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Two highlights of this month's reading list, provided by Voice bookworm Karol Barske and Eureka Valley Librarian Pam Ow, are a tome about toothpicks and a story about an anxious monster named Bobo. To see if the books are available, drop by your local branch or visit the San Francisco Public Library at www.sfpl.org. Note: The Noe ValleySally Brunn Branch Library at 451 Jersey Street is set for a grand reopening on March 8.
- A former heroin addict and hooker searches for a missing college girl in Hell's Kitchen in Sara Gran's 1950s noir novel Dope.
- Yannick Murphy details the life of the Dutch dancer and suspected World War I spy, in Signed, Mata Hari, a fictional story based on fact.
- A homeless woman in San Francisco tries to find her long-lost husband and turn her life around in My Dreams Out in the Street, by Kim Addonizio.
- In Mario Vargas Llosa's The Bad Girl, a woman who reappears in various locations and disguises haunts a young Peruvian man for two decades.
- In The Toothpick: Technology and Culture, Henry Petroski traces the history of this handy item from caveman times to today, and the etiquette rules it has engendered.
- Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing was originally published in the New York Times as "Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points, and Especially Hooptedoodle."
- Robert Hardman offers a historic portrait of how Elizabeth II runs the modern British monarchy in A Year with the Queen.
- In Sightings: Extraordinary Encounters with Ordinary Birds, Sam Keen meditates on the marvels of avian life, from sparrows to turkey vultures.
--Annotations by Karol Barske of the Noe Valley Voice staff
Children's Fiction, Folktales, and Poetry
- Armed with the helpful advice of his grandpa, a young monster named Bobo finds the courage to deal with the scary human boy who appears beneath his bed at bedtime, in Jitterbug Jam. This great read-aloud story by Barbara Jean Hicks is illustrated by Alexis Deacon. Ages 3 to 7.
- In George and the Dragon, author-illustrator Chris Wormell offers a surprising hero who rescues the princess from a mighty dragon. Ages 3 to 7.
- Jack Prelutsky's collection of short, rhyming poems, The Frogs Wore Red Suspenders, is charmingly illustrated by Petra Mathers' paintings. Ages 4 to 8.
- F. Isabel Campoy and Alma Flor Ada retell 12 stories from oral and literary sources, accompanied by background notes, that celebrate the diverse roots of Hispanic culture in Tales Our Abuelitas Told: A Hispanic Folktale Collection. Paintings by Felipe Dávalos, Viví Escrivá, Susan Guevara, and Leyla Torres enhance the text. Also available in Spanish, Cuentos que contaban nuestras abuelas. Ages 6 to 10.
- Gary Paulsen brings us 12-year-old Duane's diary, wherein he records the daily traumas brought on by puberty (zits, strange dreams, clumsiness, girls!) as well as his observations of a newborn bird's growth, in The Amazing Life of Birds. Ages 10 to 14.
- The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman is a richly imagined fantasy and adventure story in which Lyra Belacqua (with her daemon Pantalaimon) rescues kidnapped children, finds out who her parents are, and wonders whether she can ever go to a city faintly seen in the Aurora Borealis. The movie of the same name, which opened recently, is based on this book. Recommended by Noe Valley Children's Librarian Carol Small. Ages 10 to adult.
--Annotations by Pam Ow, Children's Librarian, Eureka ValleyHarvey Milk Memorial Branch
Lapsits and Story Times
- The Noe Valley Library invites you to enjoy stories, songs, and finger plays with your baby or toddler at the lapsits held on Tuesdays, Feb. 5, 19, and 26, at 10:15 a.m. Preschool story time, a read-aloud program for kids ages 3 to 5, follows at 11 a.m.Until the library reopens in March, programs are held at Bethany United Methodist Church, 1268 Sanchez Street at Clipper Street.
The Bookmobile Stops Here
- You can get a library card and check out books, CDs and DVDs at the Noe Valley Bookmobile, which parks on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 665 Elizabeth Street near Diamond.
Meet a Juggling Dog
- Juggler Dana Smith will perform an interactive show accompanied by his dog Lacey on Friday, Feb. 8, 3:45 to 4:30 p.m., at the Eureka Valley Library, on 16th Street. The branch also hosts an afternoon story time on Tuesdays from 3:30 to 4 p.m.
Make a Valentine, See 'Mama Yo'
- The Glen Park Library at 2825 Diamond Street will offer a Valentine's Day craft class for kids 5 to 12, on Saturday, Feb. 9, 3 to 4 pm. Space is limited. Register with the librarian. On Tuesday, Feb. 26, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., storyteller Yolanda Rhodes will share folktales from her African roots.
Homework Help in the Mission
- The Mission Library, 300 Bartlett Street, gives kids in K to seventh grade homework help from 4 to 6 p.m. on most Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays in December.