Multicultural Chapter Books: The Alvin Ho Collection

Second-grader Alvin Ho loves playing the brave Firecracker Man at home but at school he is too afraid to say a word. In fact, Alvin is afraid of many things but faces fear after fear in the Alvin Ho series by Lenore Look. In the first book, Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School and Other Scary Things, Alvin worries about making friends at school. In its sequel Alvin Ho: Allergic to Camping, Hiking and Other Natural Disasters, Alvin and his family get ready for Alvin’s first camping trip. Not only are these books delightfully funny, but the situations are very relatable. The audiobook is a particular treat, narrated by child actor Everette Plen who brings a fantastic youthful energy to these stories.

I think my favorite thing about the Alvin Ho series,though, is their celebration of multiculturalism. Alvin’s close-knit Chinese-American family includes a father who spouts Shakespearean insults and a grandfather who sews, and Alvin’s growing friendship with classmate Flea offers a wonderful message about accepting friends who are different from us.

The series continues with Alvin Ho: Allergic to Birthday Parties, Science Projects, and Other Man-made Catastrophes; Alvin Ho: Allergic to Dead Bodies, Funerals, and Other Fatal Circumstances; and Alvin Ho: Allergic to Babies, Burglars, and Other Bumps in The Night. More books in the series are also available as audiobooks.

Teen Fiction Picks: Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood

Have you ever dreamed of being related to a celebrity? Riding in limos and mingling with the glitterati? Abby Spencer never has, until now. But it’s not a dream -- it’s reality. In Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood by Varsha Bajaj, thirteen-year-old Abby bugs her mom to contact her father, who she’s never even met, to track down her medical history after nearly dying from a surprise allergy. When she finds him, she discovers that her dad is a Bollywood film star in Mumbai, India! It isn’t until he asks her to come visit him in Mumbai that Abby’s life starts getting flipped upside down. Join Abby, a hilariously witty character, for a crazy adventurous summer dodging paparazzi and experiencing Indian culture in ways she had never dreamed of.

Hugo Awards


Hugo award finalists have been announced. The awards will be officially given at this year’s World Science Fiction Convention called Loncon 3 since it is the third time to be held in London, England. If you love scifi or fantasy, this is one of the largest and oldest annually held convention for fans (the first one was held in 1939 in NYC, and it has been held continuously since 1946). This year marks the 75th anniversary of the convention so in addition to the Hugo Awards, there are Retro-Hugo Awards honoring the best of scifi/fantasy from 1938. The following are this year's best novel nominees:

Ancillary justice by Ann Leckie: story focuses on the AI soldier, Breq, previously a starship now in a fragile human body; a space opera that will make you think what it is to be human vs AI; 1st part of the Imperial Radch series

Neptune's Brood by Charles Stross: multiple award winner Stross continues delving into the Freyaverse and our post-human descendants started in Saturn’s Children, followed by a short story called ‘Bit Rot’

Parasite by Mira Grant: a genetically engineered parasite that lives inside all humans delivering meds, protecting us from illness, and boosting our immune system? Sounds good until they start thinking on their own…1st in the Parasitology series. Mira Grant also writes award winning urban fantasy under the name Seanan McGuire , and has been nominated for Hugo awards for Feed and Deadline

Warbound, Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia: the series is available, and you can read a short prequel to it for free online called the Grimnoir Chronicles: Detroit Christmas

Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson: anyone who knows scifi/fantasy has heard of this epic series that spans some 14 volumes with prequels; some J R R Tolkien influence, some Asian mythology…there was a computer game and a roleplaying game, even a soundtrack album Jordan died in 2007 and Sanderson picked up his notes for the final book and turned it into 3 books. Fans launched an online campaign to get the entire series nominated so it should be interesting to see if it wins!

Audiobook for Broadway Lovers: Better Nate Than Ever

Read by the author (who happens to have been on Broadway himself), Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle offers an insider’s look into the world of Broadway auditions from a kid’s point of view. Thirteen-year-old Nate Foster is tired of being bullied and misunderstood in his hometown so, with the help of his best friend Libby, this Broadway-musical lover concocts a plan to run away to New York City and audition for E.T the Musical (inspired by Steven Spielberg’s E.T., of course). The adventure that follows is both hilarious and heartbreaking, and the narration is spot on through every emotional twist and turn.

The audiobook was a 2014 Odyssey Award Honor, an award given to the best audiobooks for children and teens.

Its sequel Five, Six, Seven, Nate! is also available in print.

Humorous Travel Audiobook

Fans of P. G. Wodehouse and other classic British humorists will want to know about Three Men in a Boat: To Say Nothing of the Dog by Jerome K. Jerome.

Published in 1889, this nonfiction account of Jerome’s ill-fated boating trip down the river Thames is a wonderful example of travel writing. Anyone who has ever gone on vacation will likely relate to Jerome’s packing woes and travel exhaustion. Jerome manages to tell the tale in typically dry British style that had me laughing out laugh more than once.

The audiobook is expertly narrated by Hugh Laurie, whom Wodehouse fans may also remember starred as Bertie Wooster in Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster miniseries.

 

Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Interview with Robert Gordon

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February 24, 2014

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martin_bandyke_under_covers_20140224-robert_gordon.mp343 MBAudio

Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin talks to author Robert Gordon about his new book Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion. Not to be confused with the rockabilly singer-songwriter of the same name, Gordon has been writing about Memphis music and history for over three decades and is also the author of Can't Be Satisfied, King of the Road, and The Elvis Treasures. Respect Yourself tells the tale of the legendary Stax Records label in Memphis, where Otis Redding, Booker T. & the MG's, Isaac Hayes, Sam and Dave, the Staple Singers, Wilson Pickett and many others recorded their greatest songs. A history which unfolds like a Greek tragedy, Stax went from the highest highs in the music industry to a tragic demise. You may already know the story of Motown, but you also need to know the story of Stax!

Rights Held By: 
Martin Bandyke
Length: 
00:19:16

Audiobook for Kids: Malcolm at Midnight

Many favorite children’s books feature heroic mice, but what about heroic rats?

In Malcolm at Midnight by W. H. Beck, we meet Malcolm, a rat who becomes a class pet when fifth-grade teacher Mr. Binney mistakes him for a mouse. When Malcolm learns about rats’ bad reputation, he decides it might be best to let everyone continue thinking he’s a a mouse, especially after he joins the Midnight Academy, a secret society of class pets that has vowed to keep the school safe. But when the leader of the Midnight Academy goes missing and everyone discovers Malcolm is really a rat, he will have to set off alone to save the school from real evil of McKenna School.

Reminiscent of Kate DiCamillo’s The Tale of Despereaux but with a familiar classroom setting, this book would be a good choice for animal lovers and children with classroom pets.

For more books featuring heroic rodents, check out this list.

 

Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Interview with Joe Henry

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January 30, 2014

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martin_bandyke_under_covers_20140130-joe_henry.mp343 MBAudio

In this episode, Martin talks to University of Michigan graduate Joe Henry, the accomplished singer-songwriter and music producer, about his new book Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him. Written by Joe and his brother David, the book is a highly personal exploration into the life and times of the legendary comedian, a man who set the stage for the likes of Eddie Murphy, Louis C.K. and Chris Rock. Joe Henry also talks about plans for his next solo album, due out later in 2014, and shares his thoughts about the current state of the music industry.

Rights Held By: 
Martin Bandyke
Length: 
00:29:52

Best New Music At AADL

AADL is constantly adding to its diverse selection of new CDs. If you're seeking some great new tunes, consider the following must-hear material.

"You Were Right," Brendan Benson: You may already know Royal Oak native Brendan Benson from his work alongside Jack White in the Raconteurs. But Benson has been churning out terrific, twangy power-pop of his own since 1996, and his sixth solo full-length is another fine addition to his catalog. The record includes jammy earworms like "It's Your Choice" and "Long Term Goal," but Benson also proves his maturity as a songwriter. The bittersweet ballad "Oh My Love," describing a loving relationship that just doesn't have a future, is an affecting standout.

"Are We There Yet?," The Verve Pipe: Brendan Benson isn't the only Michigan star with a new record in the AADL catalog. East Lansing alt-rockers the Verve Pipe have returned with their second foray into the world of children's music. You may know them for radio hits like "The Freshmen," but their kids' tunes are just as listenable (if not more so). Parents are quite likely to find just as much entertainment and humor in tunes like "When Grandma Says No" and "My Principal Rocks" as the kids do. And catchy pop melodies recalling the hooky bombast of Weezer make this one of those rare children's albums that parents won't mind playing for the millionth time.

"Wig Out At Jagbags," Stephen Malkmus: Pavement frontman Stephen Malkmus has had a robust solo career since Pavement parted ways in 1999, and his latest release is among his best. Clocking in at around 40 minutes, it's one of Malkmus' more focused sets of songs; there's more hooks, clearer songwriting, and less psychedelia here than anything he's done in a while. And while Malkmus may now be a dad pushing 50, he's got a great sense of humor about his aging hipsterdom; check out the tuneful and hilarious "Rumble At the Rainbo," where he cracks wise about "slam dancing with some ancient dudes."

Find more great new CDs here.

New Podcast Series: Martin Bandyke Under Covers

Many Ann Arborites recognize Martin Bandyke as the longtime morning drive host at ann arbor’s 107one, WQKL-FM, his home station since 2006. In addition to a friendly voice guiding locals through their a.m. soundtrack, Bandyke is also known for his delightfully format-free Fine Tuning program on Sundays. Readers of the Detroit Free Press may have enjoyed his periodic music coverage as well.

Prior to his tenure with 107one, listeners in Southeastern Michigan benefited from Bandyke's vast musical knowledge through his role at WDET-FM, Detroit - first as a host, and subsequently as Music Director from 1995-2005. His own passion for music began with his father Ted's love of records, evolved through his role as a gigging drummer, and led to working behind the counter as a musical matchmaker at Dearborn Music and Car City Records.

Although Bandyke's talent is no secret, many of the things he loves are found between covers - including both records and books. With this in mind, AADL is pleased to be partnering with Bandyke for a new series of podcasts, called Martin Bandyke Under Covers. These podcasts, hosted by Bandyke, evidence his knowledge of music and pop culture in interviews with a variety of authors, musicians and creators.

In the first Under Covers podcast, Bandyke chats with Ray Davies of the Kinks about his new memoir, Americana. The second episode features Bandyke in conversation with Vivek Tiwary about his graphic novel, The Fifth Beatle (a recent #1 on the New York Times best-sellers list), which traces the story of Brian Epstein, the Liverpool record shop owner who discovered and then managed the Beatles from 1961 until his untimely death in 1967.

These two episodes are just the beginning for Martin Bandyke Under Covers - stay tuned for more conversations and interviews with creative minds! If your interest in popular culture and media extends to film, we hope you'll join Bandyke with Michigan Theater director Russ Collins for an Academy Awards Preview event, Downtown on Wednesday, February 26, 7-8:30pm.

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