Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Discussion Question: Could The Highest Tide Be Set in Santa Monica

At all of the book discussions so far, participants have remarked on the sea and Puget Sound being a character in the book. Do you think this novel could have been set in Santa Monica?
Would the story be very different?

We invite your comments! Click on the comments link and type in what you think. You don't need to register with blogger, just make sure to type in the word verification.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Upcoming Family Friendly Events

Want to get the whole family involved with Citywide Reads?
  • The documentary Deep Blue will be screened on Tuesday, April 29 (with closed captions) at 7:00 p.m. and on Saturday, May 3 at 3:30 in the Main Library's Marting Luther King Jr. Auditorium. This breathtaking BBC film features underwater and seaside life and is appropriate for all ages.
  • Entertainer Paul Tracey is coming! He will be in the Main Library's Children Activity Room on Thursday, May 1 at 7:00 p.m. with his eight-foot globe. Paul Tracey encourages children to care for our planet by using music.
  • Don't forget that entries for the Teen Book Cover Art contest are due on April 30. Teens, aged 13 to 18 or in grades 8 to 12, can design a cover for The Highest Tide. Entry forms are available at the Youth Reference Desk at the Main Library.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Learn about the Santa Monica Bay

On Thursday, April 24, Heal the Bay teams up with the Library for another Citywide Reads program. The unique ecology of Santa Monica Bay will be discussed, with a focus on the causes and consequences of ocean pollution. Learn what you can do to decrease your impact on Santa Monica Bay. The program begins at 7:00 pm in the Main Library's Multipurpose Room.

We Got to Know Rachel Carson – the Quiet Rebel

A very interested group attended our special Citywide Reads program on Rachel Carson on Tuesday night. Tara Treiber, the Education Manager for Heal the Bay, Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, led us through the life and times of this pioneering scientist and environmentalist, and revealed background information on her leadership of the anti-pesticide movement. Growing up during the depression and going into “real” science during a time when women just didn’t do that, Rachel Carson became a hero to many, including Miles O’Malley, the protagonist in this year's Citywide Reads selection, The Highest Tide.

We got a real sense of Ms. Carson’s appeal when an audience member, Robert van de Hoek, informed us that he’d come all the way from Palos Verdes for tonight’s talk. Mr. van de Hoek, co-director of the Ballona Institute, shared a common concern for many of us in this area, the health of our bay. Fortunately, our next Citywide Reads special event will cover just that topic. Heal the Bay will discuss the Santa Monica Bay on Thursday night, at 7:00 pm in the Main Library’s Multipurpose Room. Join us to take part in this exciting event.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Call-In Discussion

Can't make it to one of our discussions? No problem. Just tune into Channel 16 for a live, moderated discussion of The Highest Tide on Wednesday, April 23 at 6:30. Local author Beverly Gray, California Center for the Book Director Mary Menzel, and Citywide Reads Advisory Committee member Max Diamond will host the discussion.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A Beautiful Day for Seafood

It was a lovely day today, and a perfect time for our much-anticipated cooking demonstration from the Too Hot Tamales, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, owners and head chefs of our neighbor, Border Grill. Audience members started showing up well over an hour before the demo, and those who made it in time to taste some of the samples these sassy chefs had to offer were very happy they did.

Inspired by The Highest Tide's marine-based themes, Mary Sue and Susan put together a seafood based presentation, spiced with a healthy helping of fun and laughs. The recipes they demonstrated were a yummy shrimp ceviche; a delicious seared calamari entree with white beans, roasted red peppers and Spanish chorizo; and a creamy geoduck clam chowder. Audience members were treated to sample tastings of a refreshing minty lime cooler drink and the shrimp ceviche. Mary Sue and Susan also gave tips on how to run a sustainable kitchen, such as buying only domestic (vs. imported) shrimp. Some of the tips they offered can be found on the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch Program, at

Susan Feniger explains how she likes things spicy. And she always insists on fresh ground black pepper. White pepper is a definite no-no in her kitchen.

Mary Sue Milliken eagerly watched the clam chowder, which was taking its time coming to a necessary boil.

Mary Sue holds up what has become the unofficial mascot of this year's Citywide Reads program, a geoduck (pronounced "gooey-duck") clam. To learn more about this enormous and very interesting sea creature, be sure to check out "Three Feet Under: Digging Deep for the Geoduck Clam," a documentary we're showing at the Library on Wednesday, May 7th. For more information on that program, scroll down to our April 15th blog entry. We hope to see you there and at many more of our still upcoming Citywide Reads events and discussions.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Highest Tide's Quiet Hero: Rachel Carson

One of the things we're hearing most about The Highest Tide from readers is how believable and real Miles O'Malley's fictional world feels. One element that sticks out for many is Miles' reverence for real-life environmental hero, Rachel Carson.

From Chapter 5, in a scene where Miles and his teenage buddy Phelps are clamming together and Phelps is questioning Miles about Carson, there is this touching exchange:

"You know everything about her, don't you?" [Phelps asked.]

I didn't say anything for a couple beats. "I know she was brave and brilliant."

Brave and brilliant is definitely an assessment that many who know Rachel Carson would wholeheartedly agree with. At a time when women were often roundly ignored and disregarded, Rachel Carson made a significant mark on the scientific community and the world at large. A scientist, a biologist (both marine and land), and a writer, Carson is often credited with spearheading the modern environmentalist movement. Her books include The Sea Around Us, The Edge of the Sea, The Sense of Wonder, and the seminal environmental classic Silent Spring, which warned of the dangers of pesticides.

Yet there are many who don't know who Rachel Carson is, or know little about her. On Tuesday, April 22, we hope to change that with another of our Citywide Reads special events, "Getting to Know Rachel Carson." Tara Treiber, the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium's Education Manager, has graciously agreed to join us to lead this introduction, and we hope you can join us. The lecture gets started at 6:30 p.m. in the Main Library's second floor Multipurpose Room. For more information, click here for a PDF of the flyer posted below.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

3 Feet Under: Digging Deep for the Geoduck Clam

A last minute addition to our Citywide Reads lineup of special events is a screening of the documentary 3 Feet Under: Digging Deep for the Geoduck Clam. Learn more about one of the sea creatures featured in The Highest Tide with the movie Entertainment Weekly calls, "A film for those who are fascinated by obscure cultural phenomena." Following the screening, producer and director Justin Bookey will discuss the film, whose subject is the world's largest burrowing clam. The Geoduck (pronounced gooey duck) Clam sports a neck three feet long, has a life span of 160-plus years, and is jokingly referred to as the Washington State Bird.

The film will screen at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 7 in the Main Library's MLK Jr. Auditorium and will be followed by a discussion with Justin.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Santa Monica Explores Our Environment with Cousteau

Citywide Reads had a fantastic kick-off event with a memorable afternoon with Jean-Michel Cousteau. One hundred and fifty people learned about our oceans and ways to help when he gave a presentation and answered audience questions.

After the presentation, attendees and numerous other library patrons learned even more at hands-on booths provided by the Ocean Futures Society, Catalina Environmental Leadership Program, and Ambassadors of the Environment. Cookies baked in a solar oven were a crowd pleaser!

Jean-Michel graciously stayed for over an hour answering questions and posing for photographs, here with librarians Julie and Erica.

Jean-Michel thanks his amazing, hardworking team.

Thanks also to the Environmental Programs Divison for sponsorship.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Citywide Reads Gets Spicy with the Too Hot Tamales

The Santa Monica Citywide Reads 2008 program is literally cram-packed with special events, and this year we’re adding a zesty new flavor to our menu of fun programs: a seafood cooking demonstration from Food Network TV hosts and local favorites, The Too Hot Tamales.

Inspired by the marine-based themes and the beach community setting of Jim Lynch’s The Highest Tide, Border Grill and Ciudad chefs and proprietors Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger have put together a seafood cooking demo full of their signature authentic Latin flavors. They’ll show you how to create a simple but delicious shrimp ceviche appetizer, a spicy seared calamari entrĂ©e, and a rich and robust geoduck clam chowder. Don't know what a geoduck (that's pronounced "gooey-duck") is? Just stay tuned, and we'll have lots more on that in a future blog entry.

The Too Hot Tamales event takes place on Sunday, April 20, 2008 at 2:00 p.m. in the Main Library’s outdoor North Entry Courtyard. The Main Library is located at 601 Santa Monica Bouleavard, and the North Entry Courtyard is off 6th Street, directly across from the YMCA. This event is free to all ages, and seating is first come, first served.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Jean-Michel Cousteau Is Coming!

Jean-Michel Cousteau is coming to the library next Sunday, April 13 at 2:00 p.m. in the MLK Auditorium. He is continuing his father's legacy by addressing the issues of environmental education, ocean conservation, and sustainable education. Hands-on demonstrations and booths will be available after Mr. Cousteau speaks. All ages are welcome!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

What's Your Favorite Citywide Reads Book?

The Highest Tide copies are flying out of the library. We hope the entire community is gearing up for our best Citywide Reads yet. But before we begin this year's program, we are curious what you thought of previous programs. What was your favorite Citywide Reads book?

Were you riveted by a glimpse into Mao's China in Dai Sijie's Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress for our first Citywide Reads effort?

Did you feel the pride of Santa Monica when we read local author Christopher Isherwood's Berlin Stories, the fictionalized account of his experiences as a young man in Berlin during the period that led up to World War II?

In 2005, did you find Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner, the story of the relationship between two boys of different social statuses, to be compelling?

Did you enjoy following the adventures of nine-year-old Oskar Schell as he attempted to learn more about a key found in his deceased father’s closet in Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close?

Were you swept up into the world of beautiful artist Clare and dashing time-traveling librarian Henry De Tamble in last year's The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger?

Or did you love them all?