Friday, November 30, 2012

From Books to Screen: The Hobbit!

One of my favorite books, having read it in 5th grade: The Hobbit! This story features the exploits of Bilbo Baggins (Frodo's uncle) many years before the events in the Lord of the Rings. It's a bit more of a rollicking epic than the Rings books which were heavy both in plot and tone. J.R.R. Tolkien's first tale is much lighter affair, featuring a dozen or so dwarves with rhyming names, a bunch of nasty beasts to fight, and some old favorites like Gandalf the wizard and Gollum.

This tale of little folk on a grand adventure sends Bilbo, a hobbit of the Shire, reluctantly on an epic quest (as hired by his pal Gandalf) with a his dwarf companions. They're off to reclaim a treasure hoarded by the dragon Smaug beneath the bowels of the Misty Mountain.

Though there is only a single book for The Hobbit, director Peter Jackson has said there will be three films, which will include some additional material Tolkien had written afterwards. Here's the trailer for the first film set to premiere mid-December:

Now's the time to come pick up the story and see how it fares against Jackson's on-screen vision. If you hurry to the pick it up now, you could be "there and back again" before it hits theaters!

A brand new copy of The Hobbit is waiting for you in the Library of Justice!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

From Books to Screen: Life of Pi

NOW! IN THEATERS! The Life of Pi, based on the book by Yann Martel, is the holiday season movie that everyone is talking about! Once thought to be "virtually unfilmable" the movie is now being lauded for the visually stunning manner in which it tells this dramatic tale. From the back cover:
Pi Patel, a God-loving boy and the son of a zookeeper, has a fervent love of stories and practices not only his native Hinduism, but also Christianity and Islam. When Pi is sixteen, his family and their zoo animals emigrate from India to North America aboard a Japanese cargo ship. Alas, the ship sinks--and Pi finds himself in a lifeboat, his only  companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and a 450-pound Bengal tiger. Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi. Can Pi and the tiger find their way to land? Can Pi's fear, knowledge, and cunning keep him alive until they do?
This beloved story can now be enjoyed in your own imagination AND on the silver screen! Which do you think you'd enjoy more? Can movies ever really capture the essence of a book? Check out The Life of Pi from the Library of Justice and then make your way to the theater to see director Ang Lee's interpretation:

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

From Books to Screen: Master And Commander!

Starting today through the next few days we'll be featuring books that went on to make it big in Hollywood! We're kicking it off with Patrick O'Brian's Master And Commander, the first in a series of novels following the seafaring exploits of Captain Jack Aubrey of the British Navy. O'Brian's stories are known for their rigorous historical accuracy when it comes to crafting the 19th century. From the back cover:
This, the first in the splendid series of Jack Aubrey novels, establishes the friendship between Captain Aubrey, R. N., and Stephen Maturin, ships surgeon and intelligence agent, against the thrilling backdrop of the Napoleonic wars. Details of life aboard a man-of-war in Nelson's navy are faultlessly rendered: the conversational idiom of the officers in the ward room and the men on the lower deck, the food, the floggings, the mysteries of the wind and the rigging, and the roar of broadsides as the great ships close in battle.
The novel (and some of its sequels) later served as the basis for the film version staring Russel Crowe (which, incidentally, is one of my favorite movies!). Here's a look at the trailer:

So sail on over and check out the novel that started it all--Master And Commander is now available in the Library of Justice!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

JUST ADDED: New Superhero books and comics!

The Library of Justice received not one, but TWO packages packed with super-powered donations recently....

The first is a fresh batch of classic comics from Eric in Salina, Kansas, which included single issues of Batman: Shadow of the Bat, Iron Man, Sword of the Atom, Richie Rich, and others:

The second delivery comes from Jeny in Houston, Texas, who also is a librarian (like, with a real Masters in Library Sciences and everything!) and sent these library-quality hardcover DC superheroes books for young ones:

Click images to enlarge 

Thanks for the generous donations--you guys are real heroes of literacy! Several of these are now available in the Library of Justice. Single issues on the secret comic shelf, hard-backs on the main shelf.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Peanuts Election Day comic now in stock!

Happy Election Day! 

For those of you 18 or older we hope you exercised your right to vote today. If not, then get out there and cast your ballot! For those voters-to-be or young-at-heart voters, stop by the Library of Justice today and grab the Peanuts Election Issue we just added to the comics shelf!

Cast your vote for Charlie Brown or Freida!

There's a whole write-in campaign for Pig Pen and well--it's all political, so you just have to come check it out!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Building the Library of Justice: Part 2 - Construction

Once we had our blueprints carefully sketched by friend and architect Joe Allen, we were ready to begin the most exciting part....

Armed with Joe's designs, I traveled to Wisconsin where my father-in-law Jon has graciously agreed to help build the library. Here's our reference material on the tailgate of his truck.

Jon has years of carpentry experience as well as the tools (and some leftover lumber!) to do the job. He and I begin cutting a 5/8" piece of plywood for the walls, floor, and roof of the library...

The mantra Jon recited (and the lesson for me) "Measure twice, cut once!"

More cutting. I get to hold stuff!

I also saw some sawing action...

Jon realized during construction that we'll need some additional support on the bottom to provide support for the super, secret comics shelf, so we made a quick adjustment to by adding two 2" x 2" pieces that would act as bracers.

Glue, but which nails to use? (Wood screws.)

The main body of the library begins to take shape...

Nailing on the back was tricky because it was very easy to miss the board you're nailing into and end up with an unseated nail which could also splinter the board. I signed on as nail spotter...

The paparazzi are made...

Another discovery during construction (and an important one at that) since the entire facade is the door, we'll need to reinforce the side the hinges will be fastened to.

Jon wisely recommends reinforcing both sides so we can add the latch (latch type was undetermined at this point) and to give added support to the roof.

The comics shelf is a perfect fit!

Some clamps help keep the new roof supports in place while Jon attaches them...

The roof goes on! I do more nail spotting to make sure they all go in...

We also grab a few books to test out the inside dimensions. When Joe was drawing up the plans, I'd asked for a minimum interior height of 12 inches...which we easily accomodated.

With the body of the library complete, we begin working on the facade/door. But it's late in the day, so we made some (very) rough marks on the door panel. For my money, this is the hardest part because if the proportions are off, it won't look right--whether we have a blueprint or not.

Jon measures to be sure we're making the door's "pillars" wide enough. It's difficult to describe why this is so important. Essentially, if the side "pillars" of the facade are too wide, then the window will look too small and out of proportion. If the pillars are too narrow, it will basically be a big glass door with little resemblance to the Hall of Justice.

We end here for the day.

A week or two later, Jon drops off the body and the door for sanding and painting by me. I've not seen the door until now...

IT'S FANTASTIC! Seriously, I didn't expect it to look this accurate or sturdy, if only because of the difficulty in getting the arch to look so good. And the side pillars are perfect. He did an amazing job!

Per Jon's instructions, I give each two coats of paint that has been mixed to match our house. Though I begged to paint superheroes all over it, I was informed by my better half that it should consider the relative curb appeal of our residence. So I took an leftover piece of our house siding to the hardware store and returned with a can of cool blue/gray.
Facade, first coat in progress:

I don't think I've painted anything since I was 16 years old so, I went slowly and used a cloth to minimize goopiness. Here's a look at my shoddy work:

With painting complete, we return to Wisconsin to nail on the shingles and get the hardware (hinges, latch, etc.). The library is also measured so we can determine how big the base and post support will need to be.

If you look carefully in that last photo, inside at the top of the arch, you'll see another support Jon added to keep the roof level (the shingles add a lot of extra weight). You can also see the plexiglass window has been added (that was a nightmare to cut out).

Don't worry, for you little free library construction fans out there, we'll do a full diagram walk-through of the library in the final post with some additional images.

That's it for now--next up in the series: The Door!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Building the Library of Justice: Part 1 - Planning

The FIRST thing that everyone asks after seeing the Library of Justice is "how did you build it?" which is usually met by a very abbreviated story of the process, people and time involved. But we promised to do it--er, justice, so here's the full story!

When we were looking to purchase our first home we'd learned about little free libraries and the benefits they bring to neighborhoods. For me though, it was like lightning had struck! Right away I began to think about the potential for an LFL dedicated to comics.

Emily's father, Jon, agreed to help with construction. After discussion, we decided we needed a sketch to work from....

Having little-to-no draughtsman skills I asked our good friend and architect Joe Allen to help provide a working blueprint for Jon and I to use as a guide. Not only did Joe come through, he provided two unique versions with varied proportions to give us the most flexibility in the construction phase--which proved to be a wise decision.

To start, I gave Joe a few images I'd printed from various sources including still shots of the Hall of Justice from the Superfriends TV show, an action figure playset, and a fan-made creation that had an exceptionally well proportioned facade--as well as images of the REAL building that inspired it all, the  Cincinnati Union Station (yes, it's an actual building!) upon which the comic version was originally based.

Below are a few images of Joe plying his trade, sketching the first draft of the library to what we consider "factually accurate" for the building. The problem we eventually discovered is it would have made for a really wide shelf (we called this the "wide version").


Joe takes careful measurements to ensure our proportions are right...

Joe did an alternate "tall" version, based loosely on the playset that would be more squared-off.

I'd originally thought the doors would be inside the facade. But after working on some isometric views of the box, Joe realizes that the entire facade will need to be the door to the library if we want it to be accurate. This means heavy-duty hinges are in store!

More to come, stay tuned for Part 2 - Construction!