John Irving is 65

Today is the birthday of John Irving, celebrated author of many books, his most famous being The World According to Garp which was published in 1978. This story of a fatherless son of a radical feminist began a thematic thread that runs through some of his other work , especially The Cider House Rules and his latest, Until I Find You. Irving never met his father and hoped through his fame, his father would contact him but he never did. Not only is Irving an accomplished writer but in college was a champion wrestler. In 1992, he was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Announcements from New York Comic-Con

One of the more interesting anime-related announcements at last weekend’s New York Comic-Con was the introduction of the English-language voice cast for the U.S. release of the Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle anime. You can see the cast listing and watch the NYCC panel online at the official Tsubasa anime website; you'll be happy to hear that some fan favorites—such as Vic Mignogna, the actor of Edward Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist—will be lending their voices to the main characters. The first dvd won’t be released until May, but until then, you can follow the adventures of Syaoran, Sakura, Fay, and Kurogane through the original manga by CLAMP.

Happy 46th birthday, Peace Corps

On March 1, 1961, President John F. Kennedy stood on the steps of the Michigan Union and by executive order announced the beginning of the Peace Corps. This experiment in activism was a huge success with many young people out of college as well as older retirees venturing to far off countries to teach, help with farming and start health clinics. The Peace Corps is alive and well today, still offering those who want to serve exciting and challenging opportunities.

Heard the one about the goatman in the lemon grove?

Gilbert Hernandez took a break from his work on Love & Rockets (done collaboratively with his brother Jamie) to create another book on his own, Sloth.

Hernandez uses his rough and expressive style of illustration to work magic on the story of Miguel, a youth full of suburban ennui who wills himself into a coma as a means of escape. When Miguel wakes up a year later, his physical movements have slowed to a sloth’s pace and he finds himself mixed up in a local urban legend. The story takes some unexpected twists and and comes out looking like a Möbius strip.

The Play Ground

On our way home yesterday we saw a forlorn Collie walking down the road. A dangerous proposition for man or beast. He finally turned up a driveway, hopefully on his way home. This weekend Collies, in all their glory, are on display at the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds. Around 160 collies from all over the country compete, in rally and obedience trials, in one of the largest collie shows in the country. Food concessions. Morning & afternoon time TBA (Mar. 2 & 3) & 8 a.m.-afternoon (Mar. 4), 5055 Ann Arbor-Saline Rd. Free admission. (419) 836-2612.

Arthur Schlesinger, author and political confidante, is dead at 89

Arthur Schlesinger, author and political confidante, is dead at 89Arthur Schlesinger, author and political confidante, is dead at 89

Arthur Schlesinger, unapologetic liberal, author, and a long-standing member of the innermost of inner circles in Washington, D.C. for decades, died February 28, 2007, after suffering a heart attack. He was 89.

Recipient of multiple literary awards, including the Pulitzer for The Age of Jackson (1946) and A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House (1966) and the National Book Award for A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House (1966) and Robert Kennedy and His Times (1979), Schlesinger was invited by JFK to be a special counsel in the White House in 1961.

Schlesinger’s last book was War and the American Presidency, published in 2004.

New Fiction on the New York Times Best Sellers List (2/25/07)

If you are in the mood for romance, Natural Born Charmer delivers the love and laughter with a happily ever after ending. This is the latest in Phillips' contemporary series featuring members of the fictional Chicago Stars professional football team.

At #1 is Step on a Crack by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge: "A detective raising 10 children alone must rescue 34 high-level hostages."

At #3 is Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips: "Opposites attract as a football player and a portrait painter embark on a road trip."

At #4 is High Profile by Robert B. Parker: "Jesse Stone, the police chief of Paradise, Mass., investigates the death of a controversial talk-show host and a young woman."

At #12 is Family Tree by Barbara Delinksy: "A white woman searches for the father she never knew after she unexpectedly gives birth to a black child."

Life in the Nebraska Sandhills

Stunning prose and a moving story of a Nebraska family caught in its own history mark The Floor of the Sky by Pamela Carter Joern. Toby Jenkins, 72, tries to hold on to the Sears Roebuck farmhouse she's lived in since the 1920's but an opportunistic banker has profits on his mind and a ready buyer. In the midst of this crisis comes Lila, Toby's 16 year old pregnant granddaughter sent by her mother to spend her incubation time with her grandmother. Metal-studded Lila, at first angry and uncommunicative, finds solace in Toby's love and then begins to uncover secrets about Toby's youth. These characters grew on me and I began to care what happened to them.

Joern's novel is part of the Flyover Fiction series edited by Ron Hansen from the University of Nebraska Press. The Press publishes special editions and critiques of the work of Willa Cather as well as an impressive number of books on the West and Native Americans, especially the Sioux.

I Am Plastic: the Designer Toy Explosion

I Am Plastic is a large format color photographic celebration of the new age of plastic toy figures.

I have wandered through the Vault of Midnight admiring the striking plastic toys that are clearly designed for a demographic of which I am not part. I have a plastic toy Tintin with Snowy under his arm in my office and a hundred Star Wars figures (my kids’) at home. The plastic toys in this book are different from them because they are generally not from anything. They were invented as toys and are very creative, clever, and provocative.

There is a four page introductory essay at the front of the book and fifteen very brief Q & A interviews with plastic toy designers at the back of the book. The interviews have answers to “What’s in your pocket?”, “What do you eat for breakfast?”, “What’s on your iPod?” and other more directly pertinent questions such as “If you could have invented a toy or character that someone else made, what would it be and why?”

The rest of the book is great color photographs of the plastic toys arranged on a white background with small captions giving the names of the toys and the year they were created. The book is organized by country (they originated in China and Japan though the U. S. is now a major creator), then by designer.

Take a look. Pretty weird and wonderful.

Kid Bits - NEW Folklore

Don't forget the folklore for family storytimes. It's a great way to travel the world without leaving home. NEW titles in the library are The Great Race: The Story Of The Chinese Zodiac; The Hare And The Tortoise And Other Fables Of LaFontaine; and Storytime: First Tales For Sharing.

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