There is a Santa Claus…

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Apollo 8, Launched on December 21, 1968, was the first manned mission to leave Earth orbit and head for the moon. After ten lunar orbits it was time to go home. To get back on the right path, the crew had to perform the Trans-Earth Injection burn while on the far side and out of radio contact with NASA. Everything went as planned, and when radio contact was restored (at the precise time calculated by NASA engineers) this was the transmission:

Apollo 8: Houston, Apollo 8. Over.
Mission Control: Hello, Apollo 8. Loud and clear.
Apollo 8: Please be informed there is a Santa Claus.
Mission Control: That's affirmative. You're the best ones to know.

It was December 25.

If NASA’s authority isn’t enough to convince you, take a look at NORAD’s (North American Aerospace Defense Command) Santa Tracker website. They’ve been tracking the jolly old elf since 1955 using state of the art radar equipment.

Silly Stories

In the mood for a cozy, crazy family storytime this holiday season? Join us on Wednesday, December 27 at 10:00 am in the Downtown Youth Story Corner for silly stories for all ages. Sing along in an old favorite from the Appalachian Mountains and a dancing folktale from Panama that has lots of opportunities for audience participation.

Poetry takes its rightful place

On December 20, 1985, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill into law empowering the Library of Congress to name a Poet Laureate each year. From 1937-1986, the position existed under the name, Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. The stipend awarded to this poet/consultant requires the publication of at least one major new work as well as appearances at selected national ceremonies. Poet Laureates have also taken as their charge innovative projects that broden the appeal of poetry to the general public.

The current poet laureate is Donald Hall, professor emeritus of the University of Michigan. Some previous poet laureates have been Robert Pinsky who created the Favorite Poem Project and Ted Kooser who developed the American Life in Poetry columns that appeared in many newspapers throughout the country. The position has provided established poets the opportunity to creatively spread the words of the muse and connect people with the pleasures of poetry.

A Picture Book Perfect for the Season

There's a new picture book in our collection that is just the thing for cozy family reading or a nice gift for a family with young children. That book is Winter Is the Warmest Season, written and illustrated by Lauren Stringer.
Maybe you're thinking this title doesn't work here in Michigan, but the book's large brilliant illustrations and clever text will convince you otherwise. "Cold jelly sandwiches turn into grilled cheeses" and pajamas "grow big warm feet."

For more books about the joys of winter, click here.

The Boy Detective Fails by Joe Meno

Everybody knows that the Hardy Boys and Encyclopedia Brown could solve every mystery they faced as kids, but what happened when they grew up? In The Boy Detective Fails, Joe Meno tells the story of grown up child sleuth Billy Argo who, at the age of 30, finds himself living in a halfway house, unable to deal with his sister's suicide and his crippling fear of failure. Billy's world is rainy and dreamlike, and you start to feel as though many of his adventures are only side-effects of his medication, but over the course of the book he accidentally solves the mystery surrounding his sister's death and comes to terms with the fact that not always knowing the answers is part of being an adult.

This book also gives the reader a chance to play detective, with a decoder ring tucked into the back cover to help decipher some secret messages that Billy receives, and a cryptogram that runs across the bottom of many of the pages.

A Memorable Book of 2006

I'm making my own personal favorite 2006 book list, checking it twice - and deciding that my list definitely includes Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert. When she was in her early 30s, Gilbert moved to a big house with her husband with the plan of getting pregnant. The plan collapsed when Gilbert realized that not only did she not want a child, she didn't want to be married anymore. Her soul-searching travels through Italy (for pleasure), India (for prayer) and Indonesia (for balance) make extraordinarily good and amusing reading. One of her book's funniest lines is when she first tries to talk with God: "It was all I could do to stop myself from saying, 'I've always been a big fan of your work.'" In this book, Gilbert struck me as sort of a non-denominational Anne Lamott, with a keen eye, sharp wit, and a strong sense of the spiritual.

A romance in two voices

Calliope is tired of being dragged by her mother cross-country from one Renaissance Faire to another. Eliot longs for the day when his father used to sell swimming pools -- before he "found God," and subsequently founded the fat camp for Christian kids ("What would Jesus eat?"). When Cal and Eliot meet, there's instant chemistry -- literally and figuratively. Do they have a future? Or will Eliot's father and Cal's mother (and her jouster boyfriend) tear them apart? posted by Greg Leitich Smith

Scrambled Eggs at Midnight is a romantic comedy with an almost classic feel. Check out Cynsations to learn how co-authors Barkley and Hepler got together on this book.

NEW books - Spunky Princess

Way Fun! A spunky twist on the Cinderella Tale, in a chapter book for kids!! Read Bella at Midnight. There are even glass slippers, a fairy castle, and complex relations. Author Jane Yolen says "Bella has everything - magic, mystery, romance - that I want from a fairytale novel ... I read it in two big gulps and loved every bit of it." I agree. Enjoy!

Anne Rice's Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt (a Wonderful Christmas Read)

The seven-year-old Jesus relates his life in Alexandria and the return of his family to Nazareth. Spare and lean, lyrical and reverent, vivid and riveting, Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt is "a mystery story, of the child grappling to understand his miraculous gifts and numinous birth" (Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2005).

Anne Rice's act of faith in writing this novel is detailed in her author's note where she describes her research and her journey back to the Catholic Church.

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