We Were Brothers

The course of sibling relationships is often laden with pitfalls and contradictions and divergent memories. We Were Brothers is a painfully honest appraisal of how two brothers learned to love and forgive each other, after a lifetime of misunderstandings.

Born into a racist family, in a time when their whole hometown was racist, brothers Tommy and Barry Moser could not help but begin life as racists. Barry, the younger brother and a now-famous artist, eventually questioned the values of his upbringing and worked to undo the standards of racism, bullying, and violence into which he had been indoctrinated. Tommy never sought to move past the racial and cultural attitudes of his early years. A rift was created between the brothers which grew until they were completely alienated, one from the other, for most of their adult lives.

In a compassionate and revealing examination of his family, his town, and the influences on himself and Tommy, Barry Moser looks back in this memoir, and traces his path of first escaping his racist heritage and then reconciling with it. He and Tommy, in the last years of Tommy’s life, healed their relationship and came to a fragile understanding of each other’s differences. The story is sad and brave and, ultimately, sheds light and power on the process of moving forward in life while still honoring one’s memories of the past, in learning to forgive and embrace family who it would be easier to condemn.

PreK Bits - "4" more

Ms. Rachel and Banjo Betsy celebrated 4 in Preschool Storytime.
Pete The Cat has FOUR GROOVY BUTTONS ... and one more!
There were "Four Plum Buns In The Bakery Shop" ... a rhythm and counting activity.
There are 4 kittens in A KITTEN TALE by Eric Rohmann ... and four seasons.
Ruff the Retriever finds 4 things ... and turns down 4 bribes ... in a retold tale based on DROP IT ROCKET by Tad Hill.

For more stories of Four:
SHH! WE HAVE A PLAN by Chris Haughton ... with four explorers.
BEARS IN BEDS by Shirley Parenteau ... with four baby bears.
A WONDERFUL YEAR by Nick Bruel ... with four seasons.
The BUNNIES ARE NOT IN THEIR BED by Marisabina Russo ... with four bunnies.
MUNSCHWORKS 4: The Fourth Munsch Treasury
WHEN I WAS LITTLE: A Four-Year-Old’s Memoir of Her Youth by Jamie Lee Curtis

For More counting Books try::
ONE IS A DRUMMER: A Book Of Numbers by Roseanne Thong
COUNTING ON SNOW by Maxwell Newhouse
THREE LITTLE PIGS COUNT TO 100 by Grace Maccarone

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #572

Readers mourning the untimely death of Ariana Franklin, the creator of the 12th-century medical examiner Adelia Aguilar series should be pleased with a new series by Andrea Japp called The Lady Agnes Mystery (translated from the French by Lorenza Garcia).

One of the grandes dames of French crime writing and a forensic scientist by profession, Japp sets this series in early 14th century Normandy when the King of France and the Catholic Church were locked in a battle for power, amidst the medieval Inquisition.

Agnès Philippine Claire, illegitimate daughter of Robert, Baron de Larnay, was married off at thirteen to one of her father's cronies and widowed by sixteen. As Dame de Souarcy, running the estate falls on her shoulder when clothing and feeding her household is a constant struggle. She also has to contend with her lustful half-brother Eudes, who has turned his lecherous advances on her 11-year-old daughter, Mathilde. Meanwhile, in the countryside someone is killing friars and slashing their faces postmortem, possibly in an attempt to make their deaths seem the work of a wild animal in “The Season of the Beast,”, the first of four stories that showcase the courage and cunning needed for Agnes to survive in a time when women had few choices in life other than being “born to wealth, married, nuns, or prostitutes."

Read-alikes for Maurice Druon's The Iron King; C.J. Sansom's Matthew Shardlake series; and Jean-François Parot's Nicolas Le Floch investigations.

Artist Focus: Gene Yang

There are artists who you never knew you loved, you read works that they have worked on and don't even realize that all of them have something in common. Gene Yang is one of those artists for a lot of people.
He's worked on comicalization of the vastly popular animated series Avatar the last Airbender.
He's won multiple awards for American Born Chinese.
He wrote a wonderful and contrasting series set during the Boxer Revolution in Boxer and Saints.
He won an Eisner (along with Derek Kim Kirk) for his work on The Eternal Smile.
He brought a much needed resurrection of the first Asian-American hero the Green Turtle in The Shadow Hero.

These are not all of the books he's worked on just 5 of the most popular of his works!

If you are looking for a new graphic novel to read then you should check out one of Gene Yang's many amazing works.

PreK Bits - "3"

Ms Rachel did stories about "3" in Storytime ...
THREE SILLY GIRLS GRUBB missed the bus and walk to school past Bobby who wants their lunch.
We sang and matched actions to the song “My Hat It Has Three Corners” which is recorded on BARNEY'S MUSICAL SCRAPBOOK.
THREE LITTLE PIGS out-wit the Big Bad Wolf.

For more stories of "Three" try the following favorites:
OWL BABIES – E Waddell, Martin
THREE LITTLE PIGS – E Marshall, James
AND TANGO MAKES THREE – E Richardson, Justin

You can practice counting with these books:
COUNTING CROWS by Kathy Appelt.
1-2-3 ZOOBORNS by Andrew Bleiman.
EDIBLE NUMBERS by Jennifer Vogel Bass.
DRIVE: A Look At Roadside Opposites by Helen Hatanaka.
RACE CAR COUNT by Rebecca Kai Dotlich.
Or choose your Counting Books from the webcatalog nid=326580|title=3#|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=100|HERE].

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #571 (and truly a small gem)

As I was getting ready my Small Gems blog for this December, my copy of Anna and the Swallow Man * * arrived on my doorstep, and my choice is obvious. "I have never read anything quite like this book", wrote the reviewer for The Guardian, and neither have I.

"When Anna Lania woke on the morning of the sixth of November in the year 1939 - her seventh - there was several things that she did not know", one of them being her father, a Linguistics professor at the Jagiellonian University, would never return, having been rounded up by the Gestapos in Occupied Poland.

Turned out by a fearful family friend, hungry and cold, Anna met a tall and exceedingly thin man who not only shared Anna's command of languages, but he could also speak to the birds, and seemed to have more than a little magic up his sleeves. As the pair wandered the countryside together for years, they dodged bombs, tame soldiers, and in the process, the Swallow Man taught Anna lessons of survival while remaining an enigma until the end.

"Subtly crafted with an intelligent structure and beautiful language, this was a compelling and thought-provoking read." "Artful, original, insightful." Marketed as Teen fiction, Anna will nevertheless appeal to readers of any age.

A readalike for The Book Thief, it too, is "a story about growing up during a time of monumental changes. It reveals life's hardest lesson while celebrating its miraculous possibilities."

Debut novelist Gavriel Savit holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he grew up. An an actor and singer, he lives in Brooklyn.

* * = 2 starred reviews

New poetry for the year's end

Even though it’s not as cold as it usually is this time of year in Michigan, the dreary winter months are a wonderful time to curl up with a good book of poetry. Poetry can so quickly transport you to a different time, place, or season and can invoke intense emotions with just a few carefully chosen words. The AADL has recently purchased quite a few new poetry collections. Bring one of these home to curl up in an armchair with!

And His Orchestra is Benjamin Paloff’s second poetry collection, and contains poems that focus on the running conversations we are having with ourselves, and with others in our minds as we go about our days. “In poems that orchestrate imaginal dialogues with absent friends,” reads the book’s description, “And His Orchestra traces the inner experience of attachment, intimacy and separation.”

Insomnia: poems, is a graceful poetry collection by Linda Pastan that focuses on sleep or rather, the lack thereof. Sleepless nights, the moments before falling asleep, the strange tempo of the passage of time in the night…. all these backdrop Pastan’s poetry, creating a luminous end product.

The Ruined Elegance is a multicultural poetic exploration by author Fiona Sze-Lorrain, who offers a complicated vision of humanity. Honest and almost funny at times, her poems are sensitive to the human experience and often deal in memories rather than of-the-moment experiences.

In Elaine Equi’s thirteenth collection of poetry, Sentences and Rain, she focuses on stark, often overlooked beauty and uses plain language to express new ideas and strange, winding images. It is perhaps one of Equi’s own lines that best describes her poems: “Soothing because they put you/someplace impossible to locate.”

Other new poetry collections include Joy Harjo’s Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings, Lia Purpura’s It Shouldn’t Have Been Beautiful, Troy Jollimore’s Syllabus of Errors and Maggie Smith’s The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison.

Winter Lore from the Land of Fire and Ice

This winter, the land of fire and ice, of polar bears and northern lights, of the chilling north wind, and of snow-nestled mountains has whispered magic into my soul. Tales from the Old North, the lands of Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, are my new love.

These tales are important. In them, the wind, the birds, the sea, the trees—nothing is just as you see it, but pulsing with promise and hope and vitality. Perhaps birds do not really talk, and the wind cannot blow you to other lands, but it is good to be reminded that there is more to the world around us than what we see, and the beauty of winter is a gift.

Along with fairy stories in general, Scandinavian tales are also important because they reveal the starkness of good and evil. It is true that the world is often nuanced and choices straddle grey. It is also true that good does not always get rewarded, nor does evil always meet its just end. But sometimes, before we can untangle the obscured, we need to take a step back and remind ourselves of where the lines are clear. In this wholesome and refreshing way, Scandinavian tales tell of trolls, giants, and evil men, and the heroes/ines who through courage and kindness (and a little bit of smarts!) beat them!

With this criteria in mind, here are three of my favorite newly discovered tales. One is never too old for a good story.

East O’ the Sun & West O’ the Moon

This magical world opens with a brave young girl who follows a mysterious polar bear to his enchanted castle. When her misstep traps the bear under an evil troll’s curse, she travels over years of time by foot, by wind, and by steed to free him. A tender story, it goes past the fairy-tale love at first sight to show the maturity that patience and endurance bring. In a culture that uses hardship as an excuse to skip out, East O’ the Sun & West O’ the Moon contrasts with a heroine who endures much, fighting for the preservation of a union that is dear to her. This melodic tale, easily the most told and retold of Norwegian lore, echoes themes from the Greek myth Eros and Psyche, and may bring to mind C.S. Lewis’s Narnia and George MacDonald’s At the Back of the North Wind. Asbjornsen and Moe authored the first written version of this tale, among many others, in the Norwegian tongue. Translations of the text do not vary much, but I chose this version for the wintry warmth of P.J. Lynch’s illustrations.

The Queen’s Necklace

Hailing from Sweden, this folktale is rich with heartbreaking generosity and compassion. When a peasant girl is forced to wed a nefarious king he gives her an unparalleled pearl necklace and strictly warns her to never let it leave her neck lest she forfeit her life. When put in the position to protect her life or heal the needs of her people, she chooses one by one to unstring each pearl with tears of compassion, making her choice. When this puts her under the king’s wrath, even the birds come to her aid in response to her kindness. This story comes to us through three languages. Crafted from Swedish oral tradition to the written word by Danish author Helena Nyblom in the late 19th century, it was translated into Swedish by her native husband, and now retold in English by Jane Langton.

The Race of the Birkebeiners

Brave warriors, loyal kinsmen, armor made of birch bark: these are the first famous skiers, the Berkebeiners. Here comes to us a historical Norwegian saga first recorded in 1264 and now crafted into narrative by Lise Lunge-Larsen. Reading this story makes you proud. Proud of those who through courage put aside personal safety and comfort to stand in the gap against evil, and inspired to live with courage. For the purpose of rescuing a newborn king from usurping Bagler raiders, this small band faces the odds of potential starvation and tyrannical weather, skiing across mountains that only a fool (or hero) would attempt, with the babe nestled in a sling for the ride.

For more wonderful tales such as Tatterhood and the Hobgoblins, and D'Aulaires' Book of Trolls, see the public list Scandinavian Folktales . This list contains collections for every age group.

All is not as it seems in Quanlom-

The Divine by Boaz Lavie is hard to pin down in terms of genre, is it a political thriller, a fantasy, sci-fi, war commentary? What's not hard to pin down about it is how well made it is. The story is captivating and will draw you on page after page as you try to uncover the secrets of Quanlom.
Mark, the protagonist of this story, is out of the military, newlywed and working for a civilian demolitions company when a government organization offers him a too-good-to-be-true contract for 2 weeks work "lava bending" to bring rich mineral resources to the impoverished area. The only downside is that there is a war going on in Quanlom. A war between what appear to be gods and an actual dragon, with some extra "magic" thrown in for good measure.

To not talk about the art in The Divine would be to do a massive disservice to the Hanuka brothers. The art is breathtakingly detailed, and will draw you into the page better than the story (which would have managed on its own). It's easy to find yourself staring at a single page for minutes as you take in all of the vast amount of information that is being displayed, masterfully, through image. It's not very often that a comic comes along where the art surpasses the story to such a degree that it could be displayed separately from the story and still be just as meaningful.

So if you are looking for a genre defying graphic novel that is most definitely not aimed for young readers then The Divine is the graphic novel for you!

The Most Amazing Creature in the Sea

The newest AMAZING title from Brenda Z. Guiberson and Gennady Spirin is The Most Amazing Creature in the Sea! Sharks and dolphins are pretty great, but take a look deep down into the depths of the ocean where most people have never been. That's where you'll find the strange, incredible, and well-adapted creatures of the deep sea! Find out about the Vampire Squid that can turn itself inside-out, the Mimic Octopus that can make itself look like nearly any other animal, and the Barreleye Fish that has a transparent head! Young scientists will gobble this book up like it's krill.

Check out this list of ocean books for kids for more deep sea fun!

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