Muslims In Children's Books

In School Library Journal this month is a very nice article on "Muslims in Children's Books" by Rukhsana Khan, a children's book author. Since this is the time of Ramadan, her website may be especially useful to parents and teachers. You can find good links and suggestions at http://rukhsanakhan.com/muslimbooks.htm. The Library has several of her books. Silly Chicken is one of Khan's original folktales you can find in the Library.

Birthdays of two literary giants

Today, October 2, is the birthday of both Wallace Stevens, born in Reading, Pa. in 1879 and of Graham Greene, born in Hertfordshire, England in 1904.

Stevens was one of the few writers who kept his job after becoming a successful writer. He woke early every day and composed his poems in his head while walking to and from work at the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company. Most people he worked with didn't know he was a poet and he preferred his anonymity. His first book, Harmonium, was published when he was 45. It contained some of his most famous poems including "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" whose first stanza contains a striking visual image:

"Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird."

Greene was a shy child who in his teens attempted suicide several times. At the urging of his therapist, he began to write. He spent much of his life in Vietnam where one of his most famous books, The Quiet American takes place. He published more than thirty books.

New Fiction Titles on the New York Times Best Sellers List (10/1/06)

One of the best books I ever read about teenagers in love was That Night. It perfectly evoked a time and place (the 60s in a small town on Long Island). In subsequent novels, Alice McDermott would return again and again to this setting and its resident Irish Catholics, capturing their lives in beautiful, heartbreaking stories.

At #1 is The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield: "A biographer struggles to discover the truth about an aging writer who has mythologized her past."

At #3 is The Mephisto Club by Tess Gerritsen: " Boston medical examiner and a detective must solve a series of murders involving apocalyptic messages and a sinister cabal."

At #11 is World War Z by Max Brooks: "An "oral history" of an imagined Zombie War that nearly destroys civilization."

At #12 is A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon: "The world of a mild-mannered British family man falls apart; from the author of 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.' "

At #13 is Only Revolutions by Mark Z. Danielewski: "Two teenagers, forever 16, describe a 100-year road trip; their versions begin at opposite ends of the book, upside down from each other."

At #14 is After This by Alice McDermott: "The life of a Catholic family on Long Island at midcentury."

Kite Runner

Thursday 9-28-2006 on the Diane Rehm show Khaled Hosseini an Afghan-American doctor talked about his first novel Kite Runner which was an international literary sensation. Books like the Kite Runner can help us begin to understand the culture of this and other previously obscure nations which have become pivot points in global politics. Supposedly there's a movie being made of Kite Runner due out in 2007 from Dreamworks and directed by Marc Foster of Finding Neverland fame.

If you like Kite Runner click here for other similar titles. One of my colleagues highly recommends Sewing Circles of Herat from that list.

Expedition 13 Returns to Earth

SoyuzSoyuz

The thirteenth crew of the International Space Station, Commander Pavel Vinogradov and NASA Science Officer Jeff Williams, returned to earth yesterday landing in the steppes of Kazakhstan. They had been at the station since last April performing scientific experiments and station maintenance.
With them was Anousheh Ansari, the first woman space tourist, who paid an estimated $20 million for an ISS trip under an agreement between Russia's Federal Space Agency and the Virginia-based firm Space Adventures. During her eight-day stay on the ISS, Ansari performed a series of experiments on behalf of the European Space Agency. Visit Ansari’s blog to read more about her trip to space.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #36

Alternately called “campy”, “intriguing”, “wry”, “mesmerizing”, “overkill” (500+ pages), this artfully structured debut novel Special Topics in Calamity Physics, is in the end, a sincere and uniquely twisted look at love, coming of age and identity.

Teen narrator Blue Van Meer is finally staying put her senior year at the St. Gallway School in Stockton, North Carolina, after spending most of her life with her father, an itinerant academic, on a tour of college towns. She is bemused when befriended by a group of eccentric geniuses - “The Bluebloods”. And then, there is a murder. Blue and the "Bluebloods" are deeply enmeshed.

First time novelist Marisha Pessl impresses by modeling this intricately plotted novel after the syllabus of a college literature course, by naming each of the 36 chapters after great works such as Othello and Paradise Lost. Stunning effort – absorbing and great fun. Starred review in Publishers Weekly.

The Play Ground

The Play Ground doesn't know much about African Violets except that we like them and can sometimes get them on sale at Kroger for $1.00 per. Perhaps, after attending the African Violet Fall Display & Sale at Matthaei this weekend, we will become more discerning. Michigan State African Violet Society. September 30 & October 1. UM Matthaei Botanical Gardens, 1800 N. Dixboro Rd. Free admission. 647-7808.

Ann Arbor Police Department Online Exhibit Debuts

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The Ann Arbor District library's web site is now home to an online pictorial exhibit and history of the Ann Arbor Police Department. The exhibit, one of four local history collections on the library's research page, features a large assemblage of images of the police department and its officers, police vehicles, artifacts and documents. The pictorial collection is accompanied by the complete text of Lieutenant Michael Logghe's True Crimes and the History of the Ann Arbor Police Department which traces the history of the department from its beginnings in the 1870s to the late 1990s. The narrative is filled with fascinating accounts of the organization, development, and controversial issues which faced the department, as well as inside information on the large array of major criminal investigations which have been part of that history, such as the 1908 student riot at the Star Theater, the murder and aftermath of Officer Clifford Stang in 1935, the student unrest of the 1960s and and 1970s, the shocking co-ed murders, and numerous others.

Children's Bestseller List

Here are the top ten bestselling children's books as reported in the September 18, 2006 issue of Publisher's Weekly. There's something for everyone here . . . pirates, huge turtles, singing pigs and the importance of punctuation.

1. Is There Really a Human Race? by Jamie Lee Curtis Illustrated by Laura Cornell.
2. The Beatrice Letters by Lemony Snicket. Illustrated by Brett Helquist.
3. Pirateology edited by Dugald Steer
4. Eats, Shoots & Leaves: Why, Commas Really Do Make a Difference! by Lynn Truss. Illustrated by Bonnie Timmons
5. Bats at the Beach by Brian Lies
6. Fancy Nancy by Jane O'Connor.Illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser
7. Owen and Mzee by Craig Hatkoff. Photos by Peter Greste.
8. Pirates by John Matthews
9. Olivia Forms a Band by Ian Falconer
10. Flotsam by David Wiesner

GLBA Awards

GLBA AwardsGLBA Awards

Trying to avoid the football crowd on Oct. 7th?

Head to the 2006 Great Lakes Booksellers Association Trade Show at the Hyatt Regency Dearborn (Directions).

Check out the schedule of events; and author appearances, which include big names such as Chris Bohjalian, Brian Freeman, Kathe Koja, Joyce Maynard, Ridley Pearson, Julia Spencer-Fleming; and many regional/local favorites.

If you happen to be free on Friday, Oct. 6th, it will be worth your while to check in at the luncheon where the 2006 Great Lakes Book Awards will be presented to:

Katrina Kittle, for The Kindness of Strangers, (Fiction)
Paul Clemens, for Made in Detroit, (General Non-Fiction)
Elisha Cooper, for A Good Night Walk, (Children)

Founded in 1995, the awards honor the year’s brightest and most deserving books about America’s heartland; recognize and reward excellence in the writing and publishing of books that capture the spirit and enhance awareness of the Great Lakes region. Past Winners.

Let me tell you a dirty little librarian secret – publishers will be throwing advance readers at you down every isle – you could very well pick up a FREE prepublication Jane Smiley, Jonathan Lethem, Nelson DeMille, Walter Mosley, just to name a few. (There is an admission charge to the Exhibits).

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