Here are the books President Obama bought with his daughters on Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday, which occurred this past Saturday, November 29, is a day created in celebration of small, local businesses and to mitigate the large amount of shopping that takes place at large corporations on Black Friday. People are encouraged to patronize small businesses in their area, and President Obama and his daughters, Malia and Sasha, did just that. At the independent bookstore Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C., Obama and his two teenagers purchased 17 books spanning all age ranges and genres.

On the list were the Man Booker Prize-winner The Narrow Road to the Deep North, by Richard Flanagan, National Book Award-winner Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson, Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth and Faith in the New China, by Evan Osnos, and the classic Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad.

The Obamas also purchased three books from the Redwall series, several Junie B. Jones books, Nuts to You, by Lynne Rae Perkins, and Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms, by Katherine Rundell.

You can see the full list of the books the first family purchased here.

Michigan Author Jerry Dennis: A Daybreak Handbook

Monday January 26, 2015: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

This event will be recorded

Author Jerry Dennis, best known as an award-winning nature writer, has branched out in two new directions: poetry and publishing. Jerry's first book of poems, A Daybreak Handbook, was published in 2014. Also in 2014, Jerry, his wife Gail, and illustrator Glenn Wolff established Big Maple Press, a small press dedicated to producing special editions exclusively available for sale through independent booksellers.

Dennis will discuss these new avenues in his career as well as his ongoing work with the Great Lakes. Dennis' book The Living Great Lakes was the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads selection in 2010. A selection of Dennis' books will be available for sale and signing at the event.

Mastering Fermentation by Mary Karlin

We all know that eating fermented foods is good for the health of our gut microbiome. It is really surprising just how many foods and drinks assist those good bacteria to thrive in our guts, like the obvious ones: yogurt, pickles, sauerkraut, vinegar, kombucha and creme fraiche. But add to that list sausage, sourdough bread, fruit chutneys, corned beef, gravlax, olives, chocolate, cheese, wine & beer. We have a long and richly varied association with fermentation throughout history, assisted by the world of bacteria, which turns our crops and animal-source products into very tasty, healthy and able-to-be preserved foods. The health, flavor and digestibility of almost any food can be enhanced by the working of good bacteria and Mary Karling can show you how.

Mastering Fermentation is an excellent resource to help you explore how to do this in your own kitchen, with very little fuss and at very little expense. You mostly need some salt, and sometimes some whey, a few crocks or Ball jars, basic kitchen equipment and a little patience (it takes time for the magic to work). Karlin covers all the basics and then walks you through fermenting vegetables, dairy, grains, meat and beverages. There is something here for all tastes and eating styles. Some recipes are more challenging than others (Hop Stoopid Ale, feta cheese or wood-smoked pastrami anyone?), but the majority are familiar and no-reason-not-to-start-today easy.

Besides being useful and full of intriguing experiments, Mastering Fermentation is also a handsome, well-organized, picture-laden book which is a delight to read. She includes a very comprehensive list of resources and websites for supplies and support, as well as a bibliography for further reading, if the fermentation bug strikes you!

Colorful Behind-the-Scenes Peek at Illustrating Children’s Books

Lois Ehlert, the well-known children’s book author and illustrator, has recently released The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life, an illustrated autobiography giving us a sneak peek into her creative process. Ehlert, whose picture books include Growing Vegetable Soup, Eating the Alphabet, and Planting a Rainbow, is known for her collage style, which mixes colored paper with everyday objects like leaves, plastic lids and even vegetables! Fans of Ehlert’s books will enjoy not only learning the stories behind some of her well-known illustrations but also hearing stories of Ehlert’s childhood and her encouraging words to future artists.

Looking for more fantastic picture-book biographies? Also check out these titles:

Balloons Over Broadway chronicles the life of Tony Sarg, the man who created the first balloons for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

What to do about Alice? offers an energetic and insightful story about Teddy Roosevelt's oldest daughter Alice Roosevelt Longworth.

The Tree Lady tells the story of Kate Sessions, a turn-of-the-century schoolteacher who started a movement to plant trees throughout San Diego.

Renowned author P.D. James, died at 94


P.D. James was well-known for her Adam Dalgleish mysteries, but film buffs will also recognize her work from the 2006 film Children of Men, which was adapted from her novel of the same name. She passed away yesterday at age 94, and in her obituary she is hailed as a "grande dame of mystery" and as a successor to Agatha Christie's title of "Queen of Crime." Her good friend and fellow crime author Val McDermid has published a short remembrance of James.

James' detective Adam Dalgleish is a great example of a "gentleman detective" and his quiet, unassuming persona resonates with readers. Fans of Louise Penny's Armand Gamache may enjoy Dalgleish, who is similiarly thoughtful and artistically-inclined. The Dalgleish mysteries have also all been adapted into television series, and fans of Inspector Morse may find some of his appeal in the portrayal of Dalgleish.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #497 - “To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.” ~ Thomas A. Edison

For those interested in the history of books and printing, you simply cannot pass up Gutenberg's Apprentice * * * by Alix Christie - "(a)n enthralling literary debut that evokes one of the most momentous events in history, the birth of printing in medieval Germany - a story of invention, intrigue, and betrayal, rich in atmosphere and historical detail, told through the lives of the three men who made it possible."

Caught at the center of the Gutenberg/Fust saga is Peter Schoeffer. At 25, an up-and-coming scribe at the Sorbonne, he is summoned home to Mainz by his father Johann Fust who adopted the orphaned Peter and spared no expense in his education. It turns out that Fust, a wealthy merchant and bookseller has met & financed the workshop of the "most amazing man", and to whom he intends to apprentice Peter.

Johann Gutenberg, a driven and caustic inventor, has devised a revolutionary machine he calls a printing press. Resentful at having to abandon a prestigious career as a scribe, Peter begins his education in what the Catholic Church condemns as "the darkest art".

As his skill grows, so, too, does his admiration for Gutenberg and his dedication to their daring venture: copies of the Holy Bible, Peter finds himself torn between two father figures: the generous Fust, and the brilliant, mercurial Gutenberg, who inspires Peter to achieve his own mastery. "Despite obstacles posed by the Church, guilds, family, and friends, Fust, Gutenberg, and Schoeffer's tenuous collaboration culminates in the Gutenberg Bible."

"An inspiring tale of ambition, camaraderie, betrayal, and cultural transformation based on actual events and people, this wonderful novel fully inhabits its age." Readers who enjoyed The Justification of Johann Gutenberg by Blake Morrison might very well get the rest of the story here.

A note about the author... Native Californian Alix Christie dedicates this book to a long line of master printers, including the two master letterpress printers she apprenticed with. A published journalist who turned to fiction in the 1990s, she now lives in London.

* * * = 3 starred reviews

PreK Bits - Lucky Leaves


Ms. Rachel brought "Leaf Time" to Storytime ... for "L" day ....

FROG And TOAD ALL YEAR ... "The Surprise" by Arnold Lobel ... Frog sets out to surprise Toad one day, and Toad has a surprise for Frog!
We sang with Miss Sara and her guitar ... "Going On An "L" Trip" to the tune of "Going On A Picnic" ... and packed our "luggage" with "leaves", "locomotive", "lady", "lovey", "(front-end) loader", "light", "ladder", "lip balm" ... you get the idea! =-D
LITTLE OWL LOST by Chris Haughton ... little owl fell from his nest ... is lost ... and looking for Mommy.

For more stories from "leaf time" .... try the following recommends:
The LITTLE YELLOW LEAF by Carin Berger
SNEEZE BIG BEAR, SNEEZE! by Maureen Wright
BIG WOLF & LITTLE WOLF and The LITTLE LEAF THAT WOULDN'T FALL by Nadine Brun-Cosme.
TAP The MAGIC TREE by Christie Matheson
FALL BALL by Peter McCarty
EXTRA YARN by Mac Barnett
... then have a cup of cider or some luscious baked pumpkin squash ...

The Best of 2014 (Suggestions to get a jumpstart on Black Friday)

Library Journal's The Best of 2014 is a mix of the Top Ten of the year and the best of this year' s genre fiction, graphic novels, business, consumer health, craft & DIY, memoirs, and science.

Titles on the LibraryReads Top Ten Favorites that public library staff most enjoyed recommending in 2014 are no strangers. They are sure bets!

I quite like the list of 30 Books You NEED To Read In 2014 posted by The Huffington Post. Some of them might have been flying under the media radar this past year but everyone of them is an exceptional read. Definitely for the adventurous literary reader.

School Library Journal's Best Books of 2014. These 70 books distinguish themselves with excellence in writing, art, design, storytelling, originality, and appeal. From picture books to nonfiction, for lap-sharing and independent readers.

For the visual readers of all ages, check out the New York Times Best Illustrated Books Awards. The 2014 winners are a feast for the senses.

Alright... you are twisting my arm. If you must (toys, I mean), here are some suggestions you can count on...

Parents Magazine rated this year's best toys for every age, starting with baby and ending with big kids! These 58 winners (at all price points, I might add) would bring you kisses and hugs. There is even a list of toys for kids with special needs.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #496

Classical violinist Louisa Treger (biography) depicts the life and loves of Dorothy Richardson (1873-1957), one of the most important writers of the 20th century in a fictional biography The Lodger, - "(a) compelling story of one woman tormented by unconventional desires."

The novel opens in 1906 with Dorothy Richardson being invited to spend a weekend in the country with her old school friend Amy Catherine (called Jane now) and her new husband Bertie (H.G.) Wells, a writer hovering on the brink of fame. The sumptuous meals and idyllic seaside setting stand in sharp contrast to Dorothy's attic room in a seedy Bloomsbury boarding house, and her £1/week wage as an assistant to a Harley Street dentist.

But what draws Dorothy most (though he first appears unremarkable) are Well's grey-blue eyes and "his intellect and impish nature". Despite her good intention not to betray her friend, Dorothy free-falls into an affair with Bertie.

When a new boarder arrives at the boarding house, the beautiful Veronica Leslie-Jones, Dorothy finds herself caught between Veronica and Bertie. Amidst the personal dramas and wreckage of a militant suffragette march, Dorothy finds her voice as a writer.

"The early 1900s weren't exactly a friendly time for single women in London, and the book does a wonderful job of showing Dorothy's desire for independence as well as her fear of being alone... Treger's writing flows easily and the book is impeccably researched (including Richardson's twelve-volume autobiographical novel-sequence Pilgrimage), making this an enjoyable read."

"Dorothy Richardson may not be a household name, but Treger's novel does a fine job of showing just how compelling her life was in this novel full of passion, history and literature." For readers who enjoy Virginia Woolf (who btw, considered Richardson a literary rival) and Edith Wharton.

Stunning Debut Fiction: Etta and Otto and Russell and James

Etta and Otto and Russell and James, by Emma Hooper, is described as “a gorgeous literary debut about an elderly woman’s last great adventure walking across Canada. A beautiful novel of pilgrimage, of fulfilling lifelong promises, of a talking coyote called James, of unlikely heroes and hundreds of papier-mâché animals….”

Elderly Otto wakes up one morning to find his eighty-two-year-old wife gone from their bed. Upon walking into the kitchen of their home, he finds a carefully penned note from her saying that she has set off on a walk to fulfill her lifelong dream of seeing the ocean, and that she’ll try to remember to come back home. The only problem: the ocean is 2008 miles away from the couple’s home in Saskatchewan.

Otto surprisingly doesn’t pursue his beloved wife, but instead keeps himself busy and his worries at bay by carefully crafting hundreds of papier-mâché animals and writing Etta long letters that he does not know where to send. Otto’s close friend Russell, who has loved Etta from afar for decades, insists on finding Etta, however. He leaves his farm for the first time in his life determined to pursue her and bring her home safely.

Etta, meanwhile, steadfastly continues her journey to the ocean accompanied by a friendly coyote named James, and as her trip goes on the lines between memory, illusion and reality become increasingly blurry. The book itself is a mixture of memory and reality, too; it’s not told in chronological order, but rather blends emotions and experiences in the present with those from the past.

The stunning descriptions of Canada are a wonderful backdrop to this novel that “reminds us that it’s never too late to see the things you’ve longed to see, or say the things you’ve longed to say.”

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