Author Archives: smkelly8

About smkelly8

writer, teacher, movie lover, traveler, reader

Reference Homework

1. Who is the editor of School Library Journal?

The Editorial Director of School Library Journal is Rebecca T. Miller. I found this by going to and when I didn’t see a masthead on the About Us page, I looked for a column since many periodicals have a column by the editor and this is no exception.

“Rebecca T. Miller.” (2014). School Library Journal. Web. Retrieved from on March 21, 2014.

2. I need a review of The Lightening Thief by Riordan.

I first searched Book Reviews Online and found 14 reviews for this novel and more for its other formats, e.g. audio book and graphic novel.

I also checked New Yorker and found they published a review as well:

Diones, Bruce. (2010). “Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief.” New Yorker 86.3: 14. Academic Search Premier. Web. 21 Mar. 2014.

I loved the ease of use of Book Reviews Online, but they don’t list reviews printed in newspapers and magazines, which can have value. This bibliography seemed accurate and worth returning to.

3. I need to find a library that holds the work Avvisi di Costantinopoli that was published in Venice in the 17th century.

I searched and found that Harvard University has Avvisi di Costantinopoli, which was published in 1684 in Venice. Even though I trust World Cat since our text and professor recommend it, I searched Harvard’s library and it is there, available for in library use.

4. I am looking for a copy of Pride and Prejudice in Romanian. Can you help me?

Using World Cat OCLC, I found that the following libraries have Jane Austen’s classic in Romanian.

I looked on, but there were no copies available in Romanian. has the Romanian Thesaurus Edition of Pride and Prejudice. Depending on my library’s policies, I might offer to acquire the book through Amazon. I tried Project Gutenburg Europe for a copy to download, but that site seems to be abandoned.

I trust World Cat OCLC, “a network leader,” because it’s widely used and recommended in our text and by several professors.

5. Is there really a publisher by the name of “Small Beer Press?”

First I searched Literary Marketplace’s database and found no listing of them. Then I searched Yahoo and did find Small Beer Press. They only accept paper manuscripts and queries and they promise to read all submissions, thus I think they’re a very small organization.
Small Beer Press:
Literary Marketplace: No listing. See link below:

6. I really liked Neil Gaiman’s ‘Good Omens. What other authors or titles might I like?

I used Novelist to find some books that this patron might like. Under similar authors, my search yielded nine titles. The first five are: Gil’s All Fright Diner by L. Martinez, Shades of Grey by J. Fforde, Sacre Bleu by C. Moore, Gravity’s Rainbow by T. Pynchon and four more. The Author Read-alikes included Michael Chabon, Steven Milhauser, Clive Barker, Charles DeLint, Stephen King and four more.

I like that each author or title is followed by a succinct explanation for the suggestion as well as the person who provided the suggestion. I consider this source reliable because my professor recommends it and both the UICU and Northbrook libraries subscribe to it.

Reader’s Online Advisory offered five authors that Gaiman fans might enjoy. To find title read-alikes, I had to click on Gaiman’s name and then the title. The sidebar didn’t offer this choice so at first I didn’t think Title read-alikes were availab.e
“Neil Gaiman or Good Omen Read-alikes.” (2014). Novelist. Web Retrieved March 24, 2014.
“Neil Gaiman or Good Omen Read-alikes.” Web Retrieved March 26, 2014.

7. Does the 11th edition of the Guide to Reference Books recommend the Bopp & Smith text used in this class? Speculate as to why or why not.
It lists this book, but doesn’t recommend our text but it does list it. I thought I’d see if it recommends other reference texts and I found the page (see next page). My best guess is that as a text, this isn’t a book that a library would seek to acquire for its collection or that some of the contributors may be editors for this guide.

My favorite source this week was Novelist because I could spend all day reviewing the various recommendations. It is easy to use and intriguing. I thought the Literary Marketplace had a poor, outdated web design also it didn’t yield Small Beer Press.


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Peony in Love


Lisa See’s novel Peony in Love is rather odd because about a quarter of the way into the story the protagonist dies. I wondered what was going on and how the story would continue and then I learned that most of the story is the story of a ghost, a hungry ghost.

Young Peony is the daughter of a well to do nobleman, who apparently loves his daughter and encourages her to become literate. Like all females, Peony’s forbidden to interact or even seen males outside her family. She’s eagerly preparing for her arranged marriage when her father hosts a multi-night performance of a Chinese Opera The Peony Pavilion. The women can watch from behind a screen separated from the men in the audience. The first night Peony slips out of the women’s area and encounters Ren, a dashing young man. They talk. They gaze lovingly into each others eyes. They pledge to see each other the next night.

Now Peony’s done for. She can only dream of Ren and after her second rendezvous becomes love sick. She won’t eat or sleep fearing that she’ll never be able to be with her true love. The doctor can do nothing and she wastes away, not knowing till after her family dresses her emaciated body in her wedding clothes and abandons her outside the family compound to waste a way and die outside, that her arranged husband was Ren. Custom demanded that the young girl die outside the family home to avoid bringing bad luck to the family. Sorrow and confusion result in Peony’s funeral tablet not getting properly dotted with ink so she’s left as a hungry ghost, doomed to wander the earth without peace.

Thus begins Peony’s haunting of Ren and his subsequent wives. Readers learn of the imaginative and rich beliefs the Chinese held about ghosts, how they must be fed and treated, how they can insinuate themselves into the lives of the living despite the clever crooked bridges that keep them out.

Readers also learn about the history of women writers during the thirty years when the Manchus defeated the Ming dynasty. It was a time of chaos and one good thing, perhaps the only one, was that during this upheaval men were so distracted by the political and social upheaval, women were allowed to venture outside, explore their surroundings, gather, discuss and write. Many women, whose ghosts Peony meets, were successful, published authors.

While there were times when I found it hard to care about the “life” of a ghost or what would happen to her ancestral tablet, I do applaud See’s creativity. I was able to keep reading, though I wasn’t as concerned with the ghost heroine as I had been with See’s flesh and blood ones. Still I recommend this novel, which makes the history of China come alive, to any lovers of the genre.

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Posted by on April 18, 2014 in historical fiction


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From The Writer’s Almanac

It’s the birthday of the writer who said, “My advice to you is not to inquire why or whither but just enjoy your ice cream while it’s on your plate.” Thornton Wilder (books by this author), born in Madison, Wisconsin (1897). His father was a diplomat, so Wilder and his four brothers and sisters moved back and forth between Asia and the United States. His parents were supportive, but sometimes overbearing. They dictated what Wilder did with his time, and made him work on farms in the summer so that he would be more well-rounded. They decided where he would go to college: to Oberlin, in Ohio, and then to Yale.

After some time in Rome, Wilder got a job teaching French at a boys’ boarding school. In 1926, Wilder spent the summer at MacDowell Colony, a writers’ retreat in New Hampshire, and he started work on his second novel. It was set in the Spanish colonial era of the 18th century — the story of a bridge that collapses in Lima, Peru, while five people are crossing it. The collapse is witnessed by a Franciscan friar, who becomes obsessed by the tragedy and tries to figure out why those five people had to die. Wilder finished it less than a year later and sent it off to his publisher, who almost turned it down, complaining that it was written “for a small over-cultivated circle of readers.” But when The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1927) was published, it was an immediate success. It won the 1928 Pulitzer Prize, and by that time, it had sold nearly 300,000 copies and been through 17 printings.

Wilder earned enough from The Bridge of San Luis Rey to quit his job and build a house for himself, his parents, and his sisters in Hamden, Connecticut. He called it “the house the bridge built.” That house was his official residence for the rest of his life.

In 1962, Wilder was 65 years old, a famous writer. He was best known for his plays, like his Pulitzer-winning Our Town (1938) and The Matchmaker (1955), which was adapted into the musicalHello, Dolly!. He had not written a novel for almost 20 years. He was tired of being in the limelight, and he wanted to escape his comfortable life in Connecticut, so Wilder got in his Thunderbird convertible and headed southwest. The car broke down just outside of Douglas, Arizona, a town on the Mexican border, and that’s where Wilder stayed for a year and a half. He was happy to be somewhere where nobody knew much about him or his writing. He rented an apartment with one bed for himself and one for all his papers. During the days he wrote, read, and took walks, and in the evenings he hung around the bar asking questions — so many questions that everyone called him “Doc” or “Professor.” When he left Douglas at the end of 1963, he had a good start on a novel. In 1967 he published it as The Eighth Day, and it won a National Book Award.

He said, “There’s nothing like eavesdropping to show you that the world outside your head is different from the world inside your head.”

And: “The test of an adventure is that when you’re in the middle of it, you say to yourself, ‘Oh, now I’ve got myself into an awful mess; I wish I were sitting quietly at home.’ And the sign that something’s wrong with you is when you sit quietly at home wishing you were out having lots of adventure.”

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Posted by on April 17, 2014 in American Lit, writers, Writers' Almanac



From the Writer’s Almanac

zolaIt’s the birthday of of writer Émile Zola (books by this author), born in Paris in 1840. His father was an Italian engineer, and he died when Émile was seven, leaving the family to get by on a small pension. Émile’s mother hoped he would become a lawyer, but he failed the qualifying examination, and so he took a series of clerical jobs. He also wrote literary and art reviews for newspapers.

In his early career, Zola generally followed the Romantic Movement in literature, but he later began a writing style he dubbed naturalism, for which he is best known. He defined naturalism as “nature seen through a temperament” and was inspired by Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (1839) to apply scientific principles of observation to the craft of fiction. Between 1871 and 1893, he wrote a 20-novel series called Les Rougon-Macquart about different members of the same fictional family during France’s Second Empire. He wrote of this project: “I want to portray, at the outset of a century of liberty and truth, a family that cannot restrain itself in its rush to possess all the good things that progress is making available and is derailed by its own momentum, the fatal convulsions that accompany the birth of a new world.” The most famous books from the cycle are The Drunkard (1877), Nana (1880), and Germinal (1885).

He was also involved in the famous Dreyfus affair, in which a Jewish army officer, Alfred Dreyfus, was wrongfully accused of passing military secrets to Germany and imprisoned on Devil’s Island. Evidence later came out that strongly implicated another man, but the evidence was suppressed to protect the original verdict. Zola published an open letter on January 13, 1898, entitled J’Accuse…!, on the front page of Paris daily L’Aurore. In it he accused the French army of obstruction of justice and anti-Semitism. He was convicted of criminal libel on February 7, but fled to England before he could be imprisoned, wearing only the clothes on his back. The following year, the government offered him a pardon, which he accepted, even though doing so implied that he was guilty. He was finally exonerated of all charges in 1906, four years after his accidental death of carbon monoxide poisoning from a stopped-up chimney.

I want to read Émile Zola’s A Lady’s Paradise.

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Posted by on April 2, 2014 in writers, Writers' Almanac


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Homework: Geography

old map

This week’s topic for my Library Science class was geography. I thought it would be easy, but it took hours and hours. We’re not supposed to use Google or Wikipedia, and while I see their faults, sometimes they offer a quick step to finding the right answers. The databases practically hide atlases. The trouble is ‘atlas’ also appears in so many book titles, fiction and non-fiction.

1. Where is Dutch?

According to The Columbia Gazetteer of the World there are several places with Dutch in their names: Dutch Antilles, Dutch Bay, Dutch East Indies, Dutch Guiana, Dutch Harbor-Unalaska, Dutch Island, Dutch New Guinea, Dutch West Indies. The Columbia Gazetteer of the World has details about each of these places.

According to MIT’s START, there’s a Dutch, West Virginia. I verified this by going to x, which was listed on IPL. There is a Dutch (and Dutch Town and Dutchman) in West Virginia.

I found START by exploring IPL (see question 2). I consider it a reliable source because of MIT’s reputation for excellence in scholarship.

“Dutch.” (2014). START. MIT. Retrieved from on March 17, 2014

“Dutch.” (2014). Global Gazetteer. Retrieved from on March 17, 2014.

2. How do you pronounce Tooele? Where is it?

I first looked in the Merriam Webster Geographic Dictionary in Credo because I thought it would contain pronunciation information. However, Tooele wasn’t listed. Then I went to The Columbia Gazetteer of the World because it was mentioned in class. I did learn Tooele is a city and a county in Utah.

Because I want to become more familiar with IPL, I looked under its Geography listings. There I found MIT’s START, an answering service which uses natural language and artificial intelligence. There I got information on pronouncing Tooele (too-ella).

I trust The Columbia Gazetteer of the World because it was mentioned in class and it does offer basic information. MIT’s reputation for scholarly and technical excellence make me trust START.

“Tooele (city).” Columbia Gazetteer of the World Online. 2014. Columbia University Press. Retrieved from on 17 Mar. 2014.
“Tooele (county).” Columbia Gazetteer of the World Online. 2014. Columbia University Press. Retrieved from on 17 Mar. 2014.

“Tooele.” START. 2014. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved from on March 17, 2014.

3. I need to do a report on Peru and need to know about religion, language, population, imports & exports, etc. Evaluate the information for depth & currency.

I wanted to investigate Culturegrams so I used the Northbrook Public Library’s subscription. Culturegrams provided facts on all the information needed. To find the import and export data, I had to go to “Graphs and Tables,” which had that information and allows users to customize their presentation of data. They also have a kids’ edition, slideshows, interviews, recipes and much more. For quick facts and brief descriptions, Culturegrams is easy to use and offers a lot of information. The PDF World Report is 8 pages long.

The problem with currency is that each country’s section doesn’t have a definite date or specify when the information, e.g. population was obtained. The site does explain that collecting data from some countries takes more time than others. This is true and would be a issue with any source.

“Peru.” CultureGrams Online Edition. ProQuest, 2014. Web. 16 Mar 2014.

4. Are there any fjords in the U.S.? If so, where?

I went to the U.S. Geological Survey and found that there are fjords in Alaska. Several documents mention Kenai fjords, Glacial Bay fjords, and Alaskan fjords. The Columbia Gazetteer of the World lists one fjord in the U.S. so that wasn’t terribly useful.

The U.S. National Park Service has maps for the Kenai Fjords National Park.

“Fjords.” (2014). The Columbia Gazetteer of the World

“Fjords.” (2014). U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved from on March 17, 2014/

“Kenai Fjords National Park.” (2014). U.S. National Park Service. Retrieved from on March 17, 2014

5. What is the literacy rate in Fiji? How does the literacy rate compare with other Polynesian countries?

According to the CIA World Factbook, Fiji’s 2003 literacy rate is 95.5% for men and 91.9% for women. The data wasn’t very current. An article on Fiji’s government website mentioned that the 2011 UNESCO literacy rate for Fiji was 94%. However, UNESCO’s website does not show a figure for Fiji in 2011 on its website.

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, “Polynesia encompasses a huge triangular area of the east-central Pacific Ocean. The triangle has its apex at the Hawaiian Islands in the north and its base angles at New Zealand (Aotearoa) in the west and Easter Island (Rapa Nui) in the east. It also includes (from northwest to southeast) Tuvalu, Tokelau, Wallis and Futuna, Samoa (formerly Western Samoa), American Samoa, Tonga, Niue, the Cook Islands, French Polynesia (Tahiti and the other Society Islands, the Marquesas Islands, the Austral Islands, and the Tuamotu Archipelago, including the Gambier Islands [formerly the Mangareva Islands]), and Pitcairn Island.”

You can view a chart and interactive world map of literacy rates on UNESCO’s website. To compare the rates you can get a rough idea from the map considering that Polynesia is formed by a triangle with Hawai’i, New Zealand and the Easter Island as its corners or by selecting the countries listed by Encyclopedia Britannica and using UNESCO’s data.

I trust Encyclopedia Britannica as a well known, accurate encyclopedia. The CIA World Fact Book is thorough and well respected. UNESCO is a well known non-government organization and part of the UN that focuses on education and culture. I have never used the Fijian government’s website before, but believe it’s good practice to go to direct sources.

“ACS Girls Urged to Bridge Literacy Gap.” The Fijian Government, 29 Nov. 2013. Web. Retrieved from on March 20, 2014.

“International Literacy Data.” (2013). UNESCO. Web Retrieved from on March 20, 2014.

“Literacy.” (2014). CIA World Factbook. Retrieved on March 20, 2014 from

“Polynesian culture.” Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2014. Web. 20 Mar. 2014.

6. Choose two geographical points. Calculate traveling directions between the two points using at least two different services. Compare & evaluate the results.

I chose Northbrook, IL and Montreal Canada. First I tried Rand McNally, but it couldn’t provide information for Canada. Then I went to Mapquest, which I’ve used before. According to Mapquest the trip is 869.91 miles and would take 13 hr., 52 min., based on current traffic.
I haven’t used Bing, Microsoft’s search engine much, so I tried it. The distance Bing came up with is 874.8 miles and a travel time of 13 hr. 42 min. (10 minutes faster than Mapquest’s time, though Bing’s distance is 10 miles farther.

Until about 30 miles into Montreal the routes were identical. I’ve never been to Montreal so I can’t say which is better, but I’m satisfied with these routes.

Finally, I compared this information with Google Maps, which offered two driving routes and showed the route a plane would take. One route would be 14 hrs and 12 min. and the other 14 hrs. 45 min.

By looking at the maps themselves it seems that the routes are comparable, though the driving times differ by an hour. I’d suggest the patron take all these maps and ask whomever they’re visiting or their hotel in Montreal to recommend the best route after they’ve gotten on Canadian Hwy 401, which all three use.

“Northbrook – Montreal.” Web. Retrieved on March 16, 2014.
“Northbrook – Montreal.” Web. Retrieved on March 16, 2014.
“Northbrook – Montreal.” Google Maps. Web. Retrieved on March 16, 2014.

7. Can you help me find examples of how cultures celebrate with food?

St. Joseph's Day March 19th

St. Joseph’s Day March 19th

You can use our subscription to Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary available through Gale Virtual Reference Library. Look in the General Index at the bottom of the “About this book page.) Under food there are numerous references to food used in celebrations. I trust this resource because I’ve looked through it carefully and both Northbrook Public Library and the Univ. of Illinois subscribe to it.

Gale Virtual Reference Library also has Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia, a four volume encyclopedia covering hundreds of cultures. Under each country or ethnicity, there’s a section called Special Occasions.
National Geographic’s website has a good slideshow with information on how food is used in 10 different holidays worldwide. I’m very familiar with national Geographic as an excellent source of cultural information with photos and brief descriptions.
NPR had a story with pictures today (March 20th) about the food used to celebrate Persian New Year.
This sounds like a school assignment and if it was, I’d suggest a few nonfiction books,
such as:

Kids Around the World Celebrate: The Best Feasts and Festivals From Many Lands
Jones, Linda
Introduces a variety of festivals celebrated around the world. Includes recipes and hands-on activities to give a taste of what it is like to be part of a feast or ceremony in another country.

Food and Festivals of China
Liao, Yan
An accurate, comprehensive, and balanced understanding of China, past and present through food and festivals

Festival Foods
Vaughan, Jenny
Presents recipes for foods associated with various festivals and holidays around the world.

Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary: Detailing More Than 3,000 Observances from All 50 States and More Than 100 Nations. Ed. Cherie D. Abbey. 4th ed. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 2010. 47. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 20 Mar. 2014.

Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia. Ed. Ken Albala. Vol. 3: Asia and Oceania. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, 2011. 73-81. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 20 Mar. 2014.

Persian New Year’s Table Celebrates Nature’s Rebirth Deliciously. (March 20, 2014). NPR. Retrieved from on March 20, 2014.

World Celebration Foods. (2014). National Geographic. Web. Retrieved from on March 20, 2014.


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From The Writer’s Alamanc

It’s the birthday of lexicographer Henry Watson Fowler (books by this author), born in Tonbridge, Kent, England (1858). He studied at Oxford and taught Latin, Greek, and English at a boys’ school in northwest England for 17 years, then resigned and moved to the island of Guernsey in the English Channel, built himself a one-room cottage, and began living like a hermit. Though he spent all his time writing essays and produced enough to fill two book-length manuscripts, he could not succeed in getting them published. He then came up with the idea to write “a sort of English composition manual, from the negative point of view, for journalists & amateur writers.” Collaborating with his brother on the work for Oxford University Press, he wrote The King’s English (1906), which begins:

“Anyone who wishes to become a good writer should endeavour, before he allows himself to be tempted by the more showy qualities, to be direct, simple, brief, vigorous, and lucid.”

The first chapter, titled “Vocabulary,” lays out the following principles:

“Prefer the familiar word to the far-fetched. Prefer the concrete word to the abstract. Prefer the single word to the circumlocution. Prefer the short word to the long. Prefer the Saxon word to the Romance.”

The book was a success and he was commissioned to produce The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English, which appeared in 1911. His biggest success, however, was A Dictionary of Modern English Usage (1926), a collection of common mistakes in English that Fowler organized into categories, such as “Battered Ornaments,” “Love of the Long Word,” “Sturdy Indefensibles,” “Swapping Horses,” and “Unequal Yokefellows.”

T.S. Eliot said, “Every person who wishes to write ought to read A Dictionary of Modern English Usage … for a quarter of an hour every night before going to bed.”

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Posted by on March 10, 2014 in Writers' Almanac


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Review: American Eras Primary Sources

American Eras Primary Sources fills a niche that encyclopedias, almanacs, books, and articles can’t. This multi-volume set “reproduces full text or excerpts of primary sources that illuminate a particular trend, event, or personality important to [the] understanding of the time period. Each volume includes about one hundred entries organized into topical chapters” (Parks, 2013). By examining one volume in the electronic version covering the Civil War and Reconstruction, 1860-1877, I will describe and evaluate the series.

The volume begins with section called “Using Primary Sources” which includes an explanation of what a primary source is and advises readers on how to approach the use of such sources to avoid faulty reasoning. Next there’s an eclectic chronology of world events, which provides an interesting perspective that a history book may not. For example, this chronology lists major natural disasters, military battles, treaties (e.g. the First Geneva Convention protecting the rights of war prisoners), fashion trends and firsts such as the first indoor ice hockey game, which was played in 1875 in Canada.

anti slave alpha bet

The heart of American Eras Primary Sources is the primary sources organized in categories such as the arts, business, government and politics, communications, law, fashion, science, medicine, social trends, and education. Each category begins with an overview and chronology to provide context. Each entry lists basic information on the creator of the primary source, introduces the item. This volume includes and describes Currier and Ives prints, recipes, patents, illustrations, poetry, photos of Grand Central Station, text from the children’s book The Anti-Slave Alphabet, sheet music, military orders and more. After each entry there is a short passage describing its significance and a list of further resources including websites with click-able links.

The end of the volume contains a general index and primary source type index. Entries may be viewed as text or PDF. Users may easily email or download entries for further examination.

sheet music

American Eras Primary Sources contains a wide variety of sources that illuminate disparate aspects of American society thereby expanding users’ understanding of the era. Given that an electronic version doesn’t take up shelf space, I would have liked more entries particularly sources from lower level Civil War officers and representatives of minorities other than women and African Americans who are included, but mainly in the conventional ways, i.e. as housewives, suffragettes or slaves. Including sources written in languages other than English with translations would make this important resource even more comprehensive. Still history buffs, students and researchers will find this book highly valuable.

Verdict: American Eras Primary Sources offers a unique perspective on history and should be a part of any public, secondary school or university library collection.

Check this out at your public library if you like history at all!

Works Cited

American Eras Primary Sources. Ed. Rebecca Parks. Vol. 2: Civil War and Reconstruction, 1860-1877. Detroit: Gale, 2013. [0]. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 26 Feb. 2014.


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Mrs. Pollifax on the China Station

pollifax chinaI really like the idea of a woman who qualifies for a senior discount working undercover for the CIA, but Mrs. Pollifax on the China Station is a book that’s easy to put down. In fact, it took me months to read, though the prose is easy enough. The characters just didn’t grab me, nor did the plot.

Mrs. Pollifax on the China Station relates the story of CIA operative Mrs. Pollifax whom the CIA sends on a tour of China to work with another (unknown for much of the book) spy to help rescue an inmate of a Chinese labor camp. Like an Agatha Christie book, an assorted group is assembled and it’s all very gentile. Only the readers, Mrs. Pollifax and two others know that a big adventure is to come. It’s definitely a story Raymond Chandler would hate, as his essay “Simple Art of Murder” indicates. It’s got the tone of The Triple Petunia Murder Case, or Inspector Pinchbottle to the Rescue. In other words, it’s old fashioned and stodgy. The ending has surprises, but they come out of the blue and the pacing of the end is off. It’s as if the author got tired or a deadline crept up on her and she had to end immediately so she could start the next such story.

All in all, it’s not a great book, but not a bad one either.

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Posted by on February 10, 2014 in fiction


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Graphic Novel: Sign of Four

sign of 4

The Sign of Four, a graphic novel adapted by Ian Edginton and illustrated by I.N.J. Culbrand, provides a faithful version of the Arthur Conan Doyle story. Like all the Sherlock stories I’ve read, it’s a quick read that engages from the start. The illustrations look very modern in their style. It took me awhile to get used to a Sherlock with a Jay Leno chin, but it didn’t bother me.

Unless you’re pressed for time, make sure you read the original. This is fine, but not great.

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Posted by on February 7, 2014 in British Lit, classic, graphic novel


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Word(s) of the Week

I’m taking a course in Reference services in grad school. Our first assignment focused on dictionaries. Here’s a part of what I had to find:

1. What is a ‘trustafarian’?  Evaluate the authority of the source you used to locate this definition.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘trustafarian’ as: A wealthy young (white) person with a bohemian lifestyle, typically one who adopts aspects of the appearance and culture of other ethnic groups (esp. Rastafarians) and lives in or frequents a fashionable, multicultural area. Freq. mildly derogatory. Also as adj.

I first tried the slang dictionary on UICU’s library’s website, but found no results. Since I expect OED to have almost every word and impeccable accuracy, I went there. I like that it defined this word, gave sample sentences and states that it’s somewhat derogatory, which helps a patron understand its use more completely.

“Trustafarian, n. (and adj.)”. OED Online. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2013. Web. (accessed on February 3, 2014)

2. What is samizdat literature?  Where did the term come from?  When was it first used in the English language? Where was it first used?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, samizdat literature is: The clandestine or illegal copying and distribution of literature (orig. and chiefly in the U.S.S.R.); an ‘underground press’; a text or texts produced by this. Also transf. and attrib. or as adj. Phr. in samizdat, in this form of publication.

Samizdat comes from Russian and was first used in 1967 in The London Times as shown below:

1967   Times 6 Nov. (Russia Suppl.) p. xxii/4   A vast and newly educated [Soviet] not pass around the precious samizdat (unpublished) manuscripts.

Since the question asked for etymological information, I immediately went to the OED, which I learned to use as an undergraduate. It’s a favorite dictionary of mine and well known for its etymology.

“Samizdat, n.”. OED Online.</cite Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2013. (accessed February 1, 2014).

3. What does IMHO stand for?  Does it have multiple meanings?
According to several dictionaries IMHO stands for “in my humble opinion.” Gale Virtual Reference offers more terms:

Idiots Manage High Office
I Make Humungous Overstatements
Inane Marketing Hold-Over
In My Honest Opinion
In My Humble Opinion [Internet language] [Computer science]

Internet Media House
Inventory of Mental Health Organizations [Department of Health and Human Services] (GFGA)

I searched Credo and found Webster’s New World & Trade Computer Dictionary had a definition. Since “Webster’s” is a name that is no longer copyright protected I wasn’t sure of the source’s credibility, but I was curious about a dictionary of computer terms. Since the patron wondered about multiple meanings I wanted to insure I found all possibilities. Gale Virtual Reference, which I found through Credo and therefore trust, offered a number of meanings, which should satisfy the patron.

“IMHO.” Acronyms, Initialisms & Abbreviations Dictionary.  Ed. Kristin B. Mallegg. 44th ed. Vol. 2. Detroit: Gale, 2011. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. (accessed February 3, 2014.)

“IMHO.” In Webster’s New World & Trade; Computer Dictionary. Hoboken: Wiley, 2003. Web. (accessed February 3, 2014.)

4. What can you tell me about onychotillomania?

According to American Heritage Medical Dictionary, which I accessed through, it’s a noun referring to “a tendency to pick at the fingernails or toenails.” Stedman’s Medical Dictionary confirmed this definition and added that it’s derived from Greek.

Since the term sounds psychological, I consulted a medical dictionary. First I tried because I have never used it and I want to investigate as many sources as possible during this course. While I got a short definition, I wasn’t sure of so I accessed the ebook version of Stedman’s Medical dictionary through UICU’s library. I trust that they offer an accurate medical dictionary.

“Onychotillomania. (n.d.). American Heritage Medical Dictionary. Web. n.d.[accessed February 3rd, 2014].

“Onychotillomania.” Stedman’s Medical Dictionary, 28th Ed. Stedman, Thomas Lathrop. Philadelphia : Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. 2003. Web. [accessed February 3rd, 2014].

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Posted by on February 5, 2014 in words


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