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  • November 2009
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NATIONAL GAMING DAY @ your library

3985161408_6cf8da18cb Hundreds of libraries across the country will be celebrating National Gaming Day this Saturday, November 14, 2009.  The American Library Association (ALA) is sponsoring this event. 

The National Gaming Day programs will include board games, card games, computer games and video games.  Did you know that games have been played in libraries for more than a hundred years? 

The Mt. Washington Branch Library’s National Gaming Day program will be held from 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM on Saturday.  Along with our regular monthly video game program for teens, we will be providing a variety of board games for kids and teens to play. 

So, what is your favorite board game?  Battleship?  Chess?  Clue?  Game of Life?  Pictureka?  Risk?  Scattergories?  Scrabble?  Sorry!?  Uno?  Yahtzee? 

One of my favorite games is Monopoly.   When I was in 8th grade, my friends and I would spend days playing  just one game of Monopoly during the summer. 

Here are some fun facts I found on the official Monopoly web page:

  • Over 250 million Monopoly games have been sold worldwide.
  • More than 5 billion little green houses have been “built” since 1935.
  • The longest Monopoly game in history lasted 70 straight days.  My friends and I only lasted 6 days.
  • Parker Brothers once sent an armored car with one million dollars of the Monopoly game money to a marathon game in Pittsburgh that had run out of money.
  • The total amount of money in a standard Monopoly game is $15,140.
  • The three most landed on properties are Illinois Avenue, “GO” and the B&O Railroad. 
  • The character locked behind the bars is called Jake the Jailbird.
  • There are 22 properties that can be built on.




August Wilson Center Opens

       If you don’t know who August Wilson is, you need to. He’s the most notable  playwright ever born in Pittsburgh. His Pittsburgh cycle is a series of ten plays that captures the spirit and cadence of  African -American life  during each decade of the twentieth century.  And he’s the only person ever to  receive his high school diploma from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

According to Contemporary Authors on infotrac, “Wilson felt his real education began when he was 16.” Before he entered high school, he grew up  in a 2-room apartment in mixed race community in the Hill District where people accepted one another. But that ended when he, his mother and five siblings  moved to Hazlewood.

He entered Central Catholic High School in 1959 as the only African-American student in the prestigous school. He was left notes everyday that said something like ,”Go home, Nigger.” Large groups of  guys waited to fight  him after school and his principal often sent him home  on a taxi. What the principal didn’t know, Wilson has said, is those same guys waited for him in the mornings. “I got in a lot of fights, ” he said  in Conversations with August Wilson.

He left Central Catholic to study auto mechanics at Connelly School but that class was full so he ended up making tin cups in metal sheeting. Half the day was spent in classes at the fifth grade level. Feeling unchallenged, Wilson  transfered to Gladstone High School. 

When a teacher accused him of having his sisters write a  term paper he did on Napoleon, Wilson walked out. He spent the next  two weeks playing basketball outside the principal’s office. He later admitted he hoped someone would come out of the school to see why he was there. No one ever did.

Wilson began educating himself at the Carnegie Library.  He sent poems to black publications at the University of Pittsbugh which published them. Eventually he wrote plays that received a Pulitzer Prize, a Tony Award and more.

The reason I’m writing about August Wilson, other than his life makes a remarkable story, is because The August Wilson Center for African-American Culture recently opened and  several of his plays are being performed during this week and next.  Here’s the schedule: http://www.augustwilsoncenter.org/events/index.php

Although you can read his plays, I hightly recommend seeing them. They’re not to everyone’s liking but I love their poetry, their mystical, mythical spiritualism coupled with down-to-earth characters living in historical times.

If you want to read some August Wilson for yourself, here’s a few of his plays:

FencesFences set in 1997


 Jitney set in 1977

Piano Lesson




    The  Piano Lesson set in 1936

The Psychological Thrill of Realistic Fiction

I was extremely blessed to grow up in an information-rich and censorship-free household. As a teen, I read a lot of edgy, arguably better-for-adults titles—nothing was off-limits to me. Some of my favorite authors were Margaret Atwood, Joyce Carol Oates, and Salman Rushdie. I devoured anything about the beat generation, particularly writings on my favorite, William Burroughs.

I did this because teen books always seemed so lame when I actually was a teenager—cheesy romances, beach reads, goody-two-shoes sci-fi and fantasy—with the notable exception of books by Robert Cormier. His books were fierce and complicated, filled with the moral nuances of life and an unflinching look at the way people experience them.

Robert Cormier once said in an interview that a driving force in his writing was his awareness that “innocence doesn’t provide immunity from evil.” If you are a lover of the perfect mix of realistic fiction and psychological thriller, check out these books:

13-year-old Paul discovers that he has an amazing gift: the ability to become invisible, the ability to fade. Would you read someone else’s diary if you had the chance? Listen to what your loved ones say about you behind closed doors? What terrible things will Paul discover as he invisibly snoops on others?

18-year-old Francis returns from WWII missing half his face. What kind of person would throw himself onto a grenade? And what will happen to that kind of person when he survives?

Eric, a juvenile to the criminal justice system, has just been released from jail after killing his mother and stepfather. He is also suspected of the murder of several young girls. What happens when handsome Eric meets desperate Lori? Can her love save him, or will Lori become just another one of Eric’s girls?

What happens when a nobody goes up against the most powerful guys in school? How much will it take to turn Jerry the victim into Jerry the abuser? How much does it take for you to become the person you hate?

Sara Dora, CLP-Hazelwood

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