Ann Arbor Film Festival's DVD Release Party

Looking for something to do tonight? Catch the premiere of the AAFF Volume 7 DVD at the launch party on Tuesday, October 14 at 9pm at Arbor Brewing Company. As part of WCBN's monthly movie night series, WCBN and AAFF will co-present the first peek at the Volume 7 DVD featuring award-winning films and other works of interest from the 52nd AAFF. Doors open at 8:30pm and the movie begins at 9pm.

Can't make it tonight? AADL has DVDs from past festivals that you can check out. You can also explore the Ann Arbor Film Festival Archive featuring photos, interviews, posters, articles, and programs from the history of the fabulous film festival.

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.

Cinema of Jean Rollin

Fall is a good time of year to explore some darker films that make us think. Jean Rollin is a French film director, actor and novelist that helps us do just that. A slew of Rollin's French language films are now in the AADL catalog! What should you expect from his films?

Revered by enthusiasts of fantasy and horror films, but largely overlooked by the critical mainstream, French filmmaker Jean Rollin (1938-2010) is finally being given the recognition he deserves. His surreal, dreamlike films are grounded in traditional gothic imagery but are flavored with 1970s-era eroticism, resulting in a body of work that is as eerie as it is outrageous. Though constrained by low budgets, Rollin managed to drench his films in atmosphere and used them as unvarnished expressions of his own personal fears and desires. As Tim Lucas of Video Watchdog has written, Rollin’s films represent “the very heart and soul of ‘le fantastique’-”its flamboyance, its melodrama, its sense of the impossible made possible. They do not scare us; they were designed to delight us, to arouse our imagination, to move us.”

A sampling of our collection includes: The shiver of the vampires, Zombie lake, Two orphan vampires, The grapes of death, and many more to choose from.

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.

Star Wars Reads!

On Saturday, October 11 libraries and book stores across the country will be celebrating the 3rd annual Star Wars Reads Day! It’s a day to celebrate reading and all things Star Wars. Last year over 2,000 Star Wars Reads Day events took place! Do you geek Star Wars? Do you geek books?

Hey kids, maybe you’re into Star Wars graphic novels, chapter books, easy readers, or informational books. Or maybe you dig all things LEGO Star Wars! Adults, maybe you’re into Star Wars graphic novels, science fiction books, or informational books. There are also plenty of Star Wars graphic novels and novels for teens too. AADL has many books to choose from for all ages.

Don’t forget about the Star Wars television shows and movies also available for consumption!

This Saturday at noon at Malletts Creek we are hosting a craft program featuring Star Wars themed crafts for children in Grades K-5. Join us! May the Force be with you no matter how you choose to celebrate or what books you choose to read.

2014 Nobel Prize for Literature Awarded to Patrick Modiano

French author Patrick Modiano became the 111th person to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. The reason given by the Swedish Academy was “for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation.”

Born outside Paris in 1945, Modiano is a prolific novelist and screenwriter. His work continually combines topics such as identity, guilt, and memory with recurring places, namely Paris, and events, often the German occupation of France during World War II.

For example, Mondiano's novel Missing Person, which won France's Prix Goncourt in 1979, features an amnesia-stricken private investigator determined to use his paltry clues to piece together the story of his life from before the Nazi occupation. The book draws from classic noir fiction and ghost stories, but is a thematically rich and atmospheric read. Check our catalog for more books and films by Modiano.

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