Best Documentaries of 2014

Blockbusters and TV get all the attention, but tucked away on our DVD shelves in the non-fiction section, where truth can be inspiring, scary, and a whole lot stranger than fiction, are some really wonderful documentaries from last year. Below are just three, but here's a longer list of the notable and award-winning non-fiction films we bought in 2014.

In The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden Darwin meets Hitchcock in this true-crime tale of paradise found and lost when filmmakers Dan Geller and Dayna Godfine revisit a strange 1930s murder mystery that begins when a Berlin doctor and his mistress start a new life on the uninhabited Floreana Island in the Galapagos.

Life According to Sam is the heart-rending but stirring story of Sam Berns, a 16-year-old born with the rare and fatal rapid-aging disease progeria, who is nevertheless determined to play in his school's band.

Freedom Summer traces the passion and anguish of ten weeks in the summer of 1964 known as Freedom Summer, when 700 student volunteers joined local organizers and African Americans to face violence and death in Mississippi.

Freddie Fernortner Series by Jonathan Rand

Local author Jonathan Rand of the popular American Chillers and Michigan Chillers series for children, has a series for younger readers called Freddie Fernortner: Fearless First Grader. The twelve book series can now be found at AADL!

The Freddie books feature a mix of spooky and silly aimed at early chapter book readers. Take a look if you’re looking for a new chapter book series by a very likeable Michigan author.

The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend

Every so often, you find a book that is so brilliant that you can't help but immediately pass it on. When I first read The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, I knew that I had found something special.

In the story, we meet little Beekle: an imaginary friend. In Beekle's world, all imaginary friends are born on a far away island where they wait to be imagined by a real child. One by one, all of his fellow imaginary friends are chosen by their child-- except Beekle. He waits and waits for his perfect partner, dreaming of all the fun activities they will do together... but no one comes for him. One day, tired of being the only little friend left on the island, Beekle does the unimaginable: he sets out in search of his new perfect partner on his own! Beekle travels to the real world where he experiences a bit of culture shock: the big city is nothing like the imaginary island he left behind. Beekle faces many challenges and set backs, all with the hope that he will one day find his new best friend.

What really stood out the first time I read this story were the beautiful and vibrant illustrations. These brightly-colored and delightful illustrations perfectly tell the story of Beekle's struggle to find his new best friend, and includes many small details within the bigger picture. Beekle's journey emphasizes going after what you want, being brave and taking risks. This is a heart-warming story about finding love and happiness. For other fun stories written or illustrated by Dan Santat, check out The Guild of Geniuses, The Three Ninja Pigs, and Oh No! or How My Science Project Destroyed the World

PreK Bits - "S" is for Snow

Ms Rachel played with "S" words and "Snow Stories" in Preschool Storytime.

TEN On The SLED by Kimberly Norman. A counting, singing, action-packed story of animals on a sled.
"Five Fat Snow People All In A Row" is a rhythm and counting rhyme of snowpeople melting into puddles.
If you like to sing along with songs, try John McCutcheon's CD WINTERSONGS or sing along with fingerplays in Gari Stein's CD WINTER FUN.
A PERFECT DAY by Carin Berger, reviews all the things the kids did in the snow one day.

If you like SNOW and you like STORIES then try some more of Ms. Rachel's favorite titles:
YOU MAKE ME SMILE by Layn Marlow.
RED SLED by Lita Judge.
IF IT'S SNOWY And YOU KNOW IT CLAP YOUR HANDS by Kim Norman.
The MISSING MITTEN MYSTERY by Steven Kellogg.
OVER And UNDER The SNOW by Kate Messner. Who lives over and who lives under the snow line?
SUPER SNOW DAY SEEK And FIND by Michael Garland, a picture puzzle book.
KATY And The BIG SNOW, a classic by Virginia Lee Burton. See the traffic lined up on the town road behind Katy the Snow Plow.
"Little Snowflake"is a favorite little video of mine.
And my favorite "Snowtime" DVD of all time is The SNOWMAN based on the book by Raymond Briggs.

Now ... where DO the missing mittens go?

The "It's All Write!" Contest Is Now Accepting Submissions!

The 23rd "It's All Write!" Teen Short Story Contest has officially begun! Writers in grades 6-12 may enter their short story today through Friday, March 13.

Whether you are new to the contest or are a returning writer, you may find these Frequently Asked Questions helpful:

Q: Can I use a story that I've already written in class?
A: Yes, as long as it is not already published in print or online.

Q: Do I have to write about a certain topic or theme?
A: You can write about whatever you would like!

Q: How do I start writing a story?
A: The writing resources guide features several websites to help you get started.

Q: Is this contest just for Ann Arbor students?
A: The "It's All Write" contest is for any teen writer who wishes to enter, even if they live in another state or country!

Q: Who are the contest judges?
A: The judges change every year, so keep an eye on our website to find out who is on this year's panel.

For more information, please visit the contest website! Happy writing!

Taco Tuesday!

It’s taco Tuesday! What are you making for dinner? Taco Tuesday has been around for a while, but it seemed to pick up steam with families after last spring’s Lego Movie. What’s taco Tuesday? It’s pretty much just making it a point to dine on tacos on a Tuesday. Pretty genius, if you ask me. Because tacos are awesome!

Tacos can be simple or elaborate. Nachos? They count. Walking tacos? They totally count. Burritos? Get on it!

Looking for some ways to spice up taco night at your house? Check out some of the cookbooks with oodles of taco recipes available at the library! So many tacos! And hey, tacos are good any day of the week!

Dos Caminos Tacos: Recipes for Everyone's Favorite Mexican Street Food

Tacos: 75 Authentic and Inspired Recipes

Vegan Tacos: Authentic & Inspired Recipes for Mexico's Favorite Street Food

Amor y Tacos: Modern Mexican Tacos, Margaritas, and Antojitos

Tacos, Tortas, and Tamales: Flavors From the Griddles, Pots, and Streetside Kitchens of Mexico

Here’s a quick list of additional taco-tastic titles.

Drop in for Valentine's Day die-cutting crafts now through February 20 at the Downtown Library!

Visit the Downtown library anytime through February 20 to create your own Valentine's Day papercrafts. This is your chance to get your hands on the same die-cutting machines that you can borrow from our new Art Tools collection while making some cool decorations and cards that you get to take home!

Die-cutting works by placing the material to be cut, like paper, felt or craft metal on top of a die that contains safety foam and a razor sharp blade. You then run it through a roller press which gently presses the material to be cut down through the foam and onto the razor sharp blade, allowing you to produce some very intricate designs. We're supplying construction paper & glue, but If you want to get super fancy or make something in large quantities you are also welcome to bring in your own decorative paper and supplies. Hollander's is just a quick walk down 4th Ave!

Look for the Art Tools craft table near the first floor Information Desk at the Downtown library.

Grab a scope for tonight's asteroid fly-by!

Want to see a mountain-sized asteroid tonight from your own backyard? If so, your best bet is to fix a small telescope on something in its path and wait for it to fly past. In this case, look for the open cluster M44, known as the Beehive Cluster, in the constellation Cancer; it's about halfway between Jupiter and Pollux. The asteroid will be flying near it between about 12:45 and 1:00 a.m. tonight, January 27. Here are some observing tips.

So quick, run in and grab a scope (we have some handy right now at the Downtown branch) and set yourself up!

Foxcatcher

In this true story, Olympic wrestling champion brothers, Mark and Dave Schultz, join Team Foxcatcher led by multimillionaire sponsor John E. du Pont as they train for the 1988 Olympic games. Foxcatcher tells the story of du Pont’s madness and how it inevitably negatively impacts the brothers, their success and their lives. Foxcatcher is based on the novel written by Mark Schultz about his brother and their time with du Pont.

In a change of pace, funnyman Steve Carell offers an amazing dramatic performance as the mentally ill du Pont, and it’s quite intense to watch, but fascinating and cerebral at the same time.

Foxcatcher was nominated for three Golden Globes, including Best Picture. And is also nominated for five Oscars, including a Best Actor nomination for Carell, Best Supporting Actor for Mark Ruffalo and Best Director for Bennett Miller.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #509 - “You can't fly if your wings are holding the baggage of yesterday...” ~ Steve Maraboli

The weather outside is frightful. All the more reason to curl up with Dictatorship of the Dress * * by ex-librarian Jessica Topper.

It looks like everyone loves a bride-to-be. Former Marvel Comics illustrator Laney Hudson, recipient of unexpected kindness and first-class upgrade is not about to tell anyone that the 10-lb. pearl & lace confection inside the blue-and-silver-satin garment bag does not belong to her. She has been asked to deliver it to Hawaii for her mother's fairytale nuptial and to prove, once and for all that she is capable of doing something right.

At a Chicago layover, a massive snowstorm cancels all flights out, stranding Laney and her first class seatmate "tech-boy" (on account of his endless parade of gadgets) whom, the airline crew has mistaken to be her groom. This is when Laney's little white lie turns into a hot mess.

En route to his Vegas bachelor party, the last thing software designer Noah Ridgewood needs is some dress-obsessed, shoeless (due to a little mishap at LaGuardia) bridezilla landing in his first-class row. But being stuck in the honeymoon suite of a Chicago hotel with Laney overnight turns out to be more than either one of them bargains and could hope for.

In this riveting and pitch-perfect contemporary, first in the Much "I Do" About Nothing series, "Topper develops Laney and Noah as individuals through their recollections of significant events in their lives; Laney's struggles with the baggage of her past and Noah's battles to make the right decisions in his are chronicled with an honesty and charm that is heartwarming and spellbinding. Topper's tale of loss and love is a winner."

Readalikes:
The Man You'll Marry by Debbie Macomber, and The Dream Dress by Janice Thompson, in her Wedding by Design series. Readers might also want to check out in our collection, her Wedding by Bella series.

* * = 2 starred reviews

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