The Story of Lewis the Downtown Cat

Lewis the Downtown Cat is a picture book written by Beth Johnson and tells the story of Lewis – the “famous” cat that resided at Downtown Home & Garden in Ann Arbor and was a recognizable and familiar site at the store until he passed away at the end of 2014. It’s a cute little book and kids will get a kick out of seeing a glimpse into how Lewis spent his days at the store and surrounding areas – chasing chipmunks, sleeping, popping into Mark’s Carts and snooping around the Fleetwood Diner. The book rhymes and is written from the POV of Lewis!

For more of Lewis' story you can read about his death here, and read about Downtown Home & Garden’s new cat, Wallace, here!

Love at first byte: Image Comics Alex + Ada

The idea of human and robot relationships, and robotic sentience are nothing new. Some might say they are the oldest stories in the sci-fi book. Alex + Ada manages to capture the idea of robotic sentience and robotic relationships in a very different way.

The story follows Alex who is given a very expensive robot as a gift, but is uncomfortable with the pure obedience that Ada shows him. It brings up questions of free will and what it is to be alive.

This graphic novel is a more modern take on the robotics genre and anyone who enjoys a good tech story should enjoy the issues that this graphic novel brings up. If you've never read a robot story but like a nice romance then Alex + Ada fits that bill as well.

There is always the concern that robotic romances will be tacky rather than insightful but the creators of this graphic novel managed to make the story meaningful rather than cheesy.

Lumberjanes, the greatest scout group you wish you'd belonged to!

BOOM! studios has in the past few years has been on a roll with their new lines of comics and graphic novels, from licensed products such as Bravest Warriors to their own original comics such as The Woods. Lumberjanes is no exception to this trend.

So what is Lumberjanes about? It follows a group of girls at a summer camp, but this is no ordinary summer camp. From the very beginning of the story the graphic novel shows that something strange is afoot, with bear-ladies and foxes that disappear. Another really cool aspect of the graphic novel is that each section of the graphic novel (which was originally released as an individual comic)has an overarching theme based on one of the Lumberjane badges and so you can try and figure out what that badge is!

The series has been praised for its style and also for being a female led female written series.

The story is intriguing and will leave you asking "what's going on!?!?!" So if you love adventures, comics or even summer camps then this graphic novel is for you!!

and remember "beware the kitten holy"

Beautiful American Photography Books

Do you have an affinity for art? Then take note! We have a stunning collection of photography books at AADL. You can take your favorite artists home with you (or maybe discover someone new) and enjoy their photographs printed on big, bold pages. Some highlights include books by seminal American photographers from the 20th century:










And lastly, the posthumously discovered and published Vivian Maier, whose book VIVIAN MAIER: OUT OF THE SHADOWS has delighted critics and fans everywhere!

For more titles, see here.

PreK Bits - "G" is for Girls, Goats and Gunniwolf

Ms. Rachel told stories that had names that started with the letter "G" ... as in "Grubb" and "Gunniwolf".

The THREE SILLY GIRLS GRUBB is a re-tell of The THREE BILLY GOATS GRUFF. Three little girls skip over the bridge off to school. They missed the school bus. They had jelly donuts in their lunch boxes ... and someone is under the bridge.
Ms. Sara accompanied Ms. Rachel and the goat limberjack on a floating trip "Down The River" ... where you "can't jump", and you "can't turn around."
The "Jump Josie" song can be heard on the recording DANCE PARTY: movin' and groovin' songs for young children.
Then we went with a little girl to pick flowers for Mama ... until ... The GUNNIWOLF appeared !!

Here are a variety of re-tells. Be sure to get one of the traditional tells too:
The tale is told traditionally The THREE BILLY GOATS GRUFF by Janet Stevens and by Paul Galdone.
Get Rabbit Ears: The THREE BILLY GOATS GRUFF If you would like to watch the tale told on DVD.
The THREE CABRITOS is a Tex-Mex version told by by Eric Kimmel.
THREE SILLY BILLIES is a diverted version told by Margo Palatini.
THREE TRICERATOPS TUFF is a dinosaur version told by Stephen Shaskan.
You still need to deal with who is under the bridge !

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #538 -“Are you ready to stop colluding with a culture that makes so many of us feel physically inadequate? Say goodbye to your inner critic, and take this pledge to be kinder to yourself and others." ~ Oprah Winfrey

Dietland * *, Sarai Walker's debut - is "part Fight Club, part feminist manifesto, an offbeat and genre-bending novel that aims high, and delivers."

Alicia "Plum" Kettle, tipping the scale at 300 lbs. is counting the days when she will become her true, thin self... "she won't be alone all the time... she'll dress in pretty clothes, she'll travel, she'll have a job that she likes", instead of being the closeted advice columnist for a glamor teen magazine, working out of the corner café. After every diet plan imaginable has failed her, Plum is contemplating bariatric surgery. While used to humiliated stares and taunts, she is uneasy when she finds herself being stalked by a odd-looking young woman who leaves her strange little "gifts" that ultimately leads her to a secret society of women responsible for a series of gruesome kidnappings and killings worldwide.

"Hilarious, surreal, and bracingly original, Walker's ambitious debut avoids moralistic traps to achieve something rarer: a genuinely subversive novel that's also serious fun." If I have failed to convince you that this is one debut not to be missed, here is what two of my favorite authors have to say...

"Dietland is a book I have been waiting for someone to write all my life, and it hit me hard right where I live, right where so many of us have wasted too much time living. It's courageous, compassionate, intelligent, pissed off and much more fun than it has any right to be." ~ Pam Houston

"Sarai Walker is an immensely talented writer and her debut novel, Dietland—filled with wit, wisdom and wonder—is a pleasure." ~ Jill McCorkle

For readers who enjoyed The Middlesteins; Where'd You Go, Bernadette; and The Next Best Thing. Ideal for book groups seeking something more socially aware and gender-conscious in their women's fiction.

* * = 2 starred reviews

The Shepherd's Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape

It is possible that there has been subsistence farming with sheep in the Lake District of England for at least 5000 years. James Rebanks can trace his family’s participation in this economy for the last 600 of them. Oxford-educated, Rebanks returned home to continue the tradition and is now the popular tweeter of his life as a shepherd at @herdyshepherd1, with a following of 67,000. He is also the best-selling author of The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape.

The mountainous and remote Lake District was popularized by poets and walkers, like the Wordsworths and Alfred Wainwright, and is a prime tourist attraction, drawing upwards of 12 million visitors per year. But it is a harsh, inhospitable environment for a farmer. Only very special breeds of fell sheep, who evolved in the mountains, can survive. The farmers of the region need a sturdiness and resoluteness, in the face of numerous obstacles, to stay on the farms they have inherited and continue the long tradition of shepherding. Even the sheep dogs here are especially hardy and tenacious, Border Collies with specific training in retrieving the half-wild sheep from the ravines and crags of the fells where they are let loose in the summer, so the lower fields can be used to harvest hay.

The Shepherd’s Life is the story of Rebanks's farm and family. James leaves no stone unturned in examining the histories of both, including all the less than idyllic moments and encounters. In the process he recounts the history of an ancient way of life, with age-old attractions and antipathies, the challenging relationship to the struggles and triumphs of a life tied to the land, and the difficulties of maintaining dignity and purpose in the face of common prejudices against farmers and farming. His deep commitment to his landscape and his abiding love and respect for the grandfather and father who taught him how to survive in it are evident on every page.

Ultimately, the book is a rallying cry for the importance of good farms and smart farmers, a pastoral manifesto for the continuity of farm families who carry their attachments to their places forward with heart, who live, breathe and work their landscapes. “This is my life. I want no other.", says Rebanks. It is a delight to read about this life, set in the beauty and constancy of his mountains, continuing the story his ancestors began.

Surrealism At Its Most Hilarious!

OH MAN. You guys have to read this book! It’s so weird and beautiful and hilarious. I first discovered the author, Lisa Hanawalt, through her Maximum Fun podcast with comedian Emily Heller, Baby Geniuses. Since I started listening to the podcast, I’ve been trying to convince everyone else I know to listen to it too, and I am so thrilled to do the same with Hanawalt’s book!

My Dirty Dumb Eyes, by Lisa Hanawalt, is an adult graphic novel with a series of comics on strange subjects. Topics range from “What do Dogs Want??” (one answer: a tennis-ball bride) to “The Secret Lives of Chefs” (“Christina Tosi employs a child think tank to come up with recipes for Milk Bar”) to “North American Wildlife and Hats,” which features images such as an elk in a “New Jersey turnpike hat”, and a desert hare sporting a “lazy susan hat with hotdog and pancake condiments.”

The drawings in this book are just as surreal and gorgeous as you could hope for. The book is full of bright, bold colors and meticulous details. It contains very mature themes and drawings, so it is not for young folks. But all you grown ups out there, check out My Dirty Dumb Eyes now!

2015 Morris Award Winner and finalists!

Every year the Young Adult Library Services Association (YASLA) awards the William C. Morris Young Adult Debut Award for first time authors writing for teens.

This year the winner of the Morris Award was Gabi, a girl in pieces by Isabel Quintero. It is a story about a girl, Gabi, who is having a complicated senior year. From her best friend getting pregnant to another friend coming out, to looking for her own romance and trying to get into college. All while writing poetry and trying to forge her identity. There's a good reason this book won the award, it's great. The characters don't fall flat as can happen sometimes and the struggles that Gabi faces are ones that are easily identifiable (even if you've never experienced them yourself).

The other finalists in the award were

The Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann Foley a story about Maggie Lynch who is moved from Chicago to Ireland when her mother gets suddenly married. The story follows Maggie as she deals with life and death, love and loss.

The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim by C.K Johnston is a story about an alternate world where dragons abound and cause massive destruction. The story follows Owen a slayer in training, his bard Siobhan (pronounced She-vaughn) as they face a dragon in Canada.

The Scar Boys by Len. Vlahos is a story about Harry Jones who in a college admission essay reveals a childhood defined by his physical and psychological scars and the solace that he found in friendship and punk music.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is a story about a girl who is born with wings, to a family that is unwise in love. After a young man becomes convinced she is an angel it is uncertain if she will survive this strange obsession.

To see previous years winners check out These lists

Library Lists: Introducing Fine Art to Kids!

We know that kids love to create their own art, and children can recognize and be influenced by different artistic styles from a very young age. Learning about fine art can seem dry, but there are lots of great books geared towards younger ages that introduce famous artists and their work in fun and unique ways. Here are a few suggestions:

In the family-oriented An Eye For Art, children are introduced to over 50 famous artists and their work representing a huge range of styles and techniques. Related activities ranging from focused looking to creative writing and the child’s own artistic development accompany the information and images about each artist.

Learning Through Art, published by the Guggenheim Museum, offers art and art appreciation exercises based on well-known 20th century paintings and pieces from the Guggenheim.

Art Up Close: From Ancient to Modern is a beautiful book that emphasizes the finer points of various masterpieces by turning them into an “I Spy”-like game. In the same series, and just as well-done, are the Louvre Up Close and Masterpieces Up Close.

In Modern Art Adventures, kids are introduced to the fresh and unusual artistic styles of the past three centuries, then let loose to create their own art inspired by the techniques they’ve learned. Over 35 hands-on projects make sure that there’s something for everyone in this book.

Linnea in Monet’s Garden is an adorable introduction to Monet, his family, his garden at Giverny and his work. Readers will join a young girl as she visits the home and garden of Monet, and the illustrations include photographs from the painter’s life and of his work.

Ooh! Matisse is the most basic of introductions to fine art for the youngest readers. Portions of Matisse’s cut-out paper art are splashed brightly across the pages, and young readers will learn to recognize both the art and the words that describe it (“flower,” “square,” “figure,” etc.)

The Collins Big Book of Art opens with a useful timeline of the history of art: when different styles were developed and where, and what artists were doing around the world at different points in time. This collection is great for kids interested in artistic variety: from cave art to pop art, it has it all.

If you’re interested in other cool fine art books for children, check out the suggestions on this list.

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