Child with Autism: Using Everyday Activities to Help Kids Connect, Communicate, and Learn, is written by doctors Sally J. Rogers, Geraldine Dawson and Laurie Vismara. This instructional manual demonstrates techniques to transform daily routines into learning experiences, encouraging play, language skills and social engagement.

Carly's Voice: Breaking through Autism, is written by Arthur Fleischmann (father) with Carly Fleischmann (daughter). It tells the story of Carly, who was diagnosed with severe autism and an oral motor condition by the age of two. Her condition did not improve, even with extensive speech and behavior therapy, leaving family members feeling increasingly frustrated. Then, at age ten, there was a breakthrough when it was found she could type words to communicate with those around her. Now, at 16, Carly also communicates through social networking sites and a blog, and is a spokesperson for those who have autism.

The Golden Hat: Talking Back to Autism is written by Kate Winslet with Keli Thorsteinsson and Margret Ericsdottir. Winslet met Keli and Margret when she did the English narration of the Icelandic documentary A Mother’s Courage: Talking Back to Autism. The documentary was created by Margret and details her and her son Keli’s struggles with his nonverbal autism disorder. Keli learned to express his thoughts using a letter board; he now can communicate with others. Winslet started an autism non-profit fund, the Golden Hat Foundation; its name derived from a poem written by Kelli, about a magical golden hat that could talk. This book features several photos of celebrities with the symbolic hat.