Thursday, December 19, 2019

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The Wonders: The Extraordinary Performers Who Transformed the Victorian Age

John Woolf

On March 23, 1844, General Tom Thumb, just 25 inches tall, entered the Picture Gallery at Buckingham Palace and bowed low to Queen Victoria. On both sides of the Atlantic, this meeting marked a tipping point in the nineteenth century, and the age of the freak was born.

Bewitching all levels of society, it was a world of curiosities and astonishing spectacle—of dwarfs, giants, bearded ladies, Siamese twins, and swaggering showmen. But the real stories—human dramas that so often eclipsed the fantasy presented on the stage—of the performing men, women and children, have been forgotten or marginalized in the histories of the very people who exploited them.

In this richly evocative account, John Woolf uses a wealth of recently discovered material to bring to life the sometimes tragic, sometimes triumphant, always extraordinary stories of people who used their (dis)abilities and difference to become some of the first international celebrities.

Through their lives we discover afresh some of the great transformations of the age: the birth of show business, of celebrity, of advertising, and of "alternative facts" while also exploring the tensions between the power of fame, the impact of exploitation, and our fascination with "otherness."

Nonfiction. Call number: 791.109 Woo. View in our catalog

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The Goodness Paradox: The Strange Relationship Between Virtue and Violence in Human Evolution

Richard Wrangham

We Homo sapiens can be the nicest of species and also the nastiest. What occurred during human evolution to account for this paradox? What are the two kinds of aggression that primates are prone to, and why did each evolve separately? How does the intensity of violence among humans compare with the aggressive behavior of other primates? How did humans domesticate themselves? And how were the acquisition of language and the practice of capital punishment determining factors in the rise of culture and civilization?

Authoritative, provocative, and engaging, The Goodness Paradox offers a startlingly original theory of how, in the last 250 million years, humankind became an increasingly peaceful species in daily interactions even as its capacity for coolly planned and devastating violence remains undiminished. In tracing the evolutionary histories of reactive and proactive aggression, biological anthropologist Richard Wrangham forcefully and persuasively argues for the necessity of social tolerance and the control of savage divisiveness still haunting us today.

Nonfiction. Call number: 155.9 Wra. View in our catalog

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... And Other Disasters

Malka Older

This smart and moving collection of short fiction and poetry from acclaimed author Malka Older, examines otherness, identity and compassion across a spectrum of possible existence. In stories about an AI built for empathy, a corps of fighting midwives traveling to a new planet, and a young anthropologist who returns to study the cultures of a dying Earth, Older's characters grapple with what it means to belong and be othered, to cling to the past and face the future, all while navigating a precarious world, riddled with natural and man-made disasters.

Science fiction. Call number: SCIFIC Old. View in our catalog

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Dig.

A. S. King

The Shoveler, the Freak, CanIHelpYou?, Loretta the Flea-Circus Ring Mistress, and First-Class Malcolm. These are the five teenagers lost in the Hemmings family's maze of tangled secrets. Only a generation removed from being Pennsylvania potato farmers, Gottfried and Marla Hemmings managed to trade digging spuds for developing subdivisions and now sit atop a seven-figure bank account—wealth they've declined to pass on to their adult children or their teenage grandchildren. "Because we want them to thrive," Marla always says. What does thriving look like? Like carrying a snow shovel everywhere. Like selling pot at the Arby's drive-thru window. Like a first-class ticket to Jamaica between cancer treatments. Like a flea-circus in a double-wide. Like the GPS coordinates to a mound of dirt in a New Jersey forest. As the rot just beneath the surface of the Hemmings' precious suburban respectability begins to spread, the far-flung grandchildren gradually find their ways back to one another, just in time to uncover the terrible cost of maintaining the family name.

With her inimitable prose and keen insight into teenage experience, A.S. King explores how a corrosive culture of polite, affluent white supremacy tears a family apart and how one determined generation can save themselves.

Teen fiction. Call number: YA FIC Kin. View in our catalog

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Side by Side: A Celebration of Dads

Chris Raschka

King and Jester, Boat and Captain, Mountain and Climber... fathers and children are all of these things and more in Chris Raschka's tribute to this familial pair. Each stanza presents three scenarios in which the father and child's roles are subtly balanced. The pairs vary between stanzas, coming together in a visit to an ice-cream truck. With minimal text and maximum emotion, the book encapsulates Raschka's own passion and nostalgia for being a father to his (now-grown) son.

Youth easy book. Call number: J EASY Ras. View in our catalog

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