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Anniversary of a mutiny

mutiny

On April 28, 1789, Fletcher Christian led a mutiny of the ship HMS Bounty, which was loaded with breadfruit tree plants from Tahiti and bound for Jamaica. Rebelling against their cruel captain, Lieutenant William Bligh, Christian took some of his crew and some Tahitians to Pitcairn Island where they burned the Bounty and remained undiscovered for eighteen years. Bligh and some of his followers miraculously survived a forty-seven day journey in an open boat and landed on the island of Timor.

To get the full details, read Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles Nordhoff or see either of two films, one made in 1935 with Charles Laughton and Clark Gable, the other in 1962 with Marlon Brando.

Literary Mysteries by Boris Akunin

The Diane Rehm Show on Tuesday, April 25th featured an interview with Russian author Boris Akunin, the pen name of Grigory Chkhartishvili. His literary detective novels became bestsellers in Russia and soon spread to the English-speaking world. The AADL owns several of his books in both English and Russian, as well as The Winter Queen and Murder on the Leviathan as books-on-CD. Can anyone spot the sly allusion to a certain Russian thinker hidden in Chkhartishvili's pen name?

A New Novel by Reynolds Price

reynolds price

Reynolds Price, acclaimed Southern author, in his latest novel, The Good Priest's Son uses the tragedy of 9/11 to set in motion a chain of events that leads to art conservator Mabry Kincaid's reconciliation with his Episcopal priest father. The towers are crumbling as Mabry is flying back to New York from Europe. Not able to return to his apartment, he goes to his boyhood home in North Carolina where his father, Tasker, still lives. In the course of the story, Mabry forms a bond with Audrey, his father's caretaker and her son and begins to come to grips with his mortality on discovering he has the beginning symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

Birdwatching

April 26 is ornithologist, artist and wildlife conservationist John James Audubon's birthday---reason enough to pick up the addicting habit of watching birds. Here are a few ways to get started:

Lounge in your backyard with National Audubon Society North American Birder's Handbook. Pop The Audubon Videoguide to 505 Birds of North America into your DVD player, or Backyard Bird Songs into your CD player. Join the Washtenaw Audubon Society's "Tuesday Evening Birders" every Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. through May 23 for evening walks at local birding sites (call 994-3569 for more info), or attend the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission's "May Morning Bird Walk" on Saturday, May 6, from 8-10 p.m. in the Brauer Preserve (call 971-6337 for more info). Visit the Haehnle Audubon Sanctuary and watch for Sandhill Cranes; read The Boy Who Drew Birds: John James Audubon, or marvel over Audubon's original plates.

Ma Rainey turns 120

April 26 marks the 120th birthday of Gertrude Pridgett, otherwise known as Ma Rainey, legendary "Mother of the Blues." Rainey was the first great professional blues recording artist and, by all accounts, the first woman to incorporate blues into vaudeville and minstrel shows. AADL owns a variety of books and CDs on the life and work of the blues pioneer, including, "Ma Rainey" and Blues Legacies and Black Feminism. She's also featured in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, August Wilson's 1982 play about racism and black rage set during a fictional recording session in a run-down Chicago recording studio in 1927.

Fancy Nancy

Ooooh . . . Nancy is so fancy. She uses tiaras, sequins, lace and anything else she can dream up. She is dismayed because no one else in her family is fancy. So she gives them lessons in how to . . . well, accessorize. When mom, dad and little sister are fancied up, they all go out to dinner. "When we arrive at the King's Crow, everyone looks up. They probably think we're movie stars."
Fancy Nancy by Jane O'Connor, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser is a wonderful family story. The pictures are colorful and clever, just perfect for the story. (Take special note of Nancy using scotch tape to afix a crown on her little sister's head!)
It's hard to imagine a picture book that blends words and pictures better. This one is worth a look.

Young Parrotheads' fancies turn to . . . country music?

With the upcoming film release of Carl Hiaasen's Newbery honor book Hoot, there's potential to create a whole new generation of Parrotheads. Everyone's favorite resident of Margaritaville, Jimmy Buffett, not only produced and stars in the film, but he also penned much of its original soundtrack.

Of course, Mr. Buffett isn't the only artist who stands to benefit from an influx of new fans. Many country musicians carry on this tradition of carefree beach relaxation, not the least of whom is one of Buffett's most prominent successors: Kenny Chesney. Despite having such distinctly un-parrotlike hits as "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy," Chesney has staked his claim in the Parrothead pantheon with such songs as "When the Sun Goes Down" and "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem." Indeed, his 2004 album Be As You Are is a veritable smorgasbord of tropical freewheeling goodness.

Young and old Parrotheads alike may also enjoy the works of some other country greats such as Alan Jackson, Toby Keith, or the legendary Willie Nelson.

Falun Gong: The End of Days

During last week's White House welcoming ceremony for China President Hu Jintao, a protestor interrupted Hu Jintao's opening speech by standing on a camera platform on the South Lawn and shouting at both Hu Jintao and George Bush. The woman pleaded for Bush to help stop the Chinese persecution of the controversial Chinese religious sect Falun Gong.

For those who want to know more about this topic, the library has a book called Falun Gong: The End of Days. According to Booklist, "Political scientist Chang provides a brief and accessible introduction to Falun Gong that places the movement in political and historical context, and she offers a critique of the Chinese government's policy toward religion that raises important questions about relations between quasi-religious groups such as Falun Gong and modern states.

The library also has two copies of Zhuan Falun, which is the core writing of Falun Gong's founder, Li Hongzhi. Finally, those interested in learning more about one of the central practices of Falun Gong can browse through the library's materials on Qi Gong.

E-greetings to the Queen!

Queen Elizabeth II

Do you know what today is? It's Queen Elizabeth's 80th birthday!

Why don't you send her an e-greeting! (Did you know that Her Majesty sent her first email in 1976?)

Can't make it to the birthday festivities? Check out the BBC News for video footage.

Don't know much about her? Peruse AADL's collection on "Lilibet". She may not be as stuffy as you think...

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #17

For Wendy Wasserstein fans, her passing this past January was deeply mourned. (Blog)

However, we could somehow feel a little comforted with the release of her first (and sadly also her last) novel The Elements of Style.

This dishy satire in the wake of 9/11, centers around Frankie Weissman, the down-to-earth pediatrician who treats the children of Manahattan's A-list, but is herself little affected by their excesses. Chock-full of shopping, private preschool worries, anxiety of maintaining a perfect image, or the scrambling simply to be top of the heap, “Wasserstein gets the trappings and tribulations of friendship and of romance right, making her depiction of the rich and fab trying to connect with one another witty and entertaining”. Enjoy.

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