WA Secretary of State Blogs

50 years of preserving and exploring in the North Cascades of Washington.

September 5th, 2014 WSL NW & Special Collections Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Washington Reads No Comments »

Mount_Shuksan_tarnA small selection of resources tracing 50 years of preserving and exploring in the North Cascades of Washington.

On September 3, 1964 President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the wilderness act as a result of pressure from national and state level citizens and organizations who shared similar concerns about the protection of the United States uninhabited environments amidst increasing industrialization and population growth.  Four years following that act, the North Cascades National Park was created.  The State Library maintains copies of the hearings that led to its creation within its Federal Publication Collection,

The North Cascades. Hearings, Ninetieth Congress, second session (Washington: U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1968. 3 vols. 985 p. Illustrations, maps.) These hearings held April 19-Sept. 4, 1968 in various cities.

 “Serial no. 90-24.”

Y 4.In 8/14:90-8970/ pt.1 thru 3 (call ahead to have these volumes pulled for on-site review)

“H.R. 8970 and related bills, a bill to establish the North Cascades National Park and Ross Lake national recreation area, to designate the Pasayten Wilderness and to modify the Glacier Peak Wilderness in the State of Washington, and for other purposes.”

A less-traveled jewel of Washington’s wilderness regions and one of the nation’s least visited attractions, North Cascades National Park is arguably the crown jewel, the largest block of protected wilderness along the U.S. – Canadian border.  It is largely a roadless area, though it is accessible via the North Cascades highway (WA-20), which commenced prior to Johnson’s administration with appropriated funds in 1958 and completed with a final connection to State Route 153 in 1972.

Washington Highways: North Cascades Highway Dedication Issue. (Olympia, Wash.: Washington State Dept. of Highways, 1964-1972.

WA 388 H531ne 1964 copy three available for checkout

 But don’t be dissuaded by the relative scarcity of roads, there are plenty of road trips for the automotive enthusiast that exploit the natural beauty and opportunities for RV and tent camping that do not require a large-scaling hiking adventure!

The North Cascades Highway: A Roadside Guide to America’s Alps. By Jack McLeod. (Seattle, Wash.: University of Washington Press, 2013. 104 pp. Color illustrations, maps, bibliographical references and index.)

NW 917.975 MCLEOD 2013

 Camping Washington: The Best Public Campground for Tents & RVs, Rated & Reviewed. By Ron C. Judd. (Seattle, Wash.: Mountaineers Books, c2009. 325 pp. Illustrations, maps.)

NW 917.9706 JUDD 2009

Even the casual appreciator finds themselves knocked back by the North Cascades raw beauty.  From top to bottom it’s a stunner: steep peaks beset with translucent blue glaciers that melt into dramatic waterfalls streaming into alpine meadows and deep and lovely lakes cannot help but wow.  Such untrammeled gorgeousness has led many to dub it the Alps of North America, but it is its own wonderful vision.  A vision so singular that it held members of the Beat Generation in thrall

Poets on the Peaks: Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen & Jack Kerouac in the North Cascades. Text and Photographs by John Suiter. (Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, c2002. 340 pp. Illustrations, bibliographical references and index.)

NW 811.54 SUITER 2002                  AVAILABLE

If you cannot visit soon but wish to get a glimpse, you can see its beauty captured in photographs by checking out

Lake Chelan and the North Cascades: A Pictorial Tour. Text and photos by Mike and Nancy Barnhart; edited by Ana Maria Spagna. (Stehekin, WA: Bridge Creek Pub., c2000. 52 pp. Illustrations, maps.)

NW 917.977 BARNHAR 2000

Shortly after the park’s creation, local author Frank Darvill and the Mountaineers of Washington State each created a collection of maps and routes to aide interested hikers

A Pocket Guide to Selected Trails of the North Cascades National Park and Associated Recreational Complex. By Fred T. Darvill, Jr. (Mount Vernon, Wash. (P.O. Box 636, 98273): F.T.Darvill, c1968.)  52 pp.: illustrations, map.)

NW 917.9773 DARVILL 1968

Hiker’s Map of the North Cascades; Routes and Rocks in the Mt. Challenger Quadrangle. By Rowland W. Tabor and Dwight Farnsworth Crowder. Drawings by Ed Hanson.(Seattle, The Mountaineers 1968. 47 p. Illustrations, maps, bibliographic references.)

R 917.9724 TABOR 1968 (Library Use Only)

Since then there have been additional works created to guide those who wish to wander through the northern woods.  The Mountaineers’ guide has added many more hikes of varying difficulty and length since that early guide

100 Hikes in Washington’s North Cascades National Park Region. (Seattle, WA: Mountaineers, c2000-

NW 917.9773 ONE HUN 2000

You can spend just a single day hiking.  If you are interested in doing so, try consulting

Day Hike! North Cascades, 3rd Edition: The Best Trails You Can Hike in a Day. By Mike McQuaide (Seattle, Wash: Sasquatch Books 2014. 240 pp.)

NW 796.5109 MCQUAID 2014

Longtime Puget Sound area residents may remember Television personality Don McCune (who also played children’s show host “Captain Puget”) hosted a series called “Exploration Northwest.” In that series he hosted a three episode special split into 30-minute-segments on the North Cascades.  Well, as luck would have it, the State Library has those available for your viewing pleasure as well:

North Cascades [videorecording] / KOMO TV. (Woodinville, WA: Don McCune Library, c2005.

1 videodisc (90 min.): sd., col. with b&w sequences; 4 3/4 in.

NW DVD 979.773 NORTH C 2005

In the first segment, the history of the four-year construction of the north cross-state highway is documented. The second segment presents the story of injured eagles care of wounded eagles and their eventual return to their native Skagit Valley habitat. In the third segment, climbers scale pinnacles in the North Cascades and demonstrate free-climbing skills.

There is wildlife galore to encounter in the North Cascades.  Bird lovers will discover tons of bird watching opportunities,

Birds of the Northwestern National Parks: A Birder’s Perspective. By Roland H. Wauer; drawings by Mimi Hoppe Wolf. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2000. 137 pp. Illustrations.)

NW 598.0723 WAUER 2000

And all sorts of mammals ranging from elk, wolves and wolverines to the always controversial Grizzly Bear presence can be sighted.  In fact the North Cascades are one of the few areas in Washington State where the Grizzly, while listed as endangered in this state, can still be encountered.  Be observant and – as always – take care, especially if you are going fishing in the late summer or autumn.

Wolves in the Land of Salmon. By David Moskowitz. (Portland, OR: Timber Press, c2013. 334 pp. Illustrations, maps, bibliographical references and index.)

NW 599.773 MOSKOWI 2013

North Cascade (Nooksack) Elk Herd. Prepared by Michael A. Davison. (Olympia, WA: Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, Wildlife Program, [2002] 53 pp. Illustrations, maps, bibliographical references.)

WA 639.2 F62nor c2 2002 c.2         AVAILABLE

Click on the following to:

View online from Washington State Library as a PDF Document – Adobe Acrobat Reader Required

http://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov/Record/ViewMedia/542A3D7A97762AE702EB8673A66FEB2A?_ga=1.46557220.2028710183.1406221241

A Preliminary Study of Historic and Recent Reports of Grizzly Bears, Ursus Arctos, in the North Cascades Area of Washington.  By Paul T. Sullivan. (Olympia, Wash.: Washington Dept. of Game, [1983]

WA 799 G141pre s1 1983 c.1

North Cascades Grizzly Bear Ecosystem Evaluation: Final Report. By Jon A. Almack, William L. Gaines, Robert H. Naney … [et al.] (Denver, Colo.: Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, 1993.

Washington State Docs WA 799 W64nor c2 1993

Grizzly Wars: The Public Fight over the Great Bear. By David Knibb; foreword by Lance Craighead. (Spokane: Eastern Washington University Press, c2008. 284 pp. Illustrations, maps, bibliographical references, and index.)

NW 333.9597 KNIBB 2008

There are pieces of history tucked away in the park as well, for the curious historians and archaeology buffs:

Historic Structures Inventory: North Cascades National Park Service Complex. Compiled by Gretchen A. Luxenberg. (Seattle, Wash.: Cultural Resources Division, Pacific Northwest Region, National Park Service, [1984]  108pp. Illustrations, maps, forms, bibliographical references, and index.)

Goat Lake Trail: A Hike into Mining History.” By Richard C. McCollum. (Seattle, Wash.: Northwest Press, [1981], 2 pp. Illustrations, maps, bibliographical references.) As part of the journal, Northwest discovery; v. 2, no. 5. pp. 270-330

NW 979.5 NORTHWE 1981 May

Not only is history to found in the park but it has been made there, particularly in the field of fire control:

Spittin’ in the Wind. Bk. 1, History & Tales: North Cascades Smokejumper Base: The Birthplace Of Smokejumping, 1939-2007. By Bill Moody and Larry Longley. (2007. 256 pp. Illustrations)

NW 634.9618 SPITTIN 2007

As with so many natural spaces, tense debates regarding best practices on how to maintain the lands, and how to best balance human interactions with the environment with the needs of the environment as a whole, persist.

Wilderness Alps: Conservation and Conflict in Washington’s North Cascades. By Harvey Manning with the North Cascades Conservation Council; edited by Ken Wilcox; foreword by David R. Brower. (Bellingham, Wash.: Northwest Wild Books, 2007. 479 pp. Illustrations, bibliographical references, and index.)

NW 979.773 MANNING 2007

If you are wish to stay abreast of park developments and interpretive programming in the North Cascades region a great resource is,

Field notes from North Cascades Institute. (Sedro-Woolley, Wash.: North Cascades Institute, -2008.)

The State Library maintains access to this title through our catalog. View the online version and access to e-newsletter at http://stlow.iii.com/search~S16?/o63181831

We invite you to join us in celebrating this Washington treasure.  Please consider taking a road trip into this marvelous region of our state, and maybe as you’re planning a trip you’ll feel like picking up some resources at your State or local library along the way.

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Dia! Diversity in Action

April 30th, 2014 WSL NW & Special Collections Posted in Washington Reads 1 Comment »

From the desk of Kathryn Devine

Dia2013_12x18Poster_download_0[1]April 30 marks Día, the culmination of El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Children’s Day/Book Day).

Dia is an initiative started by the American Library Association to “emphasize the importance of literacy for children of all linguistic and cultural backgrounds.”

For more information about Día, check out the ALA website.

In the spirit of Día, we hope you enjoy these titles and others at the Washington State Library.

 

StormBoyStorm Boy. By Paul Owen Lewis

Beautifully illustrated in Haida style, this is a story of a chief’s son who is lost at sea and finds himself washed ashore in a strange village of enormous–but friendly—people.

 

GreatMigrationThe Great Migration. By Jacob Lawrence

Artist Jacob Lawrence illustrates the experiences of African Americans who migrated from the South to the northern industrial cities in search of work beginning around the time of World War I.

’And the migrants kept coming’ is a refrain of triumph over adversity. My family and others left the South on a quest for freedom, justice, and dignity. If our story rings true for you today, then it must still strike a chord in our American experience.” –Jacob Lawrence

 

Shu-LiandTamara

Shu-Li and Tamara. By Paul Yee.

Shu-Li is a young Chinese immigrant living in Vancouver, Canada. Working at her parents’ deli she is regularly embarrassed by her mother’s English in front of the neighborhood kids.

She strikes up a friendship with her new neighbor Tamara. When rumors spread about Tamara, Shu-Li must decide whether she should stand by her new friend or follow the crowd.

 

CircleofEquilibriumThe circle of equilibrium: poems of conscience and leadership by Native, Latino, African and Asian American youth

Collection of poems written by middle school and high school students from Oregon and Washington.

 

COLORColor: Latino voices in the Pacific Northwest

A collection of one-page stories told by recent immigrants to the U.S. about their experiences here.

 

IAmSacajaweaI am Sacajawea, I am York: Our Journey with Lewis and Clark. By Claire Rudolf Murphy.

A children’s book about the Lewis and Clark expedition, alternately told in the voices of Sacajawea and York.

 

 

SeekingLightSeeking light in each dark room: those who make a way, young Latino writers in Yakima = Buscando luz en cada cuarto oscuro: por los abrecaminos

The stories and poems in this book were written by writers who call themselves abrecaminos, enrolled in a year-long Latino literature and writing course at Davis High School in Yakima, Washington using bilingual texts from the great works of Latin American writers.” –From Acknowledgements

 

NosotrosNosotros: the Hispanic people of Oregon : essays and recollections

Packed with pictures, stories, and essays about Hispanic history, culture, and people of Oregon.

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Washington’s State Flower

April 25th, 2014 Kim Smeenk Posted in For Libraries, For the Public, State Library Collections, Washington Reads No Comments »

rhododendron
In 1892, there was a hotly contested election in Washington State…for a flower.

 

Tacoma Daily News July 16 1892 pg 8 excerpt

Tacoma Daily News July 16 1892

The 1893 World’s Fair was fast approaching, and the state flower would be part of the exhibit for Washington State.

It came down to Clover vs. Rhododendron, and it was decided that the women of the state would vote…and only the women.

They didn’t have the right to vote in any other election until 1910, but this time it was the men who were not allowed to cast a ballot…even if they were gardeners.

 

Tacoma Daily News June 17 1892 pg 3

Tacoma Daily News June 17 1892

The campaign was hard fought.

Some people didn’t like the name of the rhododendron.  It was too long and too hard to spell.

Others claimed they had never seen one before, and the state flower should be grown all over the state.

Tacoma Daily News July 14 1892

Tacoma Daily News July 14 1892

 

Polls opened across the state and thousands of women voted.

After the polls closed on August 1, the Rhododendron had won.

 

These are some of the books about Rhododendrons that you can find at the Washington State Library.

rhododendron story coverThe Pacific Coast Rhododendron Story, and Rhododenrons in the Landscape are both written by Sonja Nelson, who was an editor of the Journal American Rhododendron Society.

The first title is more of a history, with descriptions of the different varieties.rhododendron landscape cover

In the second book, she provides extensive advice on how to use rhododendrons in different styles of landscaping.

 

rhododendrons in america coverRhododendrons in America by Ted Van Veen, provides a nice introduction to gardening with rhododendrons.

He has a list of the different hybrids created as of 1969, and color photographs on every page.

 

Come and visit us at the Washington State Library, or browse our catalog, if you’re looking for books about Rhododendrons, or newspaper articles that tell the story of how it became our state flower.

 

 

 

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Celebrate Teen Literature Day!

April 17th, 2014 Kim Smeenk Posted in State Library Collections, Washington Reads No Comments »

From the desk of Kathryn Devine

teen blog happy day
Every year, the Thursday of National Library Week, April 17th  this year, is set aside as Teen Literature Day.

Check out these teen books at the Washington State Library.

 

 

Meet Hannah West—smart, resilient, slightly sarcastic, and sometimes too
nosy for her own good.teen blog belltown towers cover

She’s a young Seattleite whose favorite pastimes include watching the Crime Network, Law & Order, Monk, Columbo, or any mystery show really.
All of which provide a solid education when she tries to untangle her first real mystery in her own (temporary) home in Hannah West in the Belltown Towers.

Not to give too much away—but there are missing paintings, a ubiquitous bike messenger, and a shady artist who may be involved.

This is a fun read peppered with references to Seattle locations and culture.
Linda Johns, author and librarian at the Seattle Public Library, has created a wonderful character to spend some time with.

teen blog deep water coverYou can follow Hannah’s other adventures, all set in the Seattle area:

Hannah West in Deep Water (2006)

Hannah West in the Center of the Universe (2007)

Hannah West on Millionaire’s Row (2007)

 

 

Here are a few other series for teens, also at the Washington State Library.0-545-22418-7

Dear America

1. West to a Land of Plenty 

2. Across the wide and lonesome prairie: the Oregon Trail Diary

3. The Fences Between Us (Kirby Larson) 

 

Carl Deuker Sports fiction for Teens teen blog high heat cover

1. On the Devil’s Court (1988)

2. Painting the black (1997)

3. Night hoops (2000)

4. High Heat (2003)

5. Runner (2005)

6. Gym Candy (2007)

7. Payback Times (2010)

Come and visit us, or browse the catalog, if you’re  looking for teen fiction written in or about the Pacific Northwest.

 

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Have you read a poem lately?

April 11th, 2014 Kim Smeenk Posted in For Libraries, For the Public, State Library Collections, Washington Reads No Comments »

If you haven’t read poetry in a while, now is the perfect time to start again - April is National Poetry Month.

In his National Poetry Month proclamation, Governor Inslee called on

“…all the people of Washington to observe National Poetry Month in a more meaningful, personal way…as a means to offer comfort and solace to those who are suffering as a result of the Oso mudslide.

One way to do so is to submit a poem yourself to the Art with a Heart – Response to Oso tumblr forum.

The Washington State Arts Commission runs the forum.  Among the poems you can find there is one written by Elizabeth Austen, the Washington State Poet Laureate.

If you would like to read poetry written by other Washington state poets, browse the Washington State Library’s collection for the poetry books listed in our catalog.

Here are just a few excerpts from that collection that might, as the governor said, “offer comfort and solace.

Grace AboundingWillow_Tree_
I’m saved in this big world by unforeseen
friends, or times when only a glance
from a passenger beside me, or just the tired
branch of a willow inclining toward earth,
may teach me how to join earth and sky.
Even in Quiet Places by William Stafford (1996)

Nooksack Valley
At the far end of a trip north
In a berry-pickers cabin
At the edge of a wide muddy field
Stretching to the woods and cloudy mountains,
Feeding the stove all afternoon with cedar,
Watching the dark sky darken, a heron flap by,
Riprap, & Cold Mountain Poems by Gary Snyder (1965)

Round_beech_stones_ Riverbed
We walk on round stones, all flawlessly bedded,
Where water drags the cracked dome of the sky
Riverbed by David Wagoner (1972)

 

His Father’s Whistle
For hours the boy fought sleep,
strained against the whir of cicadas, moths
at the screens bumbling, night’s
blue breezes, to hear out on the country road
his father’s car rumbling in gravel.
Earthly Meditations by Robert Wrigley (2006)

Aurora_Northern Lights
Once more it’s the rainbow leaps
and foldings of the old process,
a whole border of pink roses
growing wild on the horizon.
The Dark Path of Our Names by Joan Swift (1985)


Mount Alaska Stream

In the pines
where the sun never shines
a small, damp fire filled mountains
green lungs of each century
Orcas Island by Don Wilsun (1980)
Waterfall_rockface_

Untitled by Nasira Alma
in cascades
down the blooming rocks
yesterday’s rain
Sunlight through Rain: A Northwest Haiku Year (1996)

Come and visit us, or browse the catalog, if you’re  looking for a poetry book written in or about the Pacific Northwest.

 

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Double Trouble in Walla Walla

April 2nd, 2014 Kim Smeenk Posted in For Libraries, For the Public, State Library Collections, Uncategorized, Washington Reads No Comments »

Double_Trouble cover

Double Trouble in Walla Walla.

The Adventure on Klickitat Island

What do these titles have in common?

Well, they contain two of Washington State’s very unique place names.  Walla Walla and Klickitat are just fun to say.

They are also part of our collection of children’s books here at the Washington State Library.

We don’t just have history books and microfilm here at the State Library.  We collect any book written about, or set in, Washington State.  That includes picture books.

 

Double Trouble in Walla Walla by Andrew Clements is a wonderful tongue twister of a tale that is great fun to read aloud.Double_trouble 2

In Lulu’s English class one morning, there is an outbreak of “lippity-loppity jibber-jabber.”

Everyone is double talking - the students, the teachers, the nurse and even the principal.

He tries to deny it by saying “Tut-tut, sounds like silly-willy hocus pocus to me”.

It seems he has caught the double talk bug too.


Adventure on Klickitat Island
by Hilary Horder Hippely is a beautifully illustrated nighttime adventure.  A little boy and his bear head out to help animals on the island who are wet and cold in a thunderstorm.

“On Klickitat Island
just think of the rains,klickitat
now soaking the otters
and poor baby cranes”

Once they get to the island, all of the animals work with him to build a shelter.  They triumph over the cold rainy night.

“With deer hauling driftwood
and cranes helping sort,
soon standing up tall
was a Klickitat fort!”

Come and visit us, or browse our catalog, if you’re  looking for a children’s book set in, or written about, Washington State.

 

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Mercy Thompson Series

March 28th, 2014 Kim Smeenk Posted in For the Public, State Library Collections, Washington Reads No Comments »

 

From the desk of Kim Smeenk

Frost Burned

Frost Burned

There is a bestselling fantasy series about werewolves and vampires
in Washington State, and it isn’t the one you’re thinking of.

 

Instead of the rain, mountains and misty forests that most people think of when they picture Washington State, Patricia Briggs has set her Mercy Thompson series where she herself lives.  The dry and sunny Tri Cities region in Eastern Washington.  More desert than forest, more farmland than mountains.

Tri Cities Region

Mercy Thompson is a young Volkswagen mechanic, who also has the ability to shift into a coyote.   This is why she can count amongst her family, friends, acquaintances and enemies, werewolves, witches, vampires, trolls, various other shape-shifters and members of the Fey.

Mercy isn’t a superhero.  Most of the time, she is the weakest supernatural creature in the room.   When we first meet her in Moon Called, she is driving an old VW Rabbit, and lives in an old single wide trailer outside of town with her cat Medea.

You just enjoy spending time with her in these books.  She faces life with humor, loyalty and grit.  There is the actual grit that comes from working on cars all day, but Mercy is also full up on the grit required to face all of those creatures who are stronger than her.  Facing them in her daily life – her neighbors happen to be werewolves – and facing them in battles she often doesn’t expect to win.   She fights those battles because friends are in trouble, or sometimes, it’s her enemies who are in trouble.

Life is complicated, but really, really interesting, in Mercy Thompson’s Tri Cities.

Iron Kissed

Iron Kissed

#1 Moon Called
#2 Blood Bound
#3 Iron Kissed
#4 Bone Crossed
#5 Silver Borne
#6 River Marked
#7 Frost Burned
#8 Night Broken

If your local library doesn’t have these titles, you can borrow them from the Washington State Library through interlibrary loan.
www.sos.wa.gov/library/

 

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Border Songs, by Jim Lynch

March 5th, 2014 WSL NW & Special Collections Posted in Washington Reads No Comments »

U.S. Hardback Knopf - CoverBorder Songs. By Jim Lynch (New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2009. 291 pp.)

Recommendation submitted by:
Will Stuivenga, Cooperative Projects Manager, Washington State Library, Tumwater, WA.

Jim Lynch’s second novel, Border Songs (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009), follows his enormously popular debut novel, The Highest Tide. In Border Songs, we follow the adventures of a zany and seemingly dysfunctional cast of characters, of which the foremost is Brandon Vanderkool, a dyslexic, six-foot-eight U.S. Border Control guard who keeps a running daily bird watch count in his head, while intuitively ending up in exactly the right spot at the right time to repeatedly catch people crossing the border illegally.

Another unlikely character is Brandon’s barely competent dairy cow farmer father, Norm, who is building a yacht in his garage, but spends most of his time up to his knees in mud , manure, and mastitis, worrying about his wife’s memory loss (it it Alzheimer’s?) while suffering the daily taunts of his Canadian neighbor across the border.

Brandon harbors a crush on the neighbor’s daughter, Madeline, who herself is becoming increasingly caught up in a major marijuana kingpin’s smuggling and growing operations. This naturally makes us (the haplessly amused readers) wonder if Brandon’s border sensitivity and his wished-for girlfriend’s smuggling activities aren’t headed for a catastrophic confrontation of some sort. Will it be a romantic conclusion, or the seemingly inevitable police action?

This seriocomic novel truly takes us to the ultimate Northwest, both in physical location (the NW corner of the NW region of the U.S. lower 48) and its cultural implications. The book is a highly entertaining must-read for anyone even remotely interested in the contemporary NW literary scene.

ISBN: 9-780-30727117-4

Available at the Washington State Library, NW 813.6 LYNCH 2009
Available as an eBook, as a Braille edition, and as a talking book.
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Go Huskies! The Boys in the Boat

February 14th, 2014 mschaff Posted in For the Public, Washington Reads No Comments »

boys

The Boys in the Boat.  By Daniel James Brown. (New York : Viking Adult, 2013. 416pp.)

Recommendation by Mary Paynton Schaff, Reference Librarian at the Washington State Library.

Once again the world’s best athletes have gathered to compete in the Olympic games, and television viewers can’t get enough.  Standout personalities shine in the individual competitions like speed skating, skiing, and snowboarding.  American broadcasts indulge in extended biographical features about our favorite competitors and their hometowns.  It’s clear our society loves to celebrate individual accomplishment, and no wonder.  To stand on the gold medal podium in triumph is no small feat.

But despite the celebrity of our individual winners, it’s the Olympic team sports that have the capacity to draw us in and capture the nationalistic pride like nothing else.  For every Michelle Kwan, there’s a “Miracle on Ice.”  For every Jesse Owens, there a University of Washington’s Eight Man Rowing Team.

You might be forgiven if in contemplating the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, your thoughts immediately go to Hitler’s Germany and the accomplishments of Owens.  But after reading Daniel Brown’s “The Boys in the Boat,” your view will be considerably widened.  1936 was more than the dawn of the Third Reich and slide toward world war.  It was the slogging end of the Great Depression, where thousands of young American men struggled to find work, put themselves through school, and hold their desperate families together.  The Olympics were more than the city of Berlin, with its systematic white washing of Germany’s anti-Semitic laws.  The Olympic story included rough and tumble logging towns like Sequim and Montesano, Depression-era boom towns like Grand Coulee, and gritty Northwest cities coming of age like Seattle.  And Olympic athletes were more than solitary figures standing on a podium.  They were teams of boys in boats.

Part of what makes Brown’s book so compelling is the exploration of what it means to be part of a rowing team.  Who creates the team?  Husky coaching icon Al Ulbrickson.  Who makes the team? Joe Rantz, for one.  Who inspires the team? Legendary boat builder George Pocock.  What does it take to make a successful team?  A comingling of found talent, hours of practice on Lake Washington in the pouring rain, healthy competition from your rival school the Cal Bears, and inspired leadership from your coach and brilliant coxswain Bobby Moch.  And what does it feel like to be part of a winning team?  The perfectly described notion of “swing,” which, when once accomplished with your fellow oarsman, allows you to fly across the water in perfect synchronicity.

“The Boys in the Boat” captures more than a moment in time.  It paints the picture of the Northwest on the brink, balancing between the old-fashioned notion of the Wild West and the boom times of the 1940s.  It depicts the ambition of the US Olympic committee members, who were determined to participate in the Olympics whether Jews were being persecuted in Germany or not (an attitude that may seem familiar even today).  But more than anything, Brown’s book emphasizes the importance of teams and teamwork.  For while all the boys felt like only a set of random circumstances landed them in that boat on the Langer See, their efforts not only defined them as adults, but also defined the Northwest as a center for athleticism, culture, and all-American can-do attitude.

Watch the 1936 Gold Medal Rowing race here.

ISBN: 978-0670025817

Available at the Washington State Library NW 979.123 Brown 2013
Audio book available through the publisher.

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The Drifter by Susan Wiggs

January 22nd, 2014 WSL NW & Special Collections Posted in Washington Reads No Comments »

bannerEBLA

The Drifter. By Susan Wiggs (Don Mills, Ont. : Mira, 2003?. 376 pp. Reprint Ed.)

Recommendation by:
Carolyn Petersen, Assistant Program Manager, Library Development, Tumwater, WA.

The town of Coupeville on Whidbey Island in 1894 is the setting for this historical romance.  Coupeville residents have reluctantly accepted female physician Leah Mundy as they don’t have many other options.  Leah guards her reputation and her heart until she wakes up to find a gun barrel in her face.  On the other end of the gun is Jackson Underhill who drags her to his sailboat to heal his female companion.  Both Leah and Jackson have secrets which complicate a budding romance. Susan Wiggs is a capable author who provides a good mix of historical detail, attractive characters and a strong plot to produce a sensual romantic read to enjoy on a cold winter evening.

ISBN-13: 978-0778300038

Available at the Washington State Library, NW 813.6 WIGGS 2003?
Available as an eReader edition.
Not available as an talking book, or as a Braille edition.
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