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Check It Out

Find a listing of the latest arrivals of books, audio and video items at the Wauwatosa Library, as well as information on upcoming events and staff suggestions for timely information you can use every day on the library's blog.

Arctic Survival

Creatures need more than hardiness and strength to survive the Arctic winters.  Adaptability is the most important trait, although group cooperation is an important secondary quality, especially for people.  Jack London’s short story, To Build a Fire, illustrates what happens to a human alone in the frozen North.   

The Lamp, the Ice and a Boat called Fish, a picture book by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, tells a gripping survival story connected with the doomed Canadian Arctic Expedition of 1913 led by Vilhjalmur Stefansson.  One of the ships, the Karluk, became trapped in the pack ice and drifted for four months towards Siberia.  Ice crushed the Karluk in the middle of January, forcing the crew and passengers to abandon ship.  Eight men died during the 100 mile trek across the ice to the uninhabited Wrangel Island.  Three more men perished before the survivors were rescued in April.  An Inuit hunter, his wife and their two small daughters were among the twelve survivors.  They even managed to save the ship’s mascot, a cat.  This family exhibited both adaptability and cooperation.   

The Inuit are one among a number of people who make their home in the Arctic.  Others include the Inupiat and Yupik in North America and the Chukchi, Nenet, Yakuts and Saami in Eurasia.  Hunting, fishing and reindeer herding are their main occupations. They greatly depend upon the native animals for food, clothing and shelter.   

Animals of the Arctic show the same adaptability as Arctic people.  Arctic squirrels, foxes, hares and lemmings have shorter ears, tails and legs than their relatives in warmer climates to reduce their exposure to frost bite.   Arctic hares group together to keep warm, feed and for protection from enemies.  Musk oxen lie down together to deflect the wind and share body heat.  Musk oxen and ground squirrels half hibernate through the cold, dark winters.  Polar bears, Arctic foxes, hares and ermines have white hair that reflects body heat back to their bodies and each hair contains air spaces that keep them warm.  Many Arctic animals are white or turn white in the winter for camouflage.  Polar bears, seals and walruses have a layer of blubber that insulates them in the winter and is an energy store when food is scarce.  Perhaps the most interesting adaptation is that of the woolly bear, a caterpillar that produces anti-freeze type chemicals to prevent ice from forming inside its body during long periods of winter inactivity. 

The theme for December in the Wauwatosa Children’s Library is “Arctic Explosion”.  For more information, please call the Children’s Library: 414-471-8486. 

The Nutcracker-A Holiday Tradition

The Nutcracker has become, over the years, probably the most popular ballet ever written and an annual holiday favorite. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky wrote the music for the ballet during the years 1891 and 1892, but a star-studded cast of talented and creative people contributed to the birth and popularity of this ballet.

 To begin with, Ivan Vsevolozhsky, the Director of the Imperial Theatres in Russia from 1881-1898, commissioned the ballet and designed the original costumes.  He was anxious to get Marius Petipa, the renowned Imperial Ballet Master, and Tchaikovsky to work together on another ballet (Sleeping Beauty, a product of their collaboration, had been a huge success in 1890).   He proposed a ballet based on the story “ L’Histoire d’un Casse Noisette” , “The Story of a Hazelnut-Cracker”, by Alexander Dumas (yes, the Three Musketeers Dumas).  Dumas’ story was itself an adaptation of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s dark fairy tale, “Nussknacker und Mausekonig”, “The Nutcracker and the King of the Mice”.  Dumas’ sweeter version of the story differs from Hoffmann’s fairy tale, but the basic story is the same: a young German girl dreams about a Nutcracker Prince and a fierce battle with a Mouse King. At first, Tchaikovsky wasn’t enthusiastic about the idea of writing this music but Vsevolozhsky convinced Tchaikovsky to accept the job by adding an opera to the commission.  After Tchaikovsky wrote the music, Petipa began to work on the choreography, however, he soon became ill and the work was taken over and completed by his assistant, Lev Ivanov.   The first performance of the ballet was held at the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg in December 1892.  Also on the program, was Tchaikovsky’s opera, Iolanta.  The ballet was not very well received by the public or critics.  Tchaikovsky died less than a year later, not knowing what a huge success the ballet would become.  Before the ballet’s premier, however, Tchaikovsky selected eight of the ballet’s dances to form the Nutcracker Suite, Op. 71a, intended for concert performance.  Performed and conducted by the composer in March 1892, the Nutcracker Suite became an instant success. 

Surprisingly, the complete ballet was not performed outside Russia until 1934 when it showed in England.  The first complete performance of the ballet in the United States was in 1944 by the San Francisco Ballet, choreographed by William Christensen.  This ballet company was the first to make the ballet an annual tradition.  In 1954, George Balanchine choreographed the ballet for the New York City Ballet.  His version of the Nutcracker has been performed in New York every year since.  The popularity of Balanchine’s Nutcracker contributed to making performances of the  ballet an annual event all over the world.   

There have been numerous variations of the Nutcracker over the years.  The glorious melodies and the intriguing fairy tale story, in all its forms, continue to capture the imagination and bring joy to audiences everywhere.  The Milwaukee Ballet is performing Michael Pink’s Nutcracker again this holiday season.  Hopefully, you can attend a performance.  The following list includes just some of the DVDs, CDs and books related to the Nutcracker you can find at the library.

In the Children’s Collection:
CDs
Nutcracker
Music by Tchaikovsky/ E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story adapted by Janet Schulman and read by Claire Bloom
Kit (CD and book)
J Schullman, Janet  
Baby’s First Nutcracker
Music from the ballet by Tchaikovsky performed by the London Symphony Orchestra
JCD 792.8 B119 
Books
Nutcracker Ballet by Melissa Hayden
Story of the ballet retold by Melissa Hayden/Illus. by Stephen T. Johnson
+792.8 H324h
Nutcracker by E.T.A. Hoffmann
Trans. by Ralph Manheim/Illus. by Maurice Sendak  
DVDs
Barbie and the Nutcracker (animated)
Barbie stars in the story of the popular ballet
Music by Tchaikovsky performed by the London Symphony Orchestra
Choreographed by Peter Martins
Nutcracker and the Mouseking (animated)
Story by Tatjana Ilyina and others based on the fairy tale by E.T. A. Hoffmann
Music by Peter Wolf/ Voices by Leslie Nielsen, Eric Idle and others 

In the Adult Collection:
 
CDs
Nutcracker
Complete ballet
Music by Tchaikovsky performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra
792 T22N
Orchestra Music. Selections
Music by Tchaikovsky performed by the Berliner Philharmoniker Orchestra
CD 1--Nutcracker suite, Op. 71a
785.1 T22 
Books
Best Tales of Hoffmann by E.T.A. Hoffmann
“Nutcracker and the King of Mice”
823 H67
Twelve Plays of Christmas: Traditional and Modern Plays for the Holidays
“Nutcracker and the Mouse-King” by E.T.A. Hoffmann
822.8 T917 Christmas 
DVDs
Nutcracker
Music by Tchaikovsky performed by the National Philharmonic Orchestra
American Ballet Theatre/Mikhail Baryshnikov, dancer and choreographer
792.842 N951
George Balanchine’s the Nutcracker
792.842 G293
Nutcracker: the Motion Picture
Music by Tchaikovsky performed by the London Symphony Orchestra
Pacific Northwest Ballet/Kent Stowell, choreographer
Production design by Maurice Sendak
792.842 N951k 

Books Make Great Gifts

     Books always make great gifts!  

Need a few suggestions?  Take a look at the books on display in the library and get some
ideas for people on your gift list. 

Adult books:

America, America by Ethan Canin
Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics: Fabulous Flavor From Simple Ingredients by Ina Garten
Chocolat by Stephan Lagorce
Christmas Stories ed. by Diana Tesdell
Eat, Drink and Be Merry: Poems About Food and Drink ed. by Peter Washington
Emily Post: Daughter of the Gilded Age, Mistress of American Manners by Laura Claridge
Garden Book for Wisconsin by Melinda Myers
Life is a Verb by Patti Digh
New York Times: the Complete Front Pages 1851-2008
Oxford Little Dictionary and Thesaurus
P.S.: Further Thoughts From a Lifetime of Listening
by Studs Terkel
Principles of Uncertainty by Maira Kalman
Shadow of Power by Steve Martini
Testimony by Anita Shreve
Travel Book: A Journey Through Every Country in the World by Lonely Planet Publications
  Wisconsin Community Treasures by Damon Neal and Linda Kusick
Work: the World in Photographs by Ferdinand Protzman
      

Children's Books:
    

As Good as Anybody
by Richard Michelson
Baby Signs: a Baby-Sized Introduction to Speaking with Sign Language by Joy Allen
Bad Kitty Gets a Bath by Nick Bruel
Bee and Me by Elle McGuiness
Birds on a Wire: a Renga 'Round Town by J. Patrick Lewis and Paul B. Janeczko
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules by Jeff Kinney
Drummer Boy by Loren Long
Go Big or Go Home by Will Hobbs
Horse by Malachy Doyle
Knitty Kitty by David Elliott
Light of the World: the Life of Jesus for Children by Katherine Paterson
Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears by Emily Gravett
McElderry Book of Greek Myths retold by Eric Kimmel
Monarch and Milkweed by Helen Frost
Mozart Question by Michael Morpurgo
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox
 



    

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