A Tiny Walrus and his Giant Adventure!

So, I have been going on and on to everyone about artist Lisa Hanawalt (read my glowing post about her adult book My Dirty Dumb Eyes!), but until this point, I thought her work would only ever be for adults. No more! Enter her great collaboration with author and filmmaker Arthur Bradford!

Benny’s Brigade is a beautiful, strange, and funny picture book produced by creative publisher McSweeney's. The book tells the tale of two sisters who find a miniature walrus named Benny hiding in a walnut shell. Benny acknowledges that he is very small, but points out that there is nothing wrong with being a small walrus. Benny goes on a variety of adventures with the two girls and his new friends, including a trio of adventurous slugs. The oversized pages in Benny’s Brigade showcase Hanawalt’s amazing drawings in lovely color and detail. Packed with imagination and adventure, this is a sweet tale of friendship that warrants multiple readings.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #546 - Short Stories with a Strong Sense of Place

In the Country: Stories * * * a debut collection of stories by Manila born Mia Alvar (Harvard, Columbia) "speaks to the heart of everyone who has ever searched for a place to call home. From teachers to housemaids, from mothers to sons... (it) explores the universal experiences of loss, displacement, and the longing to connect across borders both real and imagined."

A pharmacist living in New York smuggles drugs to his ailing father in Manila, only to discover alarming truths about his family and his past. In Bahrain, a Filipina teacher drawn to a special pupil finds, to her surprise, that she is questioning her own marriage. A college student leans on her brother, a laborer in Saudi Arabia, to support her writing ambitions, without realizing that his is the life truly made for fiction. And in the title story, a journalist and a nurse face an unspeakable trauma amidst the political turmoil of the Philippines in the 1970s and 80s.

"These stories are stunning in their insight, compelling for their precise and nuanced detail, and provocative for the way they blur class lines."

Set in the pristine Connecticut suburb of Old Cranbury, The Wonder Garden * * * *, Lauren Acampora's debut collection of interwoven stories "wields prose with the precision of a scalpel, insightfully dissecting people's desperate emotions and most cherished hopes."

A home inspector undergoing a bitter divorce tries to dissuade a couple from buying their dream home, unable to bear the sight of their optimism about the future. A disturbed businessman becomes obsessed with the idea of viewing his wife's brain surgery while inside the operating room. A young, pregnant wife cannot believe the advertising executive that she married now wants to chuck his career and heed the call of his spirit animal.

"A clear-eyed lens into the strange, human wants of upper-class suburbia."

Just released is The State We're In: Maine Stories *, the latest by the multiple prize-winning master of the short form, Ann Beattie. Though many of these 15 loosely linked stories are set in Maine (where Beattie now lives), what unites them is more than geography. "Riveting, witty, sly, idiosyncratic, and bold, these stories describe a state of mind, a manner of being..."

"Beattie is a master at depicting the peculiarly painful valor necessary for contending with troubled family members, spouses, lovers, neighbors, even pets. She is also that rarest of beings, a brilliantly comic literary writer. Some of her hilarity is circumstantial... Most often, it's her skirmishing dialogue that makes us laugh out loud."

If you like these short story collections, check out Publishers Weekly's The 10 Best Short Story Collections You've Never Read.

* = starred review
* * * = 3 starred reviews
* * * * = 4 starred reviews

AADL Japanese Manga Collection!!!- That's right you can read them in their original language here at AADL!

Have you ever read a manga in English and thought to yourself, I wish I could read this in the original Japanese? Well you can on a large amount of manga through your local AADL branch! You can search the entire Japanese manga collection or if you want here's some of the more popular manga the library has in Japanese (I'm using the English titles when they are listed)

Bleach is a story about Ichigo Kurosaki who obtains the power of the Soul Reapers. Ichigo then is forced to take on the duties of guarding humans from evil spirits.

Attack on Titan follows Eren Yeager, his adopted sister Mikasa Ackerman and their friend Armin Arlert after the wall that has been protecting their city is breached by giant 60ft tall titans who are the enemies of humans. (Note this manga is pretty graphic in its depictions)

Naruto follows young ninja Naruto Uzumaki who yearns to be the Hokage (the ninja who is leader and strongest of all).

Inu Yasha follows Kagome Higurashi a 15 year old girl from Tokyo who gets transported to the Sengoku period after falling down a well. There she meets Inuyasha a half-demon and accidentally shatters a sacred jewel.

One Piece follows the adventures of Monkey D. Luffy, a man whose body has the properties of rubber, and his crew of pirates.

Fullmetal Alchemist follows two brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric who are trying to find a philosopher's stone to restore their bodies after an alchemical accident.

Fruits Basket follows the story of Tohru Honda, a young orphan, who discovers a family who are possesed by the animals of the chinese zodiac when they are weak, stressed, or embraced by someone of the opposite sex.

PreK Bits - "L" is for Lions

Ms. Rachel introduced a famous French lion in Preschool Storytime.
The HAPPY LION had a beautiful home in the center of Paris. A fire truck was called for the rescue, and Francois arrived first.
Ms. Sara and Ms. Rachel led "Tommy Thumb Is Up" from the CD TICKLES And TUNES and "Jump Josie" from the CD DANCE PARTY.
SITTING IN MY BOX begins with “Just Me” inside the box, dreaming about lions.
The rest of the "friends" are all characters whose names begin with “l”, ... including one lion, of course!

If you would like more stories with lions try these:
ANDY And The LION: A tale of kindness remembered or the power of gratitude this book won the 1939 Caldecott Medal for picture books.
LITTLE LIONS a story of the real nature of lion cubs.
The LION’S SHARE and the same story on DVD … a story of dividing and multiplying cake.
The LIBRARY LION and the same story printed in Spanish language.
What if there really was a Happy Lion living in a park in France?
Remember to say, "Bonjour!"

Ppurrrr !

Come on a Nature Walk Thursday, August 6 at Furstenberg Nature Area!

As part of the Ann Arbor District Library's partnership with Natural Area Preservation, we organize nature walks at various local natural areas throughout the summer! These walks are appropriate for all ages, especially those interested in learning about local flora and fauna. This coming Thursday, August 6, the nature walk will be at Furstenberg Nature Area. This 38-acre park, located off of Fuller Road, contains mesic forest, prairie and wetland ecosystems. The land was first acquired by the City of Ann Arbor in 1971 and much of the 1980s were spent turning it into the park it is today.

The walk begins at 7:00pm and goes until 8:30pm. We'll meet in the parking lot off of Fuller Road. Wear shoes that can get a little muddy and bring water and bug spray if you'd like!

If you're interested in learning more about the ecosystems and communities in the Huron River watershed, try the lovely little book Along the Huron: the natural communities along the Huron river corridor in Ann Arbor, Michigan, available in the library's collection.

Bird is the Word!

Hello everybody, and how do you do?! This week Ms. Amanda told bird stories at preschool storytime! Tweet tweet!

We heard the story of A Funny Little Bird who is great at camouflage. We heard the story of Home Tweet Home, where two little birds left the nest and flew off to live somewhere else…. Like on top of a tortoise! And we listened to I Heard Said the Bird, where there is a new one born and the silly farm animals are trying to figure out which animal has a new baby.

We hung out with a parrot, an ostrich, an owl, a turkey, and a penguin, and it was a fun time!

Here’s a handy list of all the stories we’ve read together this summer at preschool storytime, and here are more bird books if you’re looking for more wing-flapping fun.

The Grudge Keeper

It can be difficult to find youth books about being kind that aren’t didactic or patronizing (I’m looking at you, Berenstain Bears!). Luckily, the new and beautiful book The Grudge Keeper escapes these problems and offers a lovely tale of a town learning to be kind.

Written by Mara Rockliff and illustrated by Eliza Wheeler, The Grudge Keeper follows a man who is responsible for holding on to all of the grudges that his fellow citizens experience. After a terrible storm, the grudges fly everywhere and the townspeople must learn how to live without them. The illustrations in this book are fantastically old-fashioned and weird; they remind me of the art in The Triplets of Belleville. And the vocabulary is equally delightful, with words like “tiffs, squabbles, umbrage, and imbroglios.” This book is a winner for kids and adults alike.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #545 - "I have heard the mermaids singing each to each. I do not think that they will sing to me ..." ~ T.S. Eliot

"Dazzling...[a] quirky, raucous, and bewitching family saga", high praise by Sara Gruen for Erika Swyler's debut novel Book of Speculation, and rightly so. I simply couldn't put it down.

After his younger sister Enola runs off to read tarot cards for a traveling carnival, cash-strapped librarian Simon Watson lives alone in the decrepit family home that he watches nervously as it slowly crumbles toward the Long Island Sound. An old bound journal arrives at his doorstep one late June, almost at the same time his sister returns, restless and secretive. Fragile and water damaged, the book is a log from the owner of a traveling carnival in the 1700s, who reports strange and magical things, including the drowning death of a circus mermaid. Since then, generations of "mermaids" in Simon's family have drowned, always on July 24, including his mother.

As his friend Alice looks on with alarm, Simon becomes increasingly convinced that Enola will be the next victim of the family curse, and the answer must lie in the book.

"Debut author Swyler creates a melancholy world with hints of magic at the edges... Fans of historical novels, especially titles with circus themes or touched with a hint of the supernatural such as Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus, Katharine Dunn's Geek Love, or Katharine Howe's The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, won't want to leave this festival."

The Mermaid's Child by Jo Baker - the acclaimed author of Longbourn brings us the magical story of a young girl in search of her mother...who her father believes just might be a mermaid. Malin Reed, always odd and awkward never quite fits in. When her father dies, she takes to the road in search of her mother. Apprenticed to a series of strange and wonderful characters, Malin embarks on a grueling journey that crosses oceans and continents - she even disguises herself as a boy in order to get a position on a slaving ship. Misadventures, rescues (by an eccentric librarian), icebergs and pirates, Malin's journey eventually comes to a fitting end.

This pungent early novel, only now available in the U.S, (is) "beautifully written and hauntingly strange,...a remarkable piece of storytelling, and an utterly unique work of fantasy..."

The Mermaid's Sister by Carrie Anne Noble, set in a mythical Pennsylvania mountain tells the story of three foundlings taken in by Auntie, a village wise woman. When Clara realizes that her sister Maren, is slowly but surely turning into a mermaid, she and best friend O'Neill set out to take Maren to a new home in the sea. Adventure finds them when a traveling show kidnaps them all, and Clara must overcome her inner doubts about who she really is in order to save them all.

"Like all good fairy tales, this one touches on deeper themes of sibling rivalry, jealousy, insecurity, and questions of identity...Noble's treatment of the mermaid theme is fresh and original, and even her minor characters are beautifully depicted."

Like mermaids? You might also enjoy Mermaid : A twist on the classic tale by Carolyn Turgeon, and The Sea House by Elisabeth Gifford.


Looking for a way to liven up your dinner routine? Have you considered vegetables? That’s right, you read correctly, vegetables!

This book, FAST, FRESH and GREEN: MORE THAN 90 DELICIOUS RECIPES FOR VEGGIE LOVERS by Susie Middleton, offers tons of recipes that elevate common vegetables beyond the everyday with tips for the perfect cooking approach. These are not your grandmother’s vegetables! (Okay, I know we all still LOVE our grandmother’s veggies.) But, imagine the difference between steamed broccoli and ‘Grilled Broccoli Rabe with Lemon and Parmigiano’ (page 187). And for summer, the chapter on “No Cooking” is perfect, featuring recipes like ‘Heirloom Tomato, Summer Peach and Fresh Herb Gazpacho Salad’ and ‘Colorful Chinese Kick-Slaw,’ both of which sound like the perfect side dish for a sticky August evening.

And for more yummy book suggestions featuring veggies, see here.

Cloth: 30+ Beautiful Projects to Sew from Linen, Cotton, Silk, Wool, and Hide by Cassandra Ellis

Everything has a story, even cloth. Cloth is a most unusual craft book in that Ellis shares history and stories and impressions of each kind of cloth, along with intriguing projects and beautiful, full-page pictures. All of these natural fibers have long associations of human use and are still valued today for being timeless, beautiful, strong and eco-friendly fabrics.

The aesthetic sense of each kind of cloth glows from the page, but in an understated and time-worn way. There is nothing glossy, or glitzy, or frivolous here. The projects are useful and practical, while still being beautiful and artistic. Additional information on appropriate tools, natural dyeing and resources for natural fiber cloth, and patterns enclosed in a folder at the back, make the book easy to use as well as a joy to peruse.

If you are a do-it-yourselfer you will enjoy sampling the projects and, if you are not, enjoy this lovely book for the calm, graceful, elegant mood it inspires.

Syndicate content