Bernard Waber, creator of the beloved Lyle the Crocodile picture books, has died

Bernard Waber, who turned his commercial graphic arts training into a successful career as a children's book author and illustrator, died May 16th.

Waber, a World War II veteran and devoted movie buff, first introduced Lyle the lovable crocodile in his 1962 book, The House on East 88th Street. In this fanciful, gentle, funny story, the Primm family discovers Lyle hanging out in the bathtub of their Upper East Side brownstone. Lyle made several more appearances, including in Lyle Finds His Mother (1974) and Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile (1965). His final Lyle book, Lyle Walks the Dog: A Counting Book (2010), was a collaboration with his daughter Paulis Waber.

While most of Waber's books involved whimsical illustrations of animals -- The Mouse that Snored and the delightful A Lion Named Shirley Williamson (1996) -- Waber also had a gift for using human subjects to zero in on and allay common childhood anxieties. In Ira Sleeps Over (1972), little Ira frets about whether or not he can bring his teddy bear to a sleepover. In 2002, Waber published Courage in response to September 11th. He had started it before the attacks, but added firemen and police officers to his examples of people, both ordinary and extraordinary, who exhibit courage every day.

Waber forever endeared himself to book and movie lovers when he said that the way he endured frequent relocations as a child was to seek reassurance from his parents that wherever they moved, a library and movie theater would be close by. "...The Library and cinema were life-giving urgencies, a survival kit for any new neighborhood."

Waber, who was 91, died at his home in Long Island.

Dan Brown's latest novel, Inferno

Last week, Dan Brown's new novel, Inferno was released and is in hot demand. In this 476 page blockbuster, Robert Langdon, a Harvard professor whose specialty in symbology takes him to Italy to unravel the secrets of Dante's Inferno, races against time to save the world.

Dan Brown came to the public's attention in 2003 when his intriguing, provocative, controversial The Da Vinci Code broke all sorts of publishing records and is, to this day, one of the bestselling novels of all time. Ever since, he has had one #1 bestseller after another. Just two years after The Da Vinci Code was released, Brown was named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most influential People in the World.

Are you on the wait list for Inferno? Never fear, we have a list of great titles that share Brown's powerful formula of mixing history, religion, and/or literature and cryptography to tell a compelling story. Try some of these to tide you over until your number comes up.

Umberto Eco's very first novel, published in English 30 years ago, is considered a classic. In The Name of the Rose, Brother William of Baskerville, a 14th century monk, is sent to Italy to investigate seven deeply disturbing murders. Three years later, Sean Connery starred in the award-winning film version.

In The Eight (1988), Katherine Neville, tells the story of Catherine Velis, a computer pro for one of the Big Eight accounting firms. Velis is fascinated by the relationship between chess and mathematics and sets out on a dangerous quest to gather the pieces of an antique chess set, scattered across the globe. If found, the complete set will reveal a world-changing secret, which began in 1790.

Jonathan Rabb, in his popular 2001 The Book of Q, moves back and forth between sixth century Asia Minor and 20th century Croatia. Father Ian Pearse is a researcher at the Vatican Library who cannot forget his passionate affair eight years earlier with Petra. When he comes across the translation of an ancient scroll that reveals a shocking code, he returns to Bosnia (and, oh yes, Petra) to save the world from the secrets buried in the scroll.

Scrolls and diaries that beg to be decoded to reveal earth-shattering religious secrets, are at the center of The 13th Apostle (2007), by Richard and Rachael Heller. This time, the sleuths are Sabbie Karaim, a biblical scholar and ex-Israeli commando and Gil Pearson, an American cybersleuth who discover there are those who are willing to kill for this possible link to one of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

If you are too impatient for your hold for the print version of Inferno, why not try Paul Michael's dramatic narrative performance in the audiobook version?

May's Books to Film

Iron Man 3 (PG-13) is a Walt Disney Studio adaptation of Marvel's Iron Man: Extremis by Warren Ellis and Adi Granov. It pits brash but brilliant industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man against an enemy whose reach knows no bounds. When Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy's hands, he embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible. As he fights his way back, Stark discovers the answer to the question that has secretly haunted him: does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man?

For limited release is What Maisie Knew (R). With newcomer Onata Aprile in the title role, Julianne Moore, Alexander Skarsgård star this family drama, a contemporary re-imagining of the novel by Henry James. It's the story of a captivating little girl's struggle for grace in the midst of her parents' bitter custody battle, navigating the turmoil with a six-year-old's innocence, charm and generosity of spirit.

Based on the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby (PG-13), would-be writer Nick Carraway leaves the Midwest and comes to New York City in the spring of 1922. In this era of loosening morals, glittering jazz, bootleg kings, and sky-rocketing stocks, Nick lands next door to a mysterious, party-giving millionaire, Jay Gatsby; across the bay from his cousin, Daisy, and her philandering, blue-blooded husband, Tom Buchanan; and is drawn into the captivating world of the super rich.

Released just in time for summer vacation is the animated Epic (PG), based on The Leaf Man by William Joyce. It tells the story of an ongoing battle between the forces of good, who keep the natural world alive, and the forces of evil, who wish to destroy it. When a teenage girl finds herself magically transported into this secret universe, she teams up with an elite band of warriors and a crew of comical, larger-than-life figures, to save their world…and ours.

Dr. Joyce Brothers, the "mother of mass media psychology", has died

Dr. Joyce Brothers, whose soft voice, clear explanations, and preference for pastels calmed generations of anxious, questioning Americans, has died.

In 1955, Dr. Brothers was a wife and new mother. Her doctor husband was paid $50 a month as a resident. Looking for a way to pay the bills, Dr. Brothers studied the popular game show The $64,000 Question and realized that the most popular contestants were the ones with the most improbable interests. At 5', with delicate features, Brothers, who had a PhD from Columbia and a near-photographic memory, became a self-taught expert on boxing before becoming a contestant. The result of her astute analysis and hard-charging studying was that, after riveting weeks on the show, she became the first woman to win the big prize.

That national attention led to a multi-pronged media presence as a straight-shooting advice expert. She had several TV shows that bore her name, a call-in radio show, a column in Good Housekeeping magazine, and she enjoyed frequent guest appearances on television. She also authored several books, including the 1981 What Every Woman Should Know about Men.

Dr. Brothers, who was 85, died in Fort Lee, NY of respiratory failure.

2013 Edgars have been announced

Last night, the Mystery Writers of America announced the winners of the 2013 Edgars, the mystery genre's most prestigious awards.

Some of the winners are:

Best Novel -- Dennis Lehane for Live by Night. Joe Coughlin, younger brother of Danny Coughlin (The Given Day, 2008) and the son of a cop, becomes a crime boss in Florida in 1926 during the Prohibition.

Best First Novel -- Chris Pavone for The Expats. Kate Moore used to be a CIA spy until she met, fell in love with, and married Dexter. Parenthood turns her off to the dangers of espionage, but her professional radar is triggered when Dexter's job moves them to Luxembourg where new friends, fellow expats, Bill and Julia, do not seem to be what they claim to be.

Best Paperback Original -- Ben H. Winters for The Last Policeman. It takes a special detective to investigate a homicide masquerading as a suicide, when an asteroid is six months away from destroying Earth. But NH investigator, Nick Palace, is no ordinary cop.

Best Fact Crime -- Paul French for Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China -- In 1937 China, the teenage daughter of a retired British consul is brutally murdered and her father refuses to rest until he finds who committed this heinous crime. French brings to edge-of-seat life, the chain of evidence in this case.

For a complete list of all the winners, please check here.

George Jones, Country-Western heartbreak crooner, has died

George Jones, whose beautiful sad country ballads consoled countless broken hearts, died today in Nashville.

Born in Pensacola, TX in 1931, Jones lived his songs. Famous for missing concerts when he was on a drunken tear, he survived drugs, car crashes, several divorces and repeated financial ruin. His third marriage, in 1969, to Tammy Wynette took the meaning of tempestuous into the stratosphere. They wrote and sang of the endless drama and tragedies in their relationship which lasted just six years, but produced some real blockbuster country songs, such as Good Year for the Roses and \We're Gonna Hold On. Their daughter, Georgette, told their story from her point of view in her 2011 memoir, The Three of Us: Growing Up with Tammy and George.

One of his most wrenchingly sad songs; He Stopped Loving Her Today, was pure George Jones at his mournful best. The song's subject yearns tragically for years for a lost love and dies with a smile on his face.

Jones won countless awards for his body of work. He was honored by the Country Music Association, was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and last year he was presented with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Jones, who had been hospitalized on April 18th, was 81.

E.L. Konigsburg, two-time Newbery Medal winning author and illustrator, has died.

E.L. Konigsburg, author and illustrator of 21 books for children, teens, and adults, has died.

Elaine Konigsburg, born Elaine Lobl in New York City, grew up in small Pennsylvania towns as the middle of three daughters. Though her family would rather she cook or clean, she was a voracious reader. She taught science at a girls' school after graduating college with a chemistry degree and marrying David Konigsburg.

After her third child began attending school, Konigsburg began to write, publishing Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and me, Elizabeth, which received a Newbery Honor, and Newbery Medal winner From the mixed-up files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler in 1967.

Of her characters, Konigsburg said, "the kids I write about are asking for the same things I wanted. They want two contradictory things. They want to be the same as everyone else, and they want to be different from everyone else.They want acceptance for both."

Konigsburg won another Newbery Medal in 1997 for The view from Saturday, making her one of five authors to win the prestigious award twice.

Her historical novel A proud taste for scarlet and miniver and short story collection Throwing shadows were both National Book Award finalists.

I encourage you to take a look at E.L. Konigsburg's books in the AADL catalog. You may find yourself revisiting an old favorite or trying something new!

Hot New Book Tells How to Get Ahead by Giving

A friend who saw Adam Grant speak recently in Ann Arbor highly recommends his book, Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success. If you missed Grant's visit here, you can read the New York Times magazine article about him or visit the book's website. This graduate of the University of Michigan apparently believes that the way we relate to other people has a lot to do with the success we achieve. From a book description in the AADL catalog: "Using his own cutting-edge research as a professor at Wharton Business School, Adam Grant shows how helping others can lead to greater personal success. He demonstrates how smart givers avoid becoming doormats, and why this kind of success has the power to transform not just individuals and groups, but entire organizations and communities."

Frank Bank, aka Lumpy on Leave It to Beaver, has died

Frank Bank, who played Lumpy Rutherford in the popular 1950s sitcom, Leave It to Beaver, died yesterday.

In a role that today probably would not be played for laughs, Lumpy was a large overweight friend of Wally Cleaver (played by Tony Dow), Beaver's aka The Beav's (Jerry Mathers) older brother. Even then television made the connection between being bullied at home (Lumpy's father often berated him -- ("big oaf " and "big boob" were two favorite insults of Mr. R.'s)) and passing it on to the outside world (Lumpy often targeted The Beav).

In real life, Bank was a very successful California municipal bonds broker who was known for his generosity. He and another Beaver actor, Ken Osmond who forever immortalized the slimy suck-up to grown-ups, Eddie Haskell, raised lots of money for veterans' charities.

Mr. Banks died just one day after his 71st birthday.

Maria Tallchief, brilliant 20th century ballerina, has died

Maria Tallchief, stunning American ballerina who danced to the choreography of Balanchine, Bronislava Nijinska, and Agnes de Mille, has died.

Ms. Tallchief was born of an Osage father and Scottish-Irish mother who, for a time, raised their family on a reservation in Oklahoma that saw overnight wealth when oil was discovered. When Maria was eight, they moved to Los Angeles where Tallchief began dance lessons with Ernest Belcher. Four years later, Bronislava Nijinska, a famed Polishchoreographer, took over.

In 1942, Tallchief joined the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo where George Balanchine cultivated a personal and professional relationship with the young dancer. They married in 1946.

Eager to be out on his own, Balanchine formed a dance company (with a patron of the arts, Lincoln Kirstein) which became the famed City Ballet in 1948. When Tallchief's contract expired with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo (she returned to them in 1954, four years after her divorce from Ballanchine), she became one of City Ballet's biggest stars.

Her role in Stravinsky's Firebird in 1949 launched her celebrity, fame which was enhanced by roles as the Swan Queen in Swan Lake and The Nutcracker (the Sugar Plum Fairy).

Ms. Tallchief hung up her toes shoes in 1966, but stayed active the ballet world, notably as the artistic director of the Chicago City Ballet and as founder of the Lyric Opera's ballet school. She wrote of her fascinating life in her memoir, Maria Tallchief: America's Prima Ballerina (1997).

Her daughter, Elise Paschen, with her third husband, Henry Paschen, is a renowned poet.

Ms. Tallchief, who was 88, died in Chicago.

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