Fifty years ago this month, The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton was published. This classic in teen literature tells the story of young men in two competing gangs, the Greasers and the Socs. Set in Tulsa, Oklahoma, it is a gritty, raw look at a teenage rivalry which turns deadly.
The novel inspired a 1983 film adaptation directed by Francis Ford Coppola. It starred unknown young actors who would go on to great fame, including Tom Cruise, Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, Diane Lane, Emilio Estevez, C. Thomas Howell, Ralph Macchio and Matt Dillon.
The Outsiders remains a cultural touchstone. Since 1967, over 15 million copies have been sold. It is a regular required read for middle and high school students and has been translated into 30 languages. According to fanfiction.net, there are 8,100 stories based on the book. And Instagram has more than 300,000 posts which use the hashtag #staygold, an inspiration from a Robert Frost poem that appears in the book.
Hinton was 16 when the book was published and had no idea the impact her novel would have on generations of teens. Hinton told Entertainment Weekly last year, “I was 15 when I started writing the book, but I was even younger when I first started thinking about the story, so The Outsiders has been a significant part of the majority of my life.”
Patricia McKissack, award-winning author of more than 100 books for children, died at the age of 72 in her hometown of Chesterfield, a suburb of St. Louis. Born on August 9, 1944 in Smyrna, Tennessee, Patricia was inspired by her mother’s poetry reading and her grandparents’ storytelling to become a writer. Her family moved to Nashville where she graduated high school at age 16. She studied English at Tennessee A&I State University and also met her future husband and writing partner, Fredrick.
The pair shared a “missionary zeal” to write about African American characters “where there hadn’t been any before,” their eldest son Fredrick McKissack Jr. said yesterday. The McKissacks were at the forefront of creating diversity in children’s literature in race, geographical setting and social consciousness. Young readers of all ages are able to travel the world with Patricia’s books, which take children from the Deep South in America to Africa and span centuries. McKissack wrote in a wide range of genres, from historical fiction to science fiction, poetry to biography, all in an attempt to provide every young reader with a book which would spark interest and appeal.
Patricia’s work was popular with readers and also critically lauded. Her awards included a Newbery Honor and nine Coretta Scott King Author and Honor awards. In 2014, Patricia and Fredrick’s work was recognized for its lasting contribution to literature with the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement. A lifelong library lover, Patricia’s picture book Goin’ Someplace Special is a semi-autobiographical story of her weekly visits to her public library as a girl. In an interview about this beautiful book, she reflected, “The library was the doorway to freedom, to free thought when you're being told, ‘You can't, you can't, you can't, you can't.’ The library said, ‘You can, you can, you can, you can,’ and I did!” Be sure to check out some of her memorable books from this dedicated and important author in children’s literature.
Sarah Lohman is a historical gastronomist who immerses herself in her work. In Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine, Lohman selects eight flavors found most frequently in American recipes. (She found 10, but excluded coffee and chocolate because she felt so much had been written about each.) Beginning in archives and searching through economic and scientific records, Lohman studies cookbooks and manuscripts dating back to the 18th century to discover when each of the flavor profiles first appeared in American kitchens and why.
The eight flavors uniting our vast melting pot of a country are black pepper, vanilla, curry powder, chili powder, soy sauce, garlic, MSG and Sriracha. Lohman introduces the explorers, merchants, farmers and chefs who influenced our culinary story. Unknown figures dot this fascinating history. John Crowninshield was a New England merchant who traveled to Sumatra in the 1790s in search of black pepper. Edmond Albius was a 12-year-old slave who lived on an island off the coast of Madagascar and discovered the technique still used to pollinate vanilla orchids today. Sriracha was the creation of David Tran, a Vietnamese refugee who combined elements of French and Thai cuisine and, using peppers grown on a farm north of Los Angeles, produced a hot sauce whose sales now exceed $60 million.
Recipes, research and illustrations all serve to illuminate the reader on the history of the flavors, each of which comprise a chapter in the book. Lohman also shares her personal adventures with the ingredients, and readers will be compelled to try some of the recipes (updated to modern tastes) such as Thomas Jefferson’s French Vanilla Ice Cream or the Rosemary House Garlic Carrot Cake. In an interview, Lohman noted that researching the book "really upended my idea of these flavors that always stood on the shelf in my kitchen. I would always pick up a pepper grinder or a bottle of vanilla extract and would never think about what it was and where it came from."
Meet Sarah Lohman at the Arbutus Branch on April 13 at 7 p.m. Copies of her book will be available for sale at a book signing following the program. Don’t come hungry! This program is just one of the many events scheduled for BC Reads: Eat Up!, BCPL’s month-long community discussion promoting reading and the arts.
Ian Purkayastha’s background is unusual for a powerful player in the world of fine dining. He shares his remarkable story and the crazy adventures along the way in Truffle Boy: My Unexpected Journey Through the Exotic Food Underground. The son of an Indian immigrant father and a Texan mother, Ian was 15 when his family left Houston for rural Arkansas. While he'd always loved cooking and eating well, it was his uncle, an avid outdoorsman, who taught him how to forage for wild mushrooms. When he first tasted a black truffle ravioli dish with foie gras sauce, he was instantly obsessed with the earthy, unusual truffle flavor.
Truffle Boy is part coming-of-age story, part elite restaurant tell-all, part travelogue. Readers journey with Ian from Manhattan to Oregon, from Serbia to Hungary. The characters met along this adventure are larger than life, ranging from shady businessmen to raving chefs to colorful gypsies. Despite setbacks and failures, Ian rebounds and achieves astonishing success at a young age in a ruthless world. He now owns Regalis, a specialty food company, which sells not only truffles but also caviar, wild mushrooms, Wagyu beef and other nearly unobtainable ingredients demanded by his Michelin-starred clients.
In a recent interview, Ian encouraged those who haven’t tried this delicacy to do so. “I would say if someone is wanting to try an ingredient that literally smells like nothing else you've ever had, then the truffle is the ingredient for them. Truffles have been, you know, lustful and highly regarded for centuries for having this intoxicating aroma and flavor. So I would definitely encourage interested, adventuresome eaters to seek out truffles.”
Meet Ian Purkayastha at the Towson Branch on April 9 at 2 p.m., where he will be in conversation with Doug Wetzel, the executive chef at Gertrude’s at the BMA. This program is just one of the many events scheduled for BC Reads: Eat Up!, BCPL’s month-long community discussion promoting reading and the arts.
Even novice chefs won’t be intimidated by Korean cooking thanks to Robin Ha’s inventive and colorful introduction to the basics behind this challenging cuisine. In Cook Korean!, Ha instructs the readers in a charming and unique graphic novel format containing recipes and ingredient profiles narrated by a lively character named Dengki.
Vibrant, humorous comics illustrate all the steps and ingredients necessary for 64 recipes. Her presentation is concise, with no more than two pages devoted to any one recipe. The book is divided into 10 sections with subjects ranging from snacks to street food to, of course, kimchi. Even those unfamiliar with Korean food have probably heard of kimchi, which Ha calls "an indispensable part of any Korean meal." This cookbook stands out from others because of the illustrations, but also because Ha shares cultural context in an introduction to each section, in addition to listing recipes.
Ha, a professional cartoonist and amateur chef, gained online popularity for her Tumblr, Banchan in Two Pages, a weekly comic with illustrated instructions on how to make specific Korean dishes. Ha spent more time drawing comics for Marvel than in the kitchen and is not a graduate of culinary school. She started cooking as an adult when friends asked her to cook Korean food for them. She wants you to know if she can cook Korean, so can you. "I know what it's like to be afraid of cooking, because I was like that most of my life," she says.
Meet Robin Ha at the Catonsville Branch tonight, April 4, at 6:30 p.m., where she will talk about her book, her art and her love of food. This program is just one of the many events scheduled for BC Reads: Eat Up!, BCPL’s month-long community discussion promoting reading and the arts.