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Posts from Hudson Park Library

What happens when somebody disappears? Book discussion June 12

Join the Hudson Park book discussion June 12 for some lively talk about Nathan Englander's Ministry of Special Cases.

A couple's teenage son disappears during the "dirty war" in Argentina in the 1970s. Kafkaesque, Ministry of Special Cases is a powerful novel about love, family and absence.

Pick up your copy now at Hudson Park.

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When Rules Don't Make Sense: The Sisters Grimm

The magic in books has to follow rules. That's what makes these books like games: The characters have to figure out how to win the quest or contest (or defeat the evil forces) by using magic correctly. But sometimes the rules underlying the magic don't quite make sense.

That's the case with Michael Buckley's Sisters Grimm series. The basic magical rule in this series is that fairytale characters, called Everafters, are trapped inside a town 

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The Magic Game in The Thief Lord

A common rule of magic (and of games) is that once something is done, it can't be undone. That's the magical rule that applies in The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke.

This is a fine rule. I feel cheated when things can be undone. Once your hand leaves that chessman, that's it, your turn is over. And once certain decisions are made in The Thief Lord, the characters have to live with them. No mulligans! Often books with magic don't follow through with this rule. In many stories, breaking the spell is the 

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Mary Dodd meet Little Wolf: One Thousand White Women

There's still time to pick up your copy of One Thousand White Women: The Journals of Mary Dodd by Jim Fergus and join our next book discussion May 8 at 10:30 am.

What would have happened if the U.S. government had agreed to trade 1,000 women to be wives for Cheyenne Indians in exchange for 1,000 horses?

Get your copy at Hudson Park.

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Rules of Magic: Looking at Children's Books

In a magical world the rules of physics do not apply. Things float, people transform and travel through time and space. They appear and disappear. Often what matters is a hidden talent and, perhaps, a special object or substance. The usual rules do not apply.

But the funny thing about children's books set in magical worlds is that they are all about rules. Rules govern how magic can be used. Knowledge of the rules, especially the words to use, determine everything.

In Harry Potter, for example, the 

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Ezra Jack Keats Winners at Hudson Park

The winners of the Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Contest, open to students in New York City public schools, are on display at the Hudson Park Childrens Room through May 22. These books are beautiful and imaginative. Plan a trip to see them! Call us up (212.243.6876) to schedule a class trip.

Detail from A Day in the Museum by Jun Ying Wu of IS 259, William McKinley, in Brooklyn. A citywide winner, this book has pop-up recreations of famous art pieces:

Detail from Darker and Brighter by Julia Simoniello of 

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Where Is St. John's?: The Old Burying Ground

St. John's Burying Ground used to occupy the space which is now James J. Walker Park, between Leroy, Hudson and Clarkson Streets. In a sense it still does since the old stones were buried in place and few of the 10,000 occupants were moved. The only stone remaining is one dedicated to three firemen who gave their lives in the line of duty over 150 years ago.

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Epileptic: An Illustrated Memoir

Memoirs are notoriously unreliable when it comes to facts. So a reader needs to read between the lines to get at the truth about a subject. That's part of the fun.

How does that work with a graphic memoir? Do the drawings help you better see inside the author?

Join the Hudson Park Book Discussion on Saturday, February 13, at 10:30 am to discuss David B.'s Epileptic and share your thoughts.

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Beautiful Swimmers: Watermen, Crabs and the Chesapeake Bay

Before Salt or Cod there was Beautiful Swimmers, a book about everything blue crab. Actually, this book is as much a study of Chesapeake watermen, but can you really separate the watermen from the crabs? Not on your life.

I grew up on the Eastern Shore and William Warner gets the watermen right, for the most part. Watermen always call each other "honey", for instance. The watermen are extremely hard working and 

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Where Is St. John's?: How Place Names Live On in the West Village

Why was a former railroad freight terminal named for a church? What's odder still is that the terminal was named for a church that had been demolished about 20 years before the terminal was built. And the location of the terminal and the church are not even particularly close. The connection is the railroad.

St. John's Church was built by Trinity Church in 1807 on Varick Street, a couple of blocks south of Canal. It and the private park it faced (also called St. John's) became the center of a fashionable neighborhood.But in 1867, Trinity sold St. John's 

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Where Is St. John's?: Investigating Place Names in Lower Manhattan

Place names stick around even when the source of the name has long disappeared. One name like that in the Hudson Park neighborhood is St. John's.

St. John's still exists in the names St. John's Park, St. John's Lane, and St. John's Center, but St. John's Chapel was demolished almost 100 years ago. Sacrificed for the widening of Varick Street following the construction of the Holland Tunnel, St. John's Chapel was much grander than its name implies.

In future posts I'll write more about St. John's, including its connection to 

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Paris and Provence at Hudson Park

Hudson Park is hosting "Paris and Provence," art by West Village painter Elliott Gilbert, in its Reference Room Gallery through the end of February.

Abbaye de Sénanque

The work includes 15 canvases of Provence and some lesser-known areas of Paris, including Parc Monceau, a favorite place of Monet. One more view after the break.

Come by the library to see the full exhibit. For more information about Elliott Gilbert, go to   Arches of Montfort... Read More ›

Leroy Street 75 Years Ago

Look at all that parking! So few cars! The downside of Leroy Street from 75 years ago is no trees. I'll take the trees and Leroy Street (aka St. Lukes Place) as it is today.

The pictures are great, but the captions also contain illuminating nuggets of information. The top caption talking about the Hudson Park Branch includes:

"The eastern side of the building exactly marks the old eastern boundary of the Trinity Church Farm, which was originally one of the Dutch farms confiscated by the Duke of York, and was deeded in perpetuity to Trinity Church by ... Read More ›

It's All About Pride

View Literary Pride March in a larger map

It's no wonder that the riot that started the worldwide gay revolution started in Hudson Park's neighborhood. By 1969, the Village had long been a mecca for artist types — writers, painters, actors and performers — and for gays and lesbians. These were people who's worth 

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All You Need Is Love's!

Last weekend I found myself in a truck stop in central PA with a fiendish problem. What to choose?

Louis L'Amour? A volume in an endless fantasy series? Or a grit-filled true-life testosterone-fueled story by a marine or a special-op or a terrorist fighter? Which book could I take to bed? What book could I count on to get me through the night when I found myself awake at 3 am?

This was my biggest book disaster in years. Love's has a bigger selection of ready-to-eat franks, wieners, hot dogs, cheddar wursts, brats, kielbasy, and smoked 

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The Fleet's In

This is Fleet Week -- when the Navy drops anchor and unleashes thousands of sailors on the streets of New York City -- so I thought it appropriate to write about a famous neighborhood artist, Paul Cadmus. Cadmus lived at 5 St. Lukes Place for about 25 years from the Thirties through the Fifties. He painted The Fleet's In soon after moving to St. Lukes Place, depicting sailors in Central Park enjoying themselves. The Navy was not amused.  An interesting history of the painting can be found

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South Village Historic District

People are surprised that the Hudson Park Library is not landmarked nor is it in a historic district.

The line of townhouses just across the street are most definitely landmarked. Afterall, one of New York's most famous mayors lived there. But, no, Hudson Park has not been so designated. True, the building is 103 years old and was designed by Carrere and Hastings, the architects of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building (aka the library with the 

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Are You a Max Person or a Peter Person?

In 1963 and 1964, two landmark children's books were published — in 1963, Ezra Jack Keats' The Snowy Day and in 1964, Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are. Both won the Caldecott Medal award and both changed children's publishing forever.

The books could hardly be more different, from the colors and artistic techniques to the style, 

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Help with a Mystery: Adela Lintelmann's Portraits

Who are these people? The work of Adela Smith Lintelmann (1902 - 1996) is currently on display in the Hudson Park Reference Room Gallery.

Adela Smith Lintelmann's art career spanned nearly seventy years and she was a role model for both artists and feminists. In her native British Columbia, she established herself as a mathematician and then, on attending a lecture by an established Canadian artist, she was inspired to paint. With her characteristic adventurous spirit and armed with only her degree, a teaching certificate and a course in typing, she left Vancouver for New York 

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Village Haunts

After 165 years things are bound to change, even in the Village. Maps are a great way to see that change, and fortunately The New York Public Library has one of the world's great map collections. Here's a map of lower Manhattan when Edgar Allen Poe roamed the Village:For fun, compare it to my Google map:

For a nice stroll around the Village, visit the locations of each of Poe's homes. I suggest that you start at Waverly and Sixth, go down to W. 3rd Street, over to Carmine and end up at James J. Walker Park where there is just 

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