National Book Award Finalists Announced


It's book award season! Britain announced their Booker Prize winner yesterday, and this morning brings the list of National Book Award finalists. There are five finalists in four categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People's Literature. The list includes major names, such as past National Book Award winner Marilynn Robinson, former US Poet Laureate Louise Gluck, and New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast.

You can view the list of finalists in the AADL catalog, read more about these titles, and place holds. The winners will be announced November 19th.

PreK Bits - "G" is for Grubb and goat

Ms. Rachel got "G's" in Storytime ... which is NOT "B" or "V" or "C" ....

THREE SILLY GIRLS GRUBB are off to school with donuts in their lunch boxes ...
Billy GOAT Limberjack (who wears a goatee) ... tap-danced, and personalized the song "Rig-a-Jig Jig" !
You can sing along with the song (and more) with the CD DANCE The WORLD AROUND, a fine multi-lingual recording of folk songs, ... by "Peter, Paul and George".
GREGORY The TERRIBLE EATER is a small active goat who's parents are very concerned about his terrible eating habits (at least for a little growing goat), until Dr. Ram solves the problem.

Here are more titles to include "goats" or the letter "G":
LITTLE APPLE GOAT by Caroline Church. This is an adorable tale of how little goat inadvertantly planted a new apple orchard.
GREGORY GRIGGS And OTHER NURSERY RHYME PEOPLE by Arnold Lobel
G is For GOAT by Patricia Polacco, a beautifully illustrated "goat" alphabet book.
The VILLAGE GARAGE where the Village Garge takes care of the town throughout all seasons.
GEORGIE the friendly LITTLE ghost, lives happily with the Whittakers and creaks the steps every night.
GRUMPY GLORIA is a challenge for the family .... to cheer her up.
Go on and have a Great "G" day soon!

2014 Man Booker Prize awarded to Richard Flanagan for The Narrow Road to the Deep North

The Narrow Road to the Deep North, by Australian author Richard Flanagan, has won the prestigious Man Booker Prize. The Man Booker is of British origin and comes with an award of 50,000 pounds. This was the first year that the prize was open to all authors writing in English, regardless of their nationality. In previous years, only citizens of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Republic of Ireland, or Zimbabwe were eligible.

The Narrow Road to the Deep North is a story of love and war spanning over six decades. Beginning during World War II, the story follows the life of an Australian surgeon, Dorrigo Evans, who is being held in a prisoner-of-war camp on the Thai-Burma Death Railway. As he struggles on the outside to save his men from disease, abuse, starvation and death, he is ravaged on the inside by memories of an affair he had several years earlier with the wife of his uncle. Readers learn not only of Dorrigo’s experiences in the POW camp, but of his childhood in Tasmania, his life before the war in Melbourne, and his experiences once the war is over.

Flanagan worked on this book for twelve years, and the Guardian (UK) calls it, “A masterpiece… a symphony of tenderness and love, a moving and powerful story that captures the weight and breadth of life.”

The other books short listed for the Man Booker Prize were To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, J: a novel, The Lives of Others, and How to be Both.

Anne of Green Gables

The Anne of Green Gables books have been a staple in my life for as long as I could remember. The first book opens with a brother and sister who are getting on in years deciding that adopting a boy will be a practical step for them instead of hiring help. What they get however, is a very impractical Anne Shirley. Anne is a scrawny little girl with spirit and energy in abundance. Despite her being a girl, she quickly wiggles her way into everyone's hearts and is allowed to stay for a probationary period. I spent my childhood wishing I was as creative as Anne with her red hair and spunk. She is the epitome of delight with her flowery language and dramatic ways. Even though such traits could quickly become irritating, she manages to be one of the most endearing characters in literature. She is no stranger to making mistakes and yet she has a resiliency that is at times superhuman.

If you are the sort who enjoys movies based on great books you should also check out the movies based on Anne of Green Gables staring Megan Follows. She will forever be the version of Anne that I picture whenever I reread the books.

Lift the flaps in Little Pear Tree

With creatures fed, the seasons turn
And leaves begin to fall.
The little pear tree stands at rest,
Awaiting autumn’s call.

Little Pear Tree by Jenny Bowers is a darling (not so tiny) board book featuring “lift the flap” options on each page. The pages beautifully depict scenes from Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer with bright, vibrant illustrations. Young children will love looking at the bright colors and lifting the flaps to see what critters are hiding beneath the leaves and flowers each season. Each set of pages includes poetic text describing the pear tree as it changes through the seasons. It’s a lovely board book for babies through early elementary schoolers.

Wowed by Science - Steve Jenkins books for children

Did you know that the giant squid has eyes that are 12 inches across? Did you know that if you line up every kind of plant and animal on Earth, one of every four will be a beetle? What about the fact that octopuses are highly intelligent and, in captivity, easily solve mazes and puzzles and escape their tanks? And who knew there were elephant-sized giant ground sloths roaming around South America 10,000 years ago???

Find these facts out and more in some of author/illustrator Steve Jenkins' amazing picture books for kids! The search for exceptional non-fiction books to feed hungry little minds is constant for those of us with curious tots. Sometimes it's a challenge, but it's usually rewarding - especially when you get to pour over Jenkins' stunning collage illustrations and quirky facts that will blow your mind (that's right, these books will amaze adults too!).

Many of Jenkins' books are about animals and the Earth. For great animal size comparisons, check out
Actual Size or Prehistoric Actual Size. For bug fanatics, get a look at different kinds of beetles and their actual sizes in one of my all time favorites, The Beetle Book. If you're interested in anatomy, go the extra mile with Bones. Feeling adventurous? Then grab a copy of The Top of the World to learn about Mount Everest.

There is so much to discover in Jenkins' books that we put together a list of recommended titles to help you find them. If you happen to be a teacher, take a peek at this classroom activities guide that complements the books. Whatever you do, though, have fun!

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #488 - “I was made and meant to look for you and wait for you and become yours forever.” ~ Robert Browning

I am so pleased to have discovered The Awakening of Miss Prim * by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera, a charming and intelligent debut novel that is already a bestseller in Europe.

An ad for the post of a librarian for a private collection brings Prudencia Prim to the remote French village of San Ireneo de Arnois. Intelligence, highly accomplished and self-assured, she accepts the job (we will find out the reasons soon enough) though she finds the situation highly peculiar. Her employer "the man in the wingchair", a book-loving intellectual, is dashing yet "stubborn, domineering, and arrogant" (his own words), always ready with a critique of her cherished Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott. What disturbs Prudencia most is the flock of children that "the man in the wingchair" is determined to home-school with a most unconventional curriculum.

As Prudencia settles into her routine and gets acquainted with the neighbors and the villagers, she finds them capable of charm and eccentricity in equal measure, determined as they are to preserve their singular little community from the modern world outside. Her hope for friendship might indeed open her heart for much more. "Set against a backdrop of steaming cups of tea, freshly baked cakes, and lovely company, The Awakening of Miss Prim is a distinctive and delightfully entertaining tale of literature, philosophy, and the search for happiness."

In a recent interview with the Madrid-based investigative-journalist-turned-author, she disclosed that the Village of San Irenoe de Arnois is an imaginary place, inspired by the European tradition; where small communities were often built near abbeys; where people’s lives have a human scale; and where tradition and culture are regarded as treasures - a welcome respite and curiosity in "a world that’s so fast and so noisy." Sorry, folks. Hope you haven't packed your bags already.

For Pym and Von Arnim readers, this is an author to watch.

* = starred review

My Life in Middlemarch

All avid readers have at least one book that has had a profound impact on their life. For Rebecca Mead that book is Middlemarch. She explores this connection between individual and text in My Life in Middlemarch, a fabulous mixture of biography, memoir, and literary criticism. Mead demonstrates how a novel can speak to an individual on multiple levels and engage with readers. This is not a typical memoir which is author-centric. Instead the focus is more on George Eliot’s biography and how it relates to her work (Middlemarch in particular).

There is a lovely quote near the middle of the book which captures Mead’s view of literature and the overall tone of My Life in Middlemarch, “A book may not tell us exactly how to live our own lives, but our own lives can teach us how to read a book.”

October is Bat Appreciation Month

Do you like bananas, cocoa, or agave? You can thank bats for that! (Bats are major pollinators of those plants.) Do you hate pesky insects like flies, mosquitoes, and gnats? You can thank bats for eating those! (One bat can eat up to 5,000 insects a night!) Bats are an extremely important part of the ecosystem, and now is a great time to celebrate how wonderful they are. October is Bat Appreciation Month, and boy do we have a lot of bat books and DVDs for you to check out!

Brian Lies has a great series of picture books including Bats at the Library, Bats at the Ballgame, and Bats at the Beach. And don't forget the classic Stellaluna by Janell Cannon!

If you’re interested in learning more facts about bats, we have a large selection of nonfiction books for both kids and adults. We even have a downloadable book about the link between bat echolocation and radar technology!

Sadly, many bat populations are on the decline due to things like loss of habitat and the dreaded “white-nose syndrome.” You can find out about the plight of the little brown bat (native to Michigan!) in the new book The Case of the Vanishing Little Brown Bat: A Scientific Mystery. Get those holds placed now!

One way you can help out bats is by building a bat house for your backyard. And guess what? We have a book for that!

The last week of October is National Bat Week (Oct 26 –Nov 1). The Organization for Bat Conservation, a Michigan-based, nonprofit environmental educational organization, has launched a Save the Bats campaign to raise awareness of the problems facing bat populations around the world. Check them out and find more ways you can help save bats!

The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner (2014) film began showing in theaters in September, but The Maze Runner, by James Dashner, has been thrilling readers since 2009. A post-apocalyptic science fiction book written for young adults, The Maze Runner will especially appeal to readers of dystopian literature like The Hunger Games and Divergent.

The Maze Runner audiobook, read by Mark Deakins, offers a captivating experience of Dashner’s novel. The narration is well-characterized and Deakins voice is clear and articulate. As the plot builds, Deakins' rendition of the characters brings their struggle to life, drawing his listeners further into the story.

The adventure begins with Thomas, a teenage boy who doesn’t remember anything about his life before the moment he arrives in The Glade. He quickly learns that, though he is welcomed by the other boys and The Glade is safe, the maze surrounding it is inhabited by dangerous creatures. Thomas is plagued by the thought that he has been sent to The Glade for a reason and is desperate to explore the maze in search of an exit. The Gladers have only one connection to the outside world: a lift, operated by The Creators, that offers supplies and a new boy every thirty days. The day after Thomas arrives, everyone is shocked when the lift delivers another member to their group. This time, it includes a message: “She’s the last one.”

The Glade community has survived with teamwork and commitment to their common goals - survival and escape. The appearance of Thomas and the girl changes everything, and Thomas must convince The Gladers to accept him before they can work together, and before time runs out.

If you've seen the movie or read the book, the AADL has the other audiobooks in The Maze Runner series, too! The Scorch Trials, The Death Cure, and the prequel The Kill Order are all read by Mark Deakins and promise to be as exciting and engaging as book one. Still want more? Mark your calendar, because James Dasher has announced his plan to release another prequel to The Maze Runner, called The Fever Code, in 2016.

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