Staff Review – Darwin’s Origin of Species 

Darwin’s Origin of Species 
by Janet Browne

 

I was looking for  a non-fiction book that I could read quickly, get some real knowledge from and really enjoy.  And I found it!

The Atlantic Monthly Press has published  books that are ‘biographies’ of world changing books from “The Bible” to “Das Kapital.” The biography that I chose was Janet Browne’s “Darwin’s Origin of Species.”   She writes about all the research that went into the planning and development of the book and the personality and dedication of the author. After working on the book for years, Charles Darwin’s book was finally published on November 24 in 1859 with the title:  “On the Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.”  He knew how controversial it would be. The concept that evolution (plants and animals changing slowly from generation to generation) and not divine creation  was put forward for all to debate. And they certainly did!

I loved Janet Browne’s short book (only 153 pages long!) It provides the background of the book, an intellectual biography of Charles Darwin, a summary of the controversy in Britain, and a followup of the twentieth century’s take on the book.  It has footnotes, a list of sources and suggested reading and a real index! It was a fast and inspiring read! Onward to “On the Origin of Species!” Or maybe Browne’s biography of Charles Darwin.

Many books in the series, “Books that Changed the World,” are in Ocean State Library Catalog.  Go on the catalog, from Title scroll down to Series and put in “Books that changed the World” for a complete list. – Charlotte

 

 

Staff Review – The Testaments

The Testaments is the rabidly anticipated sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale and I was eagerly counting off the days at the beginning of September until the launch date. Virtually everything about the book was shrouded in mystery. It would be set in Gilead, it would be 15 years after the close of the first book, and there would be three point of view characters. That was it. After over 30 years of wait time in between these works, some hype was felt, especially by me. I tried not to let it color my opinions, but it was extremely difficult.

One of the recurring stars of this dystopian drama is someone readers will  be familiar with if they have read the previous installment or seen the tv show: the taser-wielding Aunt Lydia,  the scourge of Gilead. Then there is Agnes. Agnes is a true child of Gilead who doesn’t remember any other way of life but she is fearful that she will be married off to the most powerful man that will have her. Last but certainly not least is Daisy. For this Canadian teenager her whole life and identity comes into question on what she believes is her 16th birthday.

While I enjoyed  this book, I don’t think that it has quite the same acidic punch that The Handmaid’s Tale possesses and I think that is mainly due to splitting up the narrative focus between three characters. The absence of June’s incredibly strong voice leaves a considerable void for the reader, but ultimately this book is  a well-written exploration of how life finds a way even under the darkest of regimes. Drawing inspiration from current politics, as always Atwood makes it very clear what her stance is and that alone makes this a delightful read. The Testaments also sprinkles in some additional details of the inner workings of Gilead and the true corruption and dysfunction that it takes  to make the sausage. It’s not just birthmobiles and punishing handmaids; the aunts are the keepers of genealogies and they ensure that there are new aunts to go on pilgrimage outside of Gilead.

I’m honestly  really hoping based upon what happened in this book, that there will be a sequel to this sequel coming down the pipeline. As Margaret Atwood herself puts it, “All good things come to she who waits.” – Katie

 

A Boy Called Bat – Elana K. Arnold

Kyera's Library

A Boy Called Bat (A Boy Called Bat, #1)

A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Boy Called Bat is a children’s chapter book about a boy that tries to convince his veterinarian mom to let him keep the skunk kit that she rescued. It is a very simple storyline without much to make it stand out other than the fact that Bat, Bixby Alexander Tam, has autism. The most beautiful part of this book is the fact that no one ever comes out and says it, but most of the people in the book just function around it as if there is nothing wrong with Bat – and there is nothing wrong with him. He just functions and thinks a little differently than his peers. That normalizing of autism was so beautiful.

His mother and even his sister are able to understand his idiosyncrasies and mold the world in a…

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Staff DVD Review

Disney’s new live action reboot of “Dumbo” is fun for the whole family, but I feel it lacks some of the key elements that deemed it a “classic.” Some of the parts from the original have been edited out to make it more appropriate for modern times, which is great, but I think deviating from the original storyline took away from the film as opposed to adding to it. All in all, it was a great film, but the original animated version from 1941 will always be THE classic. – Children’s Room Staff

Book Review

Rhode Island Memories: The Early Years, A Pictorial History
by The Providence Journal

I so enjoyed this book. I saw it advertised in the Sunday Providence Journal a few times so I ordered a copy from the library. It is a little smaller than a standard coffee table book, so it is easy to hold but that doesn’t affect the quality of the photographs. I was pleased that instead of each chapter being a photographer’s portfolio, or by the town, they split it up by core items like agriculture, education, recreation and street scenes. I was delighted to see so many photos from my hometown! Well done. -Kristin