Which way do we go?


Where would be without a Rand McNally atlas? Lost. When I grew up and vacation or road trip was mentioned, out came our Rand McNally atlas and we all would turn each page, dreaming of the perfect place to go. We wanted to go someplace that we had never been and wanted to know how to get there. Lot’s of ideas from a family with 6 kids! My parents guided us on how far we could go, how much money it would cost and it always worked out to be a great vacation…wherever it was!  So, thank you, Rand McNalley, for publishing your atlas on April 15, 1924. You have helped many people find their way to a great vacation spot for 90 years! Check with the help desk to find a Rand McNally today.






Dystopian Novels for Teens and Young Adults

In the last few years, dystopian novels have become a growing force in teen/young adult literature.  A dystopia is an alternate universe (often the future in our own world) that explores the worst case scenario, a world where society, government, technology and other factors combine to make survival an ongoing challenge.

Perhaps the best known of these series are The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Divergent by Veronica Roth, both of which have recently been made into feature films.

As we continue to be fascinated by the concept of humans struggling in a stark, strange, sometimes savage world, check out these dystopian series, available at your library:


Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare (1st book: City of Bones)

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Matched by Ally Condie

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Gone by Michael Grant

The Shadow Children by Margaret Peterson Haddix (1st book: Among the Hidden)

I Am Number 4 by Pittacus Lore

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

The Forest Of Hands And Teeth by Carrie Ryan

The Uglies by Scott Westerfield


Root, root, root for the home team


The arrival of spring means it’s time for baseball.  Baseball season is a favorite time of year for many, sitting on porches, listening to the game on the radio, watching on TV, or enjoying a game at the field with the family.  Here at the library, you can find books on your favorite baseball team, baseball parks around the country, baseball food, and of course, how to play baseball.  So it’s time for BATTER UP at the library



Celebrate the birds this spring


Are you a “birder”? Do you find yourself looking out the window to see what those birds are up to? Would you like to recognize a bird by its song? With temperatures warming and spring around the corner, it’s easy to become a bird watcher! It’s fun to see their springtime rituals. Their courting behaviors, nest building activities, and of course, their songs are all reasons to once again, venture outdoors.


At the Green Branch Library, http://greenbranch.akronlibrary.org/,we have the following resources and many, many more to help you identify birds and learn just what the birds in your neighborhood are up to!


Backyard birding : a guide to attracting and identifying birds / Randi Minetor. Contains 250 vibrant full-color photos capturing birds in stunning detail. Focus on top 24 birds found nationally as well as in Eastern and Western locations * Picture index of all the birds found throughout the book for easy reference


The joy of birding : a beginner’s guide / Kate Rowinski

…the ideal illustrated companion for becoming a successful bird watcher.

Backyard birding for kids : a field guide & activities / Fran Lee



Birding in Ohio / byTom Thomson with the assistance of 38 regional contributors.

“No one in Ohio is more familiar with areas to bird than Tom Thomson, and he has pulled this knowledge together to make birding more accessible and enjoyable for everyone.” – Richard B. Pierce, Chief, Ohio Division of Wildlife.


Going one step further, you can learn birds’ songs! Apps make this easy and are fun to use for this. Check out the review of iPhone apps on Cornell University’s: All About Birds Blog.  This blog also offers, a Bird Cam- you can view Great Blue Herons, Red-Tailed Hawks, and a family of Albatross,- Bird Guides and Birding Basics.

You can be creative with your observations and win a prize! You just need to enter Cornell’s Celebrate Urban Birds Challenge. http://celebrateurbanbirds.org/community/challenges/spring-2014/

This contest ends soon- March 31st so – get outside! Take a walk. Share your observations, such as birds courting, a goldfinch becoming yellow, a new nest. You may create artwork, a video, poetry, a dance, sculpture or a song. Prizes include Pennington Bird feeders, Opticron binoculars, bird sound CDs, posters, books, bird-guides, and more.


Another blog worth visiting for its beauty as well as its content is: http://redandthepeanut.blogspot.com/



This blogger lends an Ohio flavor to her writing as she hikes through woods and meadows around Cincinnati. Her artwork is remarkable and her photography simply stunning.

Finally, remember we have a great bird viewing area in our own backyard at Nimisila State Park in Portage Lakes State Park.  The reservoir is home to Bald Eagles, Osprey, Purple Martins, Loons and so many more active birds!


Fred Rogers (1928-2003): a fond remembrance


I recall coming home from school as a child and rushing in to watch Fred Rogers on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood change from a jacket to a cardigan and from dress shoes to sneakers while he sang “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”.  He was such a soothing presence on the screen at the end of a school day.  If he was still with us, he would have turned 86 today.

For more information on Fred Rogers:









Spring is here!


Winter boots are replaced with rain boots. Winter coats replaced with jackets. The snow-covered ground melts into squishy, mud to make way for flower blooms. The air becomes warmer. The anticipation builds. The front doors open. And that means……the kids will run WILD!

Here are some fun books to read to children to get them excited about the spring season.

Signs of Spring, by Colleen Dolphin

The Twelve Days of Springtime: A School Counting Book, by Deborah Lee Rose

Mud, by Mary Lyn Ray

Spring is Here! by Will Hillenbrand


The History of the Shamrock


Full of symbolism, this plant has mystical roots

by Michelle Gervais (Fine Gardening Website)

Shamrocks have been symbolic of many things over the years. According to legend, the shamrock was a sacred plant to the Druids of Ireland because its leaves formed a triad, and three was a mystical number in the Celtic religion, as in many others. St. Patrick used the shamrock in the 5th century to illustrate the doctrine of the Holy Trinity as he introduced Christianity to Ireland.

Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais

“Wearin’ o’ the green”

The shamrock became symbolic in other ways as time went on. In the 19th century it became a symbol of rebellion, and anyone wearing it risked death by hanging. It was this period that spawned the phrase “the wearin’ o’ the green”. Today, the shamrock is the most recognized symbol of the Irish, especially on St. Patrick’s Day, when all over the world, everyone is Irish for a day!

The original Irish shamrock (traditionally spelled seamróg, which means “summer plant”) is said by many authorities to be none other than white clover (Trifolium repens), a common lawn weed originally native to Ireland. It is a vigorous, rhizomatous, stem-rooting perennial with trifoliate leaves. Occasionally, a fourth leaflet will appear, making a “four-leaf clover,” said to bring good luck to the person who discovers it.

Grow your own shamrock

Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais

If you’d like to grow your own shamrock, you have a couple of options. You let the widely recognized white clover invade your lawn, or you can grow the Americanized version,Oxalis tetraphylla, the lucky clover. This is the plant you will usually find in gift shops in March.

Oxalis tetraphylla is a tender perennial in most parts of this country, hardy only in USDA Hardiness Zones 8 to 9. For this reason it is usually grown as a house plant, with a winter dormancy period. It needs bright light to thrive, as well as moist, well drained soil. When the plant begins to go dormant for the winter, keep the soil barely moist, and resume regular watering in the spring when the plant puts out new growth.



Remembering Walter Cronkrite


On March 6, 1981, Walter Cronkite sign off the CBS evening news for the final time.


Walter Cronkite is best known for his coverage of WWII, President Kennedy’s Assassination, and Vietnam War.

To learn more about Walter Cronkite, check out the following books:


A Reporter’s life by Walter Cronkite, Cronkite’s War by Walter Cronkite and Maurice Isserman, Cronkite by Douglas Brinkley



Gardening Display


Tired of the cold?  Ready for Spring and pretty flowers?  Do you know there’s grass under that snow but not sure what shape it’s in?

Then it’s time to come to Green Branch Library.  We have all the books you want on vegetable gardening, landscaping and flower gardening.

We also have books on container gardening and even how to make a water garden.  Check out our display.  If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, just ask, we can find it for you. Spring has Sprung here at Green Branch Library.




Ray’s Surface Noise



When I was growing up in East Canton in the mid 1960s, my father worked out of town during the week.  WAY out of town.  Indiana, to be exact.  That meant he would leave early Monday morning and come home late Friday evening, usually after us kids (myself and my older brother and sister) were in bed asleep.  So, the following morning I would always get up, run into my parents’ bedroom and  a) make sure my dad had come home the night before, and/or  b) wake him up.  On one particular morning in 1967 I ran into the bedroom and found, much to my surprise, an album I had been wanting by The Monkees.  He had brought it home for me and propped it up on the night stand, knowing I would see it when I came into the room the next morning.

This particular album was called Headquarters, and it was a kind of a big deal when it came out because it was played and sung entirely by The Monkees themselves.  As it turns out, the Monkees only sang on their first two albums, even on the songs written by Monkee Mike Nesmith.  Being five years old at the time, I wasn’t aware of this, and couldn’t have cared less.  I loved the show’s manic energy, and great music.  The problem was, they were apparently being passed off as a real band, which angered and embarrassed two of the Monkees in particular, Mike Nesmith and Peter Tork.  After an infamous incident at the Beverly Hills Hotel where Nesmith put his fist through the wall and threatened a Screen Gems executive, they were allowed to record their next album themselves.  And so they did.  It went straight to number one for one week, after which they were knocked down to second place by The Beatles Sgt. Pepper—but hey, EVERYBODY was second to The Beatles that summer (and for good reason).

After spotting this album on my dad’s night stand, I jumped up and down and squealed (something I still do when it comes to listening to certain albums, much to the embarrassment of my wife and the members of her couponing club), grabbed the album, woke my siblings and ran downstairs to put it on my mother’s record player.  It was one of those early 60s floor model types, with a big lift-up lid, revealing a record changer and a radio inside.  It also had a giant speaker that woofed out bass like nobody’s business.  You could really rattle the house when you cranked that sucker up.

I put the record on, and we gave it a listen.  Needless to say, I loved it.  Even at age five, I was reading the liner notes to see who played what.  Mike Nesmith played guitar and pedal steel, although I had no idea what that was at the time.  Peter Tork played guitar, bass and organ.  Mickey Dolenz played drums and guitar.  Davy Jones played percussion, and “jawbone”, whatever THAT was.

Three of the Monkees contributed original songs to this album.  Mike Nesmith’s three tunes included You Just May Be The One, which turned out to be a genuine Monkees classic, and Peter Tork’sFor Pete’s Sake wound up being the closing theme for the second series of their television show.  Mickey Dolenz not only learned to play drums for this album, he also wrote Randy Scouse Git (the title being British slang for, er, “lustful Liverpuddlian jerk”), a song that MOJO magazine recently named one of the best songs of the psychedelic era.  Unfortunately, none of these tracks were released as a single, except for Randy Scouse Git, which was a hit in—wait for it—Britain (although the title was changed to…Alternate Title).  In fact, the band’s label didn’t think any of the tracks were worthy of release as a single, which is a shame because it’s a pretty good album.  In retrospect, Headquarters is one of the first examples of country rock that would later be popularized by bands like The Byrds.  Several tracks, including songs like Shades Of GreyEarly Morning Blues And Greens and the aforementioned original tracks, have become what would now be referred to by music geeks (like myself) as “deep cuts”.

The album also had its share of silliness.  Zilch was a minute long track comprised of each member chanting different sayings over and over.  Despite the fact that you could skip this track and not miss much, Zilch has been sampled by hip hop artists, and They Might Be Giants have performed it in their live shows.  The other bit of nonsense is Band 6 which is, believe it or not, the Monkees attempt to perform The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down—i.e. the Looney Tunes theme song.

Mickey Dolenz has said that The Monkees becoming a real rock band was like Leonard Nimoy actually becoming a Vulcan—a comparison that irks Peter Tork to this day.  TV Guide referred to the Monkees playing their own music as “The Great Revolt of 1967”.  Despite the fact that most pop bands at the time made records the same way (i.e. studio musicians played for them—that’ll be a future blog entry) the Monkees were roundly criticized for admitting it, often by bands that did the same thing.  Nonetheless, the album went on to sell over two million copies within the first two months of its release, and has since gone on to sell over twelve million copies.

Again, I can thank my dad for buying what is to this day one of my favorite albums of all time.  I later found out my dad liked both The Monkees (esp. Mike Nesmith’s country rock tunes), and The Mamas And The Papas for their harmonies.  I also recall him buying Roxy Music’s first album at a used record store once, although I never found out whether or not he liked it…

Headquarters is included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.  And you must.  So…go here:

Akron-Summit County Public Library

More Monkee blogs:

The Monkees Live Almanac

The Monkees Album by Album