Thursday, January 31, 2008

Quote: Michael Pollan

"For some reason the image that stuck with me from that day was that slender blade of grass in a too big, wind-whipped pasture, burning all those calories just to stand up straight and keep its chloroplasts aimed at the sun. I'd always thought of the trees and grasses as antagonists--another zero-sum deal in which the gain of the one entails the loss of the other. To a point, this is true: More grass means less forest; more forest less grass. But either-or is a construction more deeply woven into our culture than into nature, where even antagonists depend on one another and the liveliest places are the edges, the in-betweens or both-ands. So it is with the blade of grass and the adjacent forest as, indeed, with all the species sharing this most complicated farm. Relations are what matter most, and the health of the cultivated turns on the health of the wild."

- Michael Pollan, The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals

The Omnivore's Dilemma is an amazing book. I'm two thirds of the way through at this point (Industrial/Corn and Pastoral/Grass, leaving only Personal/The Forest). In this chapter, Pollan has been visiting and working at Polyface farm, an incredibly sustainable "grass" farm where the end products of any one process are used to fuel the next and everything is interconnected. Farmer Joel Salatin has been explaining to him the importance of trees as windbreaks for the grass fields and how much energy is thereby saved for the actual growing of the plants.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A thicker picture book than usual...

Yesterday's American Library Association award announcements at the Philadelphia Convention Center included a bit of a surprise for the Caldecott: The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which is over 500 pages long! It's an excellent book. We're also excited to see that Elijah of Buxton, which is one of my Staff Picks, won a Coretta Scott King Award (having also recently won the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction)!

Further edification: On our Mt Airy and Beyond links page, we have links to the official web pages of a long list of book awards (including ALA), so you can always check there for current recommendations of outstanding books.