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It’s fitting this first post of 2017 should be about the enriching world of children’s books. But first, here’s a picture of one of my grandson’s showing us all how to greet the New Year!15390983_10210312667325616_8515486221660551798_n

Oh yeah and Yay!

Moving on-

Written by  Scotswoman,  Helen Bannerman, and first published by Grant Richards in October 1899, Little Black Sambo is not only one of the very first books I remember being fascinated by as a kid, it did the same for children all over the world for nearly 50 years. Then, the  book attracted uproars from those who had issues with the text and pictures.

Things is, was Helen Bannerman a lifetime ahead of herself? Why do I ask? That’s simple.

It’s a simple story: a boy with fancy clothes is caught by tigers who accept his clothes in lieu of eating the boy. The lions argue over who looks better in the new clothes, chase one another around a pole to get a different piece of clothing from the other and turn into a goo during the process. The tigers run so fast they heat up and melt.**

What Bannerman is describing is energy heat transfer-a solid becoming a liquid as a result. It’s a simple but remarkable thought. Of course, the boy  bringing the goo home so his mom can make pancakes out of it rockets the book up to yummy.

Today, this story just isn’t the warm and fuzzy book it was once thought to be. Time’s change and what we need to be thinking and reading about as people changes along with it.

Moving on—

Bonus picture:

 A one day pick of lemons this past fall.

A one day pick of lemons from my yard this past fall. Two kinds-small Meyer’s, large Meyer’s and a huge Pondarosa. My daughter makes a mean lemonade.

Books will never cease to surprise us if we can only find the time to read. Here’s one I’ve recommended before that will be well worth your effort: Collector of Moments. In my head it’s the Kafkaesque of easy on up to adult books. That’s right, you’ll find this book most often shelved in the children’s Easy section-a picture book- but it reads right on up to adult.collector-of-moments-lion2-1

An illustration from the book-did this picture help inspire the Life of Pi story?

You have to see it to believe it.

A bit like a Van Allsburg book, the NYT’s reviewed this 1999 publication, Collector of Moments , by Quint Buchholz:

“The unexpected details in the pictures demand equally imaginative acts of explanation. In addition, Buchholz often shows people looking at objects behind walls or through doors or even beyond the frame of the paintings — objects that viewers can’t literally see and must therefore envisage for themselves.

As the creator of images most interesting for what they don’t in fact show, Buchholz is himself an accomplished collector of moments. Not only does his book tell young readers things worth knowing about how to look at pictures, but the pictures themselves delightfully repay the kind of attention they invite viewers to give them.”


You have to see it to believe it.

You have to see it to believe it. The book is a surprise package for sure!

Cheers–Moving on to 2017-it’s all ahead of us now.

Franque 23*

*I’ve been a Library Specialist in the Alachua County Library District for the past 21 years.

Oh my!15390983_10210312667325616_8515486221660551798_n

** The version I was read had the boy and the tigers running around the tree….different takes.


The library district I work for, The Alachua County Library District in Florida, has made the national news? Usually when this happens we make feel good, happy days, we’re one of the ten best libraries in the country type of news. Not today.

To be specific, the story about our library district refers to a patron who claims our buying preferences are bias, tainted with a prejudice, a mess of a heap of spending that leans towards liberal material  purchases while giving the thumbs down to books or media that favors the conservative right.

The book in question is, Clinton Cash, the graphic novel version.  The headlines on the matter state that “A Florida Library Bans book….” Below is the actual immediate follow-up to the headline.

The Alachua County Library District denied Alachua County resident Ann Lhota’s request to make Clinton Cash: A Graphic Novel available to borrow.”

Let’s be clear—Not buying a book for the library shelves is a far cry from  banning a book, but there’s so much more that goes with this story, and none of it is being discussed in the news stories.  Not only has our library district not banned this book, we own ten or more copies of the book, just not the graphic novel format. The Alachua County Library owns this book.

It is relevant to note that only 60 libraries nation-wide have bought this book in the graphic novel format. Why? This  I can’t answer, but it’s clear that 99% of library purchase departments country-wide deem buying this book a poor use of tax payer’s money. This basically means the purchase departments for libraries across the county don’t think the graphic novel will circulated enough to be worth its cost. In our case, the hard print version of this book has not circulated well up to this date-that could change with all the commotion this so-called news story has created.

It’s also important to note the Alachua County library has actually bought 35 of 39 purchase requests this patron has made over the past two years. Actually, this is an astonishing number of purchase requests for any one patron to make within a two-year period. I think it nice that she is so motivated but it’s even more mind-blowing that our purchase department has bought such a high number of her book request! Why this one book is stuck in her craw I can’t say…but her complaints on this matter have been as highly motivated as her interest in submitting purchase requests.

Ann Lhots has complained to town commissioners,  to newspapers and to library officials about this decision to not, at this point, pick up one of her 39 purchase requests. Fellow sympathizer’s for her cause have sent e-mails from around the nation, some flat-out rude, laced with name calling, crude expressions and vile wishes. Why? We house over 250 thousand books in just one of eleven locations comprised within our library district-the issue is over one format of one book that we do own in another.

More to the point, why is this story national news? How bizarre.  Tsk-tsk to the papers that ran this story. Of course, the fuel to this over blown story lies within the motivation of those who wish to portray libraries as national hot beds of radical, liberal thinking.

It’s a common core belief of many on the Right or conservative side of politics that libraries should not be funded by tax dollars. Case in point.  Texas had the nation’s lowest state funding for its public libraries  when George Bush Jr. was its governor.  So yeah, people who might like us to carry the graphic novel version of, Clinton Cash, a book that leans ‘right’ when it comes to embracing Hillary Clinton’s downside, may well be among those who think libraries are ill-suited for the public cause.

The bottom line is pubic libraries have no agenda but to exist and to provide free and open access to any type of information-factual, entertaining, trendy, now or then, to every edge of knowledge or furthermost out there speculation. It’s all good if it’s information, that’s any public library’s unspoken motto.

Please go out and visit your public library; we love seeing patrons. The materials we provide are free to access and librarians across the country are available to help you locate what you hope to find. As for Ms. Lhota’s complaint, I would have expected a “Thank You for buying 35 of the 39 books I requested you buy,” instead. Or, at least a smile.

The papers running this story should have taken a broader look at the story before spending their hard-earned money on the ink it took to print.

See you in the public library.

Franque23–I’ve been a library Specialist for the past twenty-two years.

(click on the pics for a bigger picture.)

Yes, I’ll admit, I’ve always wanted to play the Mad-Hatter in a puppet show. This is why it is the Mad Hatter’s tea party that s-l-o-w-s down the Hare as I wrote the puppet show adaptations of The Tortoise and the Hare. Well for that, but also because I couldn’t think of how watching a Hare sleep under and tree or romp through flowers could be made into an interesting, entertaining script…..Voila–the Mad Hatter’s tea party was born again, sorta.

We were ready-----(Tina, Odette and Ann-she signed the show- line up with me wishing they could run away

We were ready—–(Tina Bushnell, Odette Hinson and Ann Lozotte(-she signed the show-) line up with me wishing they could run away…

It can be painful learning a show...and sometimes you just gotta laugh since there's no way any of it will work out.

It can be painful learning a show…and sometimes you just gotta laugh since there’s no way any of it will work out.(practice while thinking of calling in sick on the day of the show)

It’s quite an ordeal to pre-plan the adaptation, write the script, order needed  items, build the set and props, practice, direct and then perform the puppet show. In all, we had over 100 hours of time put into this production…and I was sorry that 50 or so children who hadn’t pre–signed up and reserved a spot in the audiences for either one of two “Sold-out” free shows had to be turned away.

The script was full of puns: “Do you have money for Hare-fare?”; “Here’s a Hare-brush”;”Let’s not split, Hares”; and “Hare today; gone tomorrow” These were just  a few-

The Hatter meant it when he said, "Let's look OVER the menu."

The Hatter meant it when he said, “Let’s look OVER the menu.”

Hare: “But I can’t read what’s on the menu!”(by just looking over it)

Hatter: “Excellent idea; we’ll eat what ‘s on the menu!”

In one of the funnier parts, the waiter uses a sight gag of large portions for the Hatter and small portions for the Hare.

Large lettuce leaf and tomato for me

First a large carrot for me and a five CARAT ring for the starving Hare. Then, a large lettuce leaf and tomato for me


small tomato with bite out of it for the Hare

Small tomato with bite out of it for the Hare

The bit here ends when the Hatter pretends to eat his menu, now folded around the food items as if it were a sandwich-er, on the menu.

Hatter: Bon Appetit

Hare: Wait, I can’t eat this! ( The menu as a sandwich)

Hatter: But people always eat what’s on the Menu!

The waiter-played by Odette, changes into four or more nationalities as she returns with food to put”On” the menu, or delivers a large carrot for me and a five Carat diamond ring for the starving Hare etc. In all, I think Odette changed costumes about 8 times within a 35 minute program–that’s work.

In the beginning, the set was ready and quiet.

In the beginning, the set was ready and quiet.

Wait–in the beginning the people who’d be doing the play were determined,,,their talents came into play and helped define the roles they might do well.

Random thought:

Why didn't the term, Mosshead, take hold?  That all got me thinking -I guess it’s the same for Fox News Producers…they have to dice out who can do what for their shows.

So they had to decide what roll Megyn Kelly might best be suited for on their TV show....

So they had to decide what roll, Megyn Kelly, might best be suited for on their TV show….then make her toast, I mean host.

Maybe,  we all buy into what puppets tells us?

Anyway, for us the first act was all puppets….

Children buy into puppets ,,always.....

Children buy into puppets ,,always…..(Ann Lezotte signs)


Everything was set behind stage

lots of lines to keep track of

lots of lines to keep track of…

We always have a rocking time of it…

I first looked over the Hairy Hare name Harry and thought her a bit fuzzy-she explained she was hairy all over, which I thought an odd name...Then she said , "No I'm only Hairy." That name seemed no better.... "No" The Hare said. "I'm just Harry." This is why I called the Medic- obviously Hairy all over and Only Hairy were missing,, maybe in trouble,,,maybe hurt....

I first looked over  Hairy Hare name Harry and thought her a bit fuzzy-she explained she was hairy all over, which I thought an odd name…Then she said , “No I’m only Hairy.” That name seemed no better…. “No” The Hare said. “I’m just Harry.” This is why I called the Medic- obviously Hairy all over and Only Hairy had gone missing,, they could’ve been in trouble,,,maybe hurt….missing for sure

We kept the pace of puns going on throughout and  you can’t flip a phrase into humor if the first one isn’t said just right. That put pressure on us to remember the subtle twists of the script.

Of course we had a safety net made of endless confetti and horn blowers for each child.....

Of course we had a safety net made of endless confetti and horn blowers for each child at the play’s end…

In the end, it was. I found myself back stage with bending head realizing that after 21 years of doing puppet shows, I wouldn’t be doing them forever. Plus, one cast member had mentioned that maybe this was her last hurrah(the position in the puppet shows so filled with huge work is voluntary.) It all set me back- back to twenty years ago when I was 47 and new to the Library District.., young, limber, full of energy and so willing to go for it.  Then, I thought about how much I would miss doing these shows with the current cast members, how much they’d given to me, to the shows, and how wonderful they are. It was a moment of triumphant filled with a sense of loss for me.

“Are you alright?”

Tina’s sweet voice called from my left, startling me,  catching me in my retrospective moment-

“Yes.” I smiled. “I’m alright.”  I couldn’t go into how much Odette and Tina had meant to my efforts, our efforts, and how much I’d never forget the puppet shows, the laughter, or either of them. I owe them so much. I kept my thoughts private, until now.

I'' never forget the scenes

I’ll never forget the scenes–how about the tea cup?

But most of all, I’ll never forget the children’s faces, the laughter and joy we’ve managed to bring to them.

I know it a small thing-but this troupe has worked wonders...and I'm so proud of them.

I know it’s a small thing-but this troupe has worked wonders…and I’m so proud of them.


Cheers, and I’ve a few more shows left in me as long as the ‘creek don’t rise’…

Franque23 loves his troupe.

You know the type- the annoying workmate that smiles even in the morning, lends you two helping hands when all you asked for was one, continually makes the day better and makes you forget you wish it were over. I’m surrounded by the type-turkey’s every one of them.12279013_10208140762667012_8713307563898335197_n (1)

Odette’s turkey hat craft tortured old and young alike this year.AlachuaCountyLibraryDowntown_100kW to the Alachua County Library district.)The main, Headquarter’s branch is a big deal building, housing over 250,000 items, visited by 3,000 people on a slow day and checking out over 1 million items per year.

Sometimes, I just have to put one foot in front of the other and drag myself in to work with our rafter of Youth Service people. Imagine the whole flock being made up of people who like to help others on a daily basis, and it only gets worse. These liberrians( from the often used pronunciation, most seem to think we grow on trees.) like to share information, read, laugh, smile-never yell-stay pleasant, think proactively, design endless displays, tell stories during elaborate story hours presented throughout the county, and they like to nibble. Real Gobblers this group. In fact, I think we should call one table inside our office the official, Nibble Table-wait, the entire office-The Nibble Office. Better. In all, it’s a disgusting display of happiness around here-a nightmare montage of good feelings I must navigate through every working hour!

This is giving me an idea…..

images (23) Ya know how we have all those happy days like Thanksgiving, the Holidays(code for Christmas) Thank God for Parents day(wait-do we have one of these?) Anyway….what we need around here is an official crappy day -a cathartic day of the year, one left open for only complaints, grips, groans, pukey ideas, grumbling and saying what’s on our mind day. We could call it, The Colossal Crappy Day. But why stop at one, when we could have,say,,, four a year?!?!?!

Right now,  what’s amazing is that this post has nothing in it that even closely resembles what I meant to write about. No, this post is about the Library building I put on display, how much awful fun it was creating, and how many patrons regrettably enjoy it.12195848_1049487265082047_5704119365050262721_n

So yeah, it’s like a doll house, you can even find stacks of books and stuff by looking into the side windows or into the second story window.12191492_1049487311748709_2641903970150508098_n

I’m using the bright reflective neon paper that’s attached to the backside of the trees to get the added fall reflection look.


Have trees, have squirrels*(God’s motto.)…Well,  one thing’s certain-this squirrel’s not the only one who has a bunch of nuts around him.

red team winners

I ask you! Who are these people!

And my director(she’s really my supervisor, but, shhh, don’t mention that to her) keeps thinking of more to do, more to eat and stuff.1965012_786280751406619_7639099478551129472_n

She keeps an eye on me.


And really, all the gals I work with wear a bunch of hats on a daily basis- it’s that do this, do that, get stuff done attitude they all don that screws up many perfectly good, non-productive days.


Personally, I have to ask, why so many hats? It’s only one job!?!?!

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I’m your basic one hat sort of guy, period. (Pay no attention to the stuffed animals, puppets, clown shoes, tinsel or that other hat on my desk.)

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Okay, also pay no attention to maybe a second hat, or four, or the Grinch, the moose, the royal carriage, and the winged Pegasus you can’t see to boot. There, that’s as far as I take it-the rest is all hard work; end of story-sorta. Let the others do all the miserable laughing.

Merry Thanksgiving anyway, and enjoy the turkey’s-I do.


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Time to eat.

Book one of the Avatar magic Trilogy, Avatar Magic, and book two, The Code of Avatar Magic, and the final book of this trilogy, Survival, are on kindle now. Please enjoy this Sci-fi romance. I hope you buy the books; I hope you enjoy reading the books; I hope you will review the books; I hope you will share the books.

Book One:
Book Two:

Book Three:






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