Kelly Hand

New Free Release from J.K. Rowling

J.K Rowling has a new children’s book to share called The Ickabog. It’s not Harry Potter and it’s not about magic. It’s something entirely different. She wrote it years ago and read it her children as she was working on it. She had intended to publish it after the Harry Potter series, but decided to do some writing for adults instead. The Ickabog went up to the attic.

Then the pandemic happened. Wanting to do something special for children everywhere, she dusted the book off and gave it another read. She made some changes, re-read it to her now much older children, and then put some things back they way her children had remembered and loved them from before. The Ickabog will be released in print this coming November. But before that, starting today, she is releasing the book online for free. She will release a chapter or two at a time over the next 7 weeks.

In addition to sharing the book with everyone, she’s also encouraging children to send in illustrations for the book. The selected ones will appear in the print version when it is published.

Read all the details, and of course The Ickabog, at the official website for the book.

You can also read more about the Harry Potter series and J.K. Rowling herself in the library collection.

Scooby-Doo Because RFK?

Movies theaters have been closed for some time now. Many movie release dates have been delayed until audiences can once again gather in great numbers. But some productions have taken a different route and are bypassing the theater altogether, going straight to on-demand. This strategy proved quite successful for the recent on-demand release of the movie Trolls World Tour. The sequel made more money in 3 weeks on digital than the first Trolls movie made in 5 months in theaters. And I gotta say, I’m pretty excited about Lin-Manuel Miranda’s announcement this week that the Hamilton movie, originally scheduled for theatrical release in October of 2021, will be streaming on Disney+ this July 3rd!

Another movie going straight to on-demand tomorrow is Scoob!, the newest CGI feature film starring Scooby-Doo and the Mystery Inc. gang. Scooby-Doo has been enjoyed for generations in 16 television series, 2 live-action films, 35 direct-to-DVD movies, 20 video games, 13 comic book series and 5 stage shows. That’s quite a run. How this all began is pretty interesting.

In the 1960’s, children’s cartoons were becoming increasingly action-packed and violent. Society was becoming more and more concerned about the effects of media violence on children. Robert F. Kennedy, father of 11, had always been a champion of children’s causes. As Attorney General, he worked with the FCC to improve children’s programming. It was his assassination in June of 1968 that led to real change and to the creation of Scooby-Doo itself.

Hours after Kennedy was shot, President Johnson announced the formation of the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence. One of the things that came out of this was demand from groups all over the country to curb media violence. Looking out for children became a sort of tribute to Kennedy. This sent the creators of Saturday morning cartoons into a tailspin. In response to public demand, they suddenly had to move away from the scary, violent shows that had become their staple.

Hanna-Barbera, the largest children’s television animator at the time, answered this call with Scooby-Doo. Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? premiered on CBS on Sept. 13, 1969. The goofy talking Great Dane with his equally goofy best bud Shaggy, along with Daphne, Fred and Velma, stumbled upon adventures but they were never really in danger. The villains always turned out to be, not monsters, but regular humans in disguise. It was just what audiences needed at the time. The shows have kept this formula for decades and the gang has been solving mysteries in their groovy van ever since.

You can read more about children’s television, Robert F. Kennedy, and enjoy some Scooby-Doo comics in the MVCC Library resources.

Recently Discovered Shipwrecks

In just one week last month, two historic shipwrecks were unearthed on the shores of Lake Michigan. On April 20th, near Manistique, an early 20th century schooner was discovered. Rapidly on its heels, a mid 19th hull washed up near Ludington on April 24th.

The Great Lakes have served as a transportation and recreation hub for hundreds of years. Many areas of the lakes are quite treacherous to navigate and it is believed that upwards of 6,000 ships lie wrecked in their waters. The cold, fresh water found in the Great Lakes preserves the wreckage exceptionally well. Recent years have seen some of the highest water levels on record. This has resulted in shoreline erosion and the in washing up of more and more shipwrecks.

The map pictured above is a snapshot of an interactive map of shipwrecks in Michigan waters. You can explore the map and lots more information on this Michigan History Center Shipwrecks site. And the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, at Whitefish Point Light Station on Lake Superior, provides even more information about shipwrecks across all of the Great Lakes.

Find out more about the history and ecology of the Great Lakes and about shipwrecks in MVCC Library resources.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Cinco de Mayo commemorates the 1862 victory of the much smaller Mexican Army over the French Empire in the Battle of Puebla. Puebla, Mexico still celebrates this date with an art and food festival and battle re-enactments, but it’s in the United States where the day has really taken off. Over the years, Cinco de Mayo has become a much bigger celebration in the United States than in Mexico. Cities across the country honor Mexican-American culture, highlighting music, dance and food from our neighbor to the south. Celebratory gatherings won’t be happening this year, but we can still enjoy some Mexican food! The library as many e-cookbooks available for some delicious recipes. Click here to see our selection.

MVCC Jigsaws

Are you missing campus? Here’s a fun way to visit MVCC from afar. Below you will find 4 jigsaw puzzles that I created of scenes from campus. I used the website On the site you will find lots of puzzles that you can solve, with a new one added daily. You can also create a puzzle from a picture that you provide, making them as difficult or as easy as you like. I used the site to create some puzzles from family photos to send on Mother’s Day.

As you can see, these puzzles start out pretty easy and then get harder. Give them a try and reveal scenes from campus.

For Its Birthday, Hubble Is Celebrating Yours

This is an image of a small portion of the Cygnus Loop supernova remnant, which marks the edge of a bubble-like, expanding blast wave from a colossal stellar explosion that occurred about 15,000 years ago.

The Hubble Space Telescope just celebrated the 30th anniversary of its launch. A joint effort of NASA and the European Space Agency, Hubble orbits Earth from outside of the distorting effects of the atmosphere. This has allowed it to capture some amazing images and has led to unprecedented understanding of space.

Since April 24th 1990, Hubble has been in operation 24/7, gathering 1.4 million observations of things like exoplanets, and distant galaxies. The data collected have led to discoveries about black holes, gravitational waves, dark matter, and much more. It has spotted things both inside and outside of our solar system that were previously not known to exist.

NASA has collected 366 of its most stunning images and is showcasing them on its What Did Hubble See on Your Birthday website. Select a date and NASA will show you what it saw. You can share the image on social media using the hashtag #Hubble30.

You can also see some of Hubble’s amazing images and read more about the history and future of Hubble in this CNN article Hubble Space Telescope Celebrates 30 Years of Discoveries and Awe-Inspiring Images. Find out even more through the MVCC library collections on Hubble, space exploration, and astronomy. You can use the limiters on the left of your results to select e-resources.

Switch to Green Power

As part of our Earth Week explorations, we’ve been talking about different forms of climate action that we can take. The last piece that we’ll look at is energy.

Right now, stay at home orders and social distancing are having an effect on energy consumption. Numbers vary across regions, but electricity suppliers have seen usage rates drop between 2% and 18%. This gets even more interesting when you factor in the time of day of current electricity usage coinciding with peak times for solar activity. Read more about all of this and what camel and duck curves mean in this article from grist magazine:

How Coronavirus Is Changing Electricity Usage in 3 Charts

But, what about the rest of the time? While the amount of energy we use is important, so is the source of that energy. We’ve already looked at the harm that fossil fuel consumption does to the planet through the greenhouse effect. Use of renewable forms of energy, such as wind and solar power, can alleviate that harm. We are making progress. Ten years ago, renewable energy sources made up 10% of electricity use. This year they’ll make up 20%. How can we get that number even higher?

Adding solar panels to your house or business is one way to accomplish this. In Illinois, Com Ed’s My Green Power Connection is a place to start for information on generating your own power and connecting to the energy grid.

Another way is by switching to a green energy provider. ComEd offers you a choice in electricity supplier. They will still bring the electricity to your house, but that electricity will come from the company that you choose. Find out more here. You can compare this list of certified green energy providers to the list of companies that ComEd works with.

Read more about solar power, wind power, hydropower, and geothermal energy in the MVCC Library Catalog and Databases.

Find Your Foodprint

Yesterday as part of our Earth Week exploration, we looked at carbon footprints. Part of what goes into a carbon footprint is food that we eat—foodprint.

Foods are a large contributor to the build up of greenhouse gases that are warming the planet. Agriculture is responsible for almost a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions, with animal agriculture making up about 80% percent of this. These emissions from animal agriculture result in an even bigger impact because a by-product of animal agriculture is methane gas, which has over 23 times the impact on the planet that carbon dioxide does. Animal agriculture also takes huge amounts of water and is a leading cause of deforestation, the problem that we looked at earlier in the week. Besides greenhouse gas emissions, consumption of natural resources, and land use, other things come into play with all types of agriculture, such as storage, and transportation.

When we look at all of these things together, we can come up a foodprint. Knowing about the different amounts of impact from various foods can be helpful when climate action is our goal. Try a foodprint calculator to learn about how the foodprint of beef compares to that of chicken, and how various types of produce compare to nuts and so on.  

Find even out more by reading through the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report Climate Change and Land. Consult the MVCC Library for even more resources on plant-based eating, and sustainable agriculture.

And here’s an interesting idea from The Atlantic.

What if Everyone Ate Beans Instead of Beef?

Calculate Your Carbon Footprint

Today is Earth Day 2020, the 50th Earth Day! Don’t forget to head over to and EarthDayAtHome with NASA to check out all the activities.

For our Earth Week exploration today, we’re looking at one suggested climate action—reducing our carbon footprint. We hear a lot about carbon footprint, but what is it exactly and what can we do about it?

Carbon is an element that exists in all living things, with humans being 18% carbon and plants 45%. Dead plants and animals, over millions of years, have been heated and pressurized in the earth, producing coal, oil, and natural gas—fossil fuels. When fossils fuels are burned, the carbon is released and combines with oxygen in the air to form carbon dioxide.

Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas which traps heat close to Earth and keeps the planet warm. Without it, the Sun’s energy would leak back out to space. So, we definitely need carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases for our planet to be habitable. But, fossils fuels that were created over millions of years have been released back into the atmosphere over just a couple hundred years. This has led to too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, trapping too much heat, making the planet warmer and warmer.

We need for there to be less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, trapping less heat. We looked at one way for this to happen yesterday when we talked about needing more trees on the planet, since plants remove carbon dioxide from the air. But that’s not enough. We also need to produce fewer greenhouse gases. This brings us to a way to measure how much greenhouse gas is released into the atmosphere by human activity, or carbon footprint.

Different activities, directly or indirectly, result in different amounts of greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere. Burning fossil fuels releases the most, so travel adds quite a lot to our carbon footprint. But even things like eating do as well, since farms produce methane, another greenhouse gas. We’ll look at foods more closely tomorrow.

Knowing what the carbon footprint is for a person, household, business or even country and what goes into that carbon footprint makes us more aware of ways to possibly reduce that carbon footprint. There are carbon footprint calculators that help us figure this out. Here’s a good one to try. It looks at your travel, home, food consumption, and shopping. You may even want to try it twice—once for your regular life activities and once for right now while staying home for an extended period. Read more about how social distancing is shrinking our carbon footprint:

Coronavirus Shrinks Carbon Footprints, But Can We Keep It Up?

To find out more about human activity and its affect on the planet check out these MVCC Library resources.

Trees for Life

“When we plant trees, we plant the seeds of peace and hope.” –Wangari Maathai

Earth Day 2016 was all about trees. With a theme of “Trees for Life: Let’s Get Planting”, the goal was to plant 7.8 billion trees, one for every person, by this year’s 50th Earth Day. People around the world have been hard at work doing just that. Ethiopia holds the record by planting over 353 million trees in just 12 hours this past July.

Trees are vital to the health of the planet. Trees clean our air and produce oxygen. Among other pollutants, they absorb carbon dioxide which is a contributor to the greenhouse effect. Deforestation across the globe has contributed to rising temperatures. Rising temperatures have contributed to increased wildfires. Wildfires increase carbon emissions by releasing the carbon stored in trees and soil. Fires are not the only thing contributing to the Earth’s diminishing tree cover to be sure, but there is a vicious cycle involved here. Fewer trees have led to higher temperatures, which have led to even fewer trees.

There are lots of actions that should be taken to combat climate change. Planting trees can part of the solution. In addition to planting a tree yourself, there are many ways to be a part the tree planting effort. At the Arbor Day Foundation, you can take a quiz to see how many trees to plant to offset your carbon footprint. (We’ll talk more about carbon footprints tomorrow.) Some other tree planting organizations are: 8 Billion Trees, One Tree Planted, The National Forest Foundation, Trees for the Future, and the Green Belt Movement, just to name a few. The Green Belt Movement is an interesting one. The indigenous, grassroots organization was founded in Nairobi in 1977 by Wangari Maathai. She was the first women to earn a PhD in Eastern Africa and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her work with the Green Belt Movement.

Learn more about trees, forest fires, and rain forests using the Library Catalog or the Library Databases.

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