Picture books!

Occasionally, I have to meet new people. Even more occasionally (thank goodness), I will meet a new person who, upon learning that I work at a library, will say some version of, “I like books – if they have pictures in them!” They will then look at me expectantly with an expression of inane smugness, waiting for a guffaw at their clever joke.

They don’t get the guffaw.

I actually do like books with pictures in them. One of the perks of working at a library is getting to see all the new books as they arrive, and new children’s books are the most exciting.

One of my favorite new books that came to us recently is I Am NOT A Chair! by Ross Burach. The story is about a giraffe named Giraffe who, on his first day in the jungle, keeps being mistaken by the other animals for a chair! Giraffe is not, in fact, a chair, but you’ll have to read the book yourself to see if he ever finds a voice to assert his place in the world.

Giraffe is not a chair
Yeah, right.

Now, if you’re a little over-analytic like I am, you might suppose that the other animals don’t recognize Giraffe for the giraffe that he is because the jungle is not his natural habitat. Luckily a quick online catalog search will turn up plenty of non-fiction books about giraffes to satisfy your need to be right. Libraries to the rescue!

Giraffe is a book
Oh my gosh. Look at that face.

Moving on, we have Escargot by Dashka Slater, a story about an arrogant a charming French snail on a mission to eat the salad at the end of the book, provided the salad meets Escargot’s distinguished culinary expectations. The plot moves along at a snail’s pace and is punctuated by solicitations for compliments from the self-obsessed self-confident title gastropod, but the character development and expressive illustrations will make it worth your time to read. I won’t entirely spoil the ending for you, but suffice it to say that Escargot’s gastronomic horizons are broadened.

Escargot salad
Hold the salt, please!

If Escargot whets your appetite, follow it up with one of the plentiful picture-laden cookbooks gracing our non-fiction shelves. Of particular interest might be Julia Childs’ Mastering the Art of French Cooking Patricia Wells’ Salad As A Meal, which has just enough salad recipes to make you feel healthy while flipping through its pages. (Feel free to skip straight to the bread chapter, though, and don’t forget about the perennially hungry public servants at your friendly local library when you’re handing out free samples!)

And here, because a book of poetry is really just the same as a book with pictures, I will end with a poem.

“It Was Early” by Mary Oliver

It was early,
which has always been my hour
to begin looking
at the world

and of course,
even in the darkness,
to begin
listening into it,

under the pines
where the owl lives
and sometimes calls out

as I walk by,
as he did
on this morning.
So many gifts!

What do they mean?
In the marshes
where the pink light
was just arriving

the mink
with his bristle tail
was stalking
the soft-eared mice,

and in the pines
the cones were heavy,
each one
ordained to open.

Sometimes I need
only to stand
wherever I am
to be blessed.

Little mink, let me watch you.
Little mice, run and run.
Dear pine cone, let me hold you
as you open.

Nutrition and Diabetes

By Krystle T. Holt, RD, LDN

dietitian holt

Krystle Holt is our guest contributor to this Shelf Life in the Mountains.  Krystle is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist. She currently works as an outpatient dietitian providing Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) to patients. Krystle also works in Harris Regional Hospitals Cardio Pulmonary Rehab services where she provides individual MNT and group class for rehab patients. She helps with community outreach programs as well as employee wellness for Harris Regional and Swain Community Hospital. 

Each March the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics sets out to remind people the importance of eating right and being physically active. This year the theme for National Nutrition Month® is “Put Your Best Fork Forward.” This is a simple reminder of the small choices we can make daily that lead to a healthy lifestyle. Making every bite count can lead to big changes in our health. There are many ways you can “Put Your Best Fork Forward.”  Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Avoid skipping meals. When we skip a meal we tend to overeat at the next meal. Try to always have a good breakfast, lunch and dinner, using MyPlate to guide your choices. Making half of your plate fruit or veggies, one quarter of your plate lean protein, and a quarter of your plate grains, is a great start to healthy eating. Be sure to include low fat dairy at each meal which could consist of 1% or skim milk, low-fat yogurt or low fat cheese.

my plate

  • Have healthy snacks between meals. Snacks are a great way to avoid overeating at meals. Examples of a healthy snack may include: grapes and a mozzarella cheese stick or apple slices and peanut butter.
  • Choose a variety of different fruits and vegetables. Make sure half of your plate at each meal is fruit and veggies. Fruits and veggies are rich in antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals.
  • Make at least half of your grains whole grains. Choose whole grain breads, cereals, and pastas! Whole grains are a great source of fiber which helps us control weight, maintain normal gastrointestinal function, decrease cholesterol, decrease blood pressure and decrease risk of Heart Disease, Stroke, Type 2 Diabetes, and Digestive Cancers.
  • Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages. Replace sodas and juice with water to help maintain adequate hydration. Limiting added sugars in the diet like the ones found in sugar-sweetened beverages will decrease the amount of empty calories you put into your body.
  • Be physically active. Try to engage in some type of physical activity each day. Start slow for example walking or playing ball outside with your kids for 10 minutes. Most importantly…..have fun!

Use these tips to help you get started on a journey to a healthier lifestyle. You can find many different and up-to-date books to aid you in your journey to a healthy lifestyle at Fontana Regional Library.

The Case Against Sugar

What Do I Eat Now? : A Step-by-Step Guide to Eating Right with Type 2 Diabetes

Eat Out, Eat Well: The Guide to Eating Healthy in Any Restaurant

Mayo Clinic: The Essential Diabetes Book

Go Fresh: A Heart-healthy Cookbook with Shopping and Storage Tips

Healthy Weight for Teens

There are also many different resources online. Visit some of these resources to help you learn more about MyPlate, track your exercise and calorie intake, and get educational handouts regarding National Nutrition Month®.




In addition to the above resources you can contact your Harris Regional Hospital Registered Dietitians in Sylva at:

  • Krystle T. Holt, RD, LDN: (828) 631-8823
  • Melanie Batchelor, RD, LDN, CDE: (828) 631-8825

Culture Club

By Amy

Despite how badly I want to make all the jokes, you won’t find any Boy George here! And I’m not just saying that to make you cry!

Italy Display

The Culture Club is a new program at Macon County Public Library. Parents of the some of the littlest library patrons mentioned that it would be great to have a group where kids could learn about the world and all the people in it. Culture Club was started at Macon County Public Library because YOU requested it!

Culture Club’s first destination was Italy: land of pizza and leaning
towers right? Eh… maybe just a little, but there’s so much more! Culture Club discussed not only Italy’s rich culinary history, but also delved into Italian art (children were able to see italian pottery and Murano glass in person!), architecture, language, history, and even economics.

Reading about Italy
Can’t catch a plane to Italy? Travel via book!

The group took a virtual tour of Pisa, Venice, Rome, and Pompeii.
Participants were treated to gelato, spaghetti, italian cookies, and more! Along with the presentation and good food, there were also several book recommendations for children wanting to do more exploring on their own and a crafts project where children constructed their own Leaning Tower of Pisa!

The Culture Club’s next meeting will be December 11 at 1pm. Next stop? France! Every month, the children will nominate a new place they’d like to visit and vote on their next destination.

Italian Cookie
Yummy Italian treats!
Crafting Italy
Children had great fun creating their own version of the Leaning Tower of Pisa (Torre pendente di Pisa)

Culture Club will meet every 2nd Wednesday of the month at 1pm in the children’s program room at Macon County Public Library. Everyone is encouraged to share things they have relating to the country of the month, so bring your favorite snacks, souvenirs, pictures, etc. You can call MCPL Youth Services at 828-524-3600 for more information. À bientôt, j’espère!

You’re Invited…

Jack the DipperSaturday November 2nd from 1pm-5pm Jack the Dipper will be donating 10% of ice cream sales to the FRL Reading Rover Bookmobile!

Bring your neighbors, friends, and family to enjoy an ice cream treat and an afternoon of fun in support of the Reading Rover!  Free face painting and children’s activities will be part of this event.  In addition, the Reading Rover will be open for tours.

Saturday, November 2 from 1pm-5pm


Jack the Dipper 

170 East Sylva Shopping Center

Sylva, North Carolina 28779

(828) 586-9441

View on Google Maps

But the festivities don’t end there! Stay a little later (6-7 p.m.) to experience the 1st Annual Jack the Dipper Ice Cream Eating Contest.  Western Carolina University students will compete for male and female ice cream eating champion bragging rights.  The contest is an additional fundraiser benefiting the Reading Rover.

Storytelling with Peggy Gibby
Storytelling with Peggy Gibby

Here are the results of Rover’s travels for the 2012-2013 school year:

  • 6,331 children experiencing Rover storytime
  • 582 storytime programs presented
  • 29 child care center visited monthly by the Rover
  • 9,290 library materials checked out for use in child care centers
  • Rover costs nearly $8,100 a month to operate.

Little Hands 2

Why is a visit from Rover important?

  • Many area children do not have access to books and story time at home
  • Early exposure to books and reading provide vital pre-reading skills necessary to prepare children to read on their own.

Rover Patrons


What can you do to help?

Please join us for hand-dipped ice cream at Jack the Dipper in Sylva or use the Reading Rover Pledge Form (pdf) to make your contribution.

To help us carry out the Rover mission, please read to your young child at home! Regular reading at home helps prepare you child for school, along with a whole host of additional benefits!

Read more about the Reading Rover bookmobile (a cooperative project with Smart Start and Region A Partnership for Children) on our website: http://fontanalib.org/readingRover.htm

See previous posts about the Rover:

Fundraising Dinner at Bogart’s

It’s National Bookmobile Day! Hooray for the Reading Rover!

Things Broke Loose and Then the Police Came

The raw carnality of "The Rite of Spring" challenged Parisian sensibilities.
The raw carnality of “The Rite of Spring” challenged Parisian sensibilities.

By Luke

I’m posting this on May 29th, which, I don’t think I need to remind you, is the 100th anniversary of the riots at the premiere of Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” in Paris.

That’s right, the French rioted over a ballet.

According to eyewitness accounts, two outraged parties began arguing even as the Introduction was being performed. Fistfights broke out before, inexplicably, inevitably,  the groups turned their anger on the orchestra.

“Everything available was tossed in our direction, but we continued to play on,” said one of the musicians.

A theatrical magazine reviewing the performance noted that the disturbance, while deplorable, was simply  “a rowdy debate between two ill-mannered factions,” which, if you think about it, is a nifty encapsulation of the entire course of human history. One critic wrote that he could barely hear the music over the mayhem and wondered whether, “We could ask M. Astruc … to set aside one performance for well-intentioned spectators? … We could at least propose to evict the female element.” (Italics mine.)

Does this mean that the people who were causing the commotion were women? Can that be?

I’ve witnessed some venom-spitting arguments between women over incomprehensible things like the proper way to hang a roll of toilet paper. Once, when I was considerably younger and stupider, I tried to act as peacemaker between two warring females. It was like tripping face-first into a  propeller.

But I have trouble imagining a woman being so outraged over a musical performance that she’d hurl a brick at an oboe player.

We Americans will probably never riot over a ballet. Sure, we could manufacture some outrage if a dancer’s boob accidentally flopped out (“Won’t someone please think of the children?!”), but that would probably only lead to an eight-month Congressional investigation that would cause a minor ratings spike for Cspan and a $20 million fine for the ballet company’s backers.

No, we reserve our rioting for serious matters, like winning the World Series. We can’t seem to celebrate a victory or defeat in anything (heck, even “Dancing With The Stars” for all I know) without setting fire to some police cars and racing out of Best Buy with an armful of Blu-Ray players.

Ducks account for nearly 62 percent of national scandals.
Ducks account for nearly 62 percent of national scandals.

That’s why I was comforted to read Jennifer 8. Lee’s “The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food. ” Ms. Lee wonderfully recounts the Great Kosher Duck Scandal of 1989, when the US faced a kosher duck shortage that threatened to sever the almost mystical bond between American Jews and Chinese food.

Lee explains, “For one thing, Chinese people and Jews were among the two largest non-Christian immigrant groups in the United States, which meant they didn’t share the same days of worship as the rest of the predominantly Protestant and Catholic country. Even today, Christmas is often the busiest day of the year for Chinese Restaurants in New York, Florida, and other Jewish-American urban hubs. At Shun Lee, an upscale restaurant on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, the onslaught of Jewish customers begins at noon and does not stop until eleven p.m., making Christmas twice as busy as the next-busiest day of the year…

“(Perhaps) Chinese food helped the generation of immigrant Jews feel more American, in part by making them feel more cosmopolitan at a time when they were trying to shed their image as hicks from eastern Europe. Chinese food used to symbolize worldiness. As Tuchman and Levine write: ‘Of all the peoples whom immigrant Jews and their children met, of all the foods they encountered in America, the Chinese were the most foreign, the most ‘un-Jewish.’ Yet Jews defined this particular foreignness not as forbidding but as appealing, attractive, and desirable. They viewed Chinese restaurants and food as exotic and cosmopolitan and therefore as good.'”

When America’s only kosher duck farm closed in 1989, rabbi-approved duck began to vanish.  A group of rabbis and businesspeople persuaded a South Dakota poultry farmer  to fill in the gap, but it would take time to win kosher certification. In the meantime, the supply dwindled and prices skyrocketed.

Although the duck crisis had national implications, the focal point was the exclusive Moshe Dragon Chinese Restaurant in Washington, D.C. Moshe Dragon was the first kosher Chinese restaurant in D.C. and employed its own mashgiach, or kosher cop, to ensure that everything was, well, kosher. Because Moshe Dragon was the Chinese restaurant in the nation’s capitol, where the nation’s media have a ridiculously large influence, the restaurant earned a national cachet.

It had to adhere to the highest standards.

Moshe Dragon’s mashgiach was baffled when he entered the kitchen on August 21, 1989 and discovered 13 ducks roasting in the oven and 17 in the freezer. He immediately suspected that the birds in question were non-kosher. A rabbinical council examined the issue and, after months of bitter recriminations and countercharges, it was determined that the ducks were indeed kosher. Yet, there was so much rancor over the issue that many people didn’t accept the ruling, the mashgiach lost his job, and the manager had a nervous breakdown. Ultimately, Moshe Dragon was shuttered, only to be resurrected as The Royal Dragon by an Iranian-American Orthodox couple.

That’s how we do it in America. When something goes amiss, we investigate, reputations are destroyed, people are hounded and businesses reduced to rubble.

Chinese cuisine is a moveable feast that's found a cherished spot in the American table.
Chinese cuisine is a moveable feast that’s found a cherished spot in the American table.

Anyway, Lee’s “The Fortune Cookie Chronicles” is a fascinating look at the particular variety of Chinese cuisine that has blossomed on the American landscape. She notes that there are some 40,000 Chinese restaurants  in the United States, more than the number of McDonald’s, Burger Kings, and KFCs combined. That’s led to some innovative recipes that would baffle native Chinese. Things like chop suey,  chow mein, and fortune cookies.

Lee travels to General Tso’s hometown in Hunan Province to learn if anyone is even aware of a savory American dish named for their 19th century hometown hero — nope, but they do offer dog.

She explains how PF Chang’s overarching design theme is death and how composing fortune cookie fortunes takes a psychic toll on their writers. Asians are baffled that American diners reject fortunes that are in any way negative.  A Shinto priest (the Japanese invented the fortune cookie) explains to Lee that, “Life isn’t all happy. You have to have bad messages and bad fortunes because that is how you change course to save yourself. The point of a fortune is to give you direction in life.”

Of course, there’s plenty of good news in those sweet, sweet fortunes — Lee tracks down the 110 winners of a $84 million Powerball lottery who had chosen their magic numbers from a mass-produced batch of cookies.

“The Fortune Cookie Chronicles” is a rollicking travelogue of a culinary  journey that crosses continents and centuries. Lee is by turns earnest, philosophical and affectionate for this cuisine that’s captured the palates of so many Americans. We’ve loved this stuff passionately ever since a harried 19th century chef threw some leftovers into a wok and served his American diners a plate of Chop Suey (“Odds and Ends”).

Now that I think about it, it’s pretty clear that we may riot over Chinese food.

As American as apple pie.
As American as apple pie.