A Southern Charmer for Children

You’ve heard of Bigfoot, but have your heard of his cousin, the Sugar Man? Well, in Kathi Appelt’s The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, you can learn all about the illusive Sugar Man and the creatures who call his Texas swamp their home.

As the story opens, raccoon brothers Bingo and J’miah have been charged with waking the Sugar Man if the swamp comes under danger. And of course, danger arrives right on schedule. But before it does, readers are treated to two richly interwoven stories – one about a pair of young raccoons trying to prove their merit as Swamp Scouts and another about a twelve-year-old boy trying to save his family’s restaurant after his grandfather’s death. Filled with fantastic turns-of-phrase, if you enjoy books with a strong Southern voice, then you’ll love this one. Plus, the audiobook is narrated by native Texan Lyle Lovett who adds a wonderful Southern charm to this story.

For older teen and adult fantasy fans: The Black Jewels Trilogy

Fantasy fans may be excited to learn about the Black Jewels Trilogy that was recently added to the AADL collection. Written in the late 1990s and early 2000s by Anne Bishop, this is one of only a few fantasy series that I have read that maintains a strong lead female character. The world that Bishop introduces readers to in the first installment of the series, Daughter of the Blood, is unlike any other, real or imagined. Comprised of various “realms” and controlled by female witch-queens, each creature in this world has a particular level of magical power based on the darkness and value of their “birthright jewel.”

As the series opens, the realms of this magical world have fallen into ruin due to rampant corruption and extreme distrust among their leaders. Everyone is poised, waiting for the all powerful witch-queen that has been prophesied to come and make everything right again. Daughter of the Blood introduces readers to this long-awaited heroine, Jaenelle, a girl who is a mere 8 years old at the beginning of the story. Three different, powerful men take it upon themselves to protect her from those who hope to ruin her until she comes of age, but her own powers make controlling her and keeping her safe nearly impossible.

Admittedly, the complexity of the fantasy world in this series makes the story a bit difficult to comprehend at first, but readers who battle through the first hundred pages of the trilogy will be glad they did. The trilogy packs in all the elements of a great fantasy tale: magic, love and hate, good and evil, epic battles, kings and queens, ancient castles… the works. After Daughter of the Blood, the story continues with Heir to the Shadows and concludes with Queen of the Darkness.

Nicola's Book: Meet Rachel DeWoskin

Author Rachel DeWoskin will visit Nicola's Books in Westgate Shopping Center on Sept. 12 at 7 p.m., following publication of "Blind," her debut young-adult novel.
From Publishers Weekly: " At the start of Emma’s freshman year, she loses her sight in a freak accident. Despite help and support from her parents, six siblings, best friend Logan, and classmates at Briarly—a school for the blind Emma attends before she “mainstreams” back to her local high school—Emma wants to curl up and die. But when Claire, a friend from her “old life,” kills herself by swallowing a cocktail of painkillers and drowning, Emma rethinks her “PBK” (poor blind kid) attitude and her approach to recovery. While writing the book, DeWoskin learned Braille at the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind . . . " The book is for readers age 12 and up. DeWoskin, an Ann Arbor native, lives in Chicago. Her previous books include Foreign Babes in Beijing: Behind the scenes of a new China and Big Girl Small, which won the Alex Award from the American Library Association.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #480

The Frozen Dead * * by Bernard Minier is the U.S. release of an international best-seller set in the French Pyrenees. Saint-Martin-de-Comminges is a remote small town, reached only by cable car, where winters are harsh and the wind relentless. On a brisk snowy morning, workers arriving for seasonal service of the hydroelectric power station discover a horrific scene - a headless, flayed body of a horse is suspended from the edge of a frozen cliff.

The charismatic, Latin-quoting Commandant Martin Servaz of nearby Toulouse is called on to investigate this priority case since the Thoroughbred belongs to non-other than Eric Lombard, CEO of a multinational company and member of a very influential family with strong political ties to the area.

Just a few miles away on that same day, Diane Berg a young psychiatrist from Geneva starts her first job at the Wargnier Institute, a high-security asylum for the criminally insane. Uneasy with the unorthodox methods used on the patients/prisoners and some alarming behavior among the staff, Dr. Berg teams up with Commandant Servaz when DNA from one of the most notorious inmates (think Hannibal Lecter) of the asylum is found on the horse carcass.

"Complex, fast-paced, and completely absorbing. "

"The pervasiveness of evil in this tense and disturbing novel makes for very compelling reading, with the suspense bordering on horror. It should appeal to those who enjoyed Pierre Lemaitre's Alex (2013) as well as the edgier Scandinavian thrillers."

* * = starred review

Parent’s Corner: Back to School

Summer’s over. The backpacks and lunch boxes have been dusted off. The yellow bus is full of kids. Yep, school’s back in session for most. Which means homework, reports, projects, new friends, new schools, and so much more. Whether the kids are preschoolers or seniors in high school, a new school year means new challenges for both the parent and the child.

The Parent Shelf is located in the downtown youth area, and on this shelf you’ll find a variety of parent-child related books on a multitude of topics- including everything from 4th grade math to potty training to language to bullying. These books are available for checkout and can be found in the catalog when searching “parent shelf.”

Here are a few back to school related titles to look for:

* The parent backpack for kindergarten through grade 5: How to support your child's education, end homework meltdowns, and build parent-teacher connections

* How to tutor your own child: Boost grades and instill a lifelong love of learning, without paying for a professional tutor

* Help your kids with math: A unique step-by-step visual guide

* School success for kids with ADHD

* Cracking the 4th grade: A parent's guide to helping your child excel in school Reading & math

For additional resources on homework help, don’t forget to check out our Homework Help page! You’ll find information on free tutoring, research resources, and lists of books by reading level!

Summer Game 2014: Game Over, Man! Game Over!

Well, Gamers, it's over. The cries of anguish have finally subsided. The tears have been wiped away. The sun rose (twice, so far!) and set (only once, but I wouldn't worry about it). But, hey, let's take a look back at how AMAZING this Summer Game really was!

Players Playing: an ASTOUNDING 4,920!
Badges Earned: an ASTONISHING 68,040!!
Codes Entered: an AMAZING 339,062!!!
Points Earned: an AWE-INSPIRING 30,033,470!!!!

In case you are wondering if those numbers BLOW NUMBERS FROM PREVIOUS YEARS OUT OF THE WATER, the answer is YES!!!

At times like these, questions long pushed to the back of the brain percolate to the top of one's consciousness: How will I live my life without the Summer Game? What can I look for at the library if there are no codes? Where will I share my opinions about things I've read/watched/listened to? What can I accomplish if I'm not earning badges? (Answers: You did just fine before June 13th! Books, CDs, DVDs, Tools, Art Prints, etc etc etc! You can still do that in the catalog, there are just no points for it! I dunno, learn to play the zither or something!)

But you can also play all of the non-Summer Game games available at play.aadl.org! Like Points-O-Matic, where you can help us figure out which reviews are helpful and which are not with a click of your mouse and where you can help us make our amazing old newspapers more searchable by entering text from hundred-year-old pages! Or Streets Quest, a game that takes you to many of the historic streets panels around town and teaches you the history of the city around you! How about Treasure Quest, a truly bonkers set of quests the will set you to decoding and deciphering your way through the catalog!

Or...how about A BRAND-NEW SET OF QUESTS, heretofore unseen in the annals of play.aadl.org! That's right, a new game is on its way! When? SOON! (But not too soon, let us recover from the Summer Game first.) Keep your eyes on play.aadl.org to find out when this new game begins!

And don't forget about all of those Summer Game points you earned this year! The Summer Game Shop stays open until 5 PM MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 15TH, so get there and spend spend spend!

That's all for now! You players are what makes the Summer Game GREAT, and this year has been the GREATEST YEAR EVER, so thanks for a TRULY PHENOMENAL SUMMER GAME! And, one last time for 2014...

THANKS FOR PLAYING!

The Museum of Extraordinary Things

In New York City, in the spring of 1911, something happened which appalled and enraged the average citizen and began to turn the tide in the struggle for worker’s rights. This was the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, where 146 young women and men, locked into their workplace so they could not take breaks, perished. Most jumped to their deaths from the ninth floor to avoid dying in the flames.

Coney Island, freak shows and The Dreamland Amusement Park, were places where average Brooklyn citizens found their entertainment and escape at the tumultuous turn of the 20th century. It was a macabre and painful existence for the “wonders” who provided that entertainment, sadly deformed and exotic people and animals, who were on display to provide thrills and chills to the insatiable public.

New York native, and prolific author, Alice Hoffman, has written a wonder of a book about her home town in 1911, framed by two monumental and tragic fires and exploring the life of a young woman who was raised to perform in the Museum of Extraordinary Things, a typical “freak” show of the period, as a mermaid. She is exploited cruelly by the owner, her own father, but she finds special friends who give her the opportunity to learn about the world beyond her tank.

Part mystery, part love story, part documentary, and completely magical, Hoffman manages to create a fictional context to explore the history of photography, the labor movement, Coney Island, Orthodox Jewish life in the tenements, the exploitation of factory workers and the first wild animals made to perform for the public in amusement parks. Threading through the grim tale of the underbelly of turn-of-the-century, untamed New York and Brooklyn, its gangsters, criminals, corrupt police, and immoral factory owners, is a deep, enduring story of unlikely friendships and of love, between parent and child, and between young lovers trying to find their true selves, seeking to break free from the confinement and cruelty in which they find themselves enmeshed.

Hoffman has become an ardent and gifted storyteller, and with this subject matter, so close to her own history (both her grandfathers were immigrant factory workers turned labor radicals), she shines. Don’t miss The Museum of Extraordinary Things. (The one she wrote before this was amazing too: The Dovekeepers.)

South African Crime (and Fabulous Fiction Firsts #479)

The Sunday Times Fiction winner Andrew Brown introduces tormented Detective Inspector Eberard Februarie, in Coldsleep Lullaby * *, an intelligent and compelling police procedural set in Stellenbosch, in the heart of South Africa's wine region. Just released in the U.S., this series opener involves the murder of a young woman in the underworld of an old university town fraught with prejudice and sexual hedonism.

Melanie Du Preez, daughter of a prominent law professor is found floating in a river. DI Eberard Februarie, recently reinstated after an emotional meltdown is called to investigate. Eberard discovers a scrapbook of lullabies that Melanie had collected over the years, which could hold a clue to unlock the case. In alternating chapters, the readers learn of the Dutch East India Company's colonization of the region in the 17th century that ultimately plays a role in the current murder. Two other victims will die in rapid succession before the volatile case is solved.

"With its lush, detailed descriptions, Brown's debut successfully captures both the beautiful landscapes and the violent textures of South Africa's racially charged history."

Cobra (an October release) by Deon Meyer - the "King of South African crime", again probes the social and racial complexities of post-apartheid South Africa. The bodies of three people are found at an exclusive guest house in the beautiful Franschhoek wine valley. Two of them were professional bodyguards, but the renowned mathematician David Adair they were protecting is nowhere to be found. Detective Benny Griessel of Cape Town's elite Hawks found spent shell cases at the crime scene bearing a chilling engraving: the flaring head of a spitting cobra, trademark of an international assassin team.

Meanwhile, a small-time pickpocket Tyrone Kleinbooi who steals to put his sister through med school, inadvertently winds up as the Cobra next target. With the help of his colleagues, Detective Benny Griessel rushes to untangle a case that only grows more complex. From Cape Town's famous waterfront to a deadly showdown on a suburban train, Cobra hurtles towards a shocking finale and someone may not make it out alive.

Needing no introduction is the latest in the award-winning series by Malla Nunn Present Darkness *. With Christmas approaching, Detective Sergeant of the Johannesburg major crimes squad, Emmanuel Cooper's much anticipated vacation plan evaporates when a white couple has been assaulted and left for dead in their bedroom. A witness identifies the attacker as Aaron Shabalala, the youngest son of Zulu Detective Constable Samuel Shabalala -- Cooper's best friend and a man to whom he owes his life.

Readers might also explore the David Bengu series by Michael Stanley; the Jacob Tshabalala series by Richard Kunzmann; and the Heat of the Sun mini television series.

* * = 2 starred reviews
* = starred review

Badge Drop #12: The Final Badge-Down!


OH. MY. GOSH. Can you, will you, DO you BELIEVE IT?!

The summer has ZOOMED by, week-by-week, badge drop-by-badge drop. We know someone else used the slogan "good to the last drop," but we REALLY MEAN IT. So, THIS (badge) drop is OVERFLOWING with 21 MARVELOUS BADGES!

Most of them declare you the MASTER of something. Want a title to flaunt to all your friends? You could be a WILD KINGDOM MASTER! Or, you could be a BUNNY HOP MASTER — slightly less imposing-sounding, but MUCH more cuddly! What will YOU MASTER? Cryptography? Botany? Exploring? You STILL HAVE TIME to finish up the last badge or two in a series and SCORE that title (and badge!).

Let's get to it:

2014 Badge Drop #12



So...there's only a teeny, tiny little bit of sand left in the METAPHORICAL HOURGLASS of the SUMMER GAME! So, waste no time, dear players! GET TO IT! Enter in your reading/listening/watching, add in those reviews you've been dreaming up, visit branches and other spots around town, and COME SAY HI at our SG Wrap Party this weekend!

There are just about 55 HOURS left until the Summer Game's STUNNING CONCLUSION! You have until 11:59 SUNDAY, AUGUST 31 to earn THOSE FINAL SUPER-SPECIAL BADGES! We KNOW you can squeak in a few more. WE BELIEVE IN YOU!

We're already getting a little misty-eyed over here, thinking how we'll miss SG14, but... don't worry, we're also SCHEMING FOR SG15. So, don't spend TOO much time getting nostalgic — hop to it! Let's wrap up Summer Game 2014 in STYLE!

As always, this year and every year...

THANKS FOR PLAYING!

Help! We Need A Title!

Any fans of the fabulous interactive picture book Press Here by Hervé Tullet? Help! We Need A Title! is his newest. It’s a clever and sweet book that has half drawn “characters” that speak to the reader, because the book is not finished! There are no characters, story or plot. Until they knock on the author’s door! He then supplies a short little story that doesn’t quite satisfy the characters looking for a story. My favorite part is the nod to Press Here, where the reader is asked to “press here” to turn off the author’s desk lamp. A bit quirky, but indeed fun.

For another fun book where the author "speaks" in the book, check out Chloe and the Lion by Mac Barnett. The book comes to a halt when the writer and the illustrator disagree. It's a great read and super funny.

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