February is National Bird-Feeding Month

It's been a rough winter here in Michigan, and we're not even done with it yet. But this weekend when I heard birds twittering in the trees amidst the snowfall, it put in mind the coming spring, and that's something to be excited for! While we're waiting for our beloved heralds of spring, the red-breasted robins*, there are still feathered friends among us who would probably appreciate a little celebration this February, so break out the seeds and suet - it's National Bird-Feeding Month!

Check out The Backyard Bird Feeder's Bible, The Backyard Bird Lover's Ultimate How-To Guide, or The Bird Watching Answer Book for the who/what/where and when of feeding wild birds.

Not sure what birds you've got visiting your yard? Try Birds of Michigan: Field Guide, Birds of Michigan, National Geographic Field Guide to Birds: Michigan, or The Birds of Washtenaw County, Michigan. More of an auditory person? Birds of Michigan: Field Guide has an accompanying CD to help identify birds based on their vocalizations.

(*You can help observe and track the spring migration of the American robin. According to the data, looks like many are arriving early or have overwintered here!)

Now Available Through AADL: 250+ Downloadable & Streaming Albums from Ghostly International & Spectral Sound

For over a dozen years, record label Ghostly International has made Ann Arbor its home. Haven't heard of them? The Ann's piece highlighting them as a "hidden gem" will help get you up to speed.

Founded in 1999 in a dorm room by a then-UM student, Sam Valenti IV, the label has grown steadily in scope and size. Beginning with talented locally-based artists such as Matthew Dear and Dabrye, the Ghostly crew has expanded over the last decade-plus to include illustrious alumni and around a dozen currently active artists, including Shigeto, ADULT., and Tycho. A spin-off/related label -- Spectral Sound -- also emerged, and 100+ of their albums are also included in this special AADL collection.

As its roster of musical artists has grown, Ghostly has also maintained a careful, deliberate approach to the visual elements of each release (and to the aesthetic of the label as a whole), evident by their attention to cover design and frequent partnerships with companies that are beyond the imagination (aim) of many more traditional labels.

AADL is thrilled to partner with Ghostly to offer DRM-free downloads and streaming of 150+ Ghostly and 100+ Spectral Sound albums to all AADL cardholders. All you need is to have an AADL library card. Then, login with your linked AADL online account, and all of these tracks are yours for the listening!

Frances Ha on DVD & Blu-Ray

Directed by Noah Baumbach, and written and Baumbach and Greta Gerwig, Frances Ha follows the story of a twenty something New York woman, portrayed by Gerwig, who is a bit lost in life. Her best friend and roommate Sophie is moving on with her fella, leaving Frances to find an alternative. While working at a local dance company, she finds a new apartment with some friends, has money trouble, visits her parents, and heads back to New York. She continues to have fun while not quite accept the reality that is around her. In this Criterion Collection indie film Frances is a lively character and you can’t help but root for her as she fumbles through life decisions.

Comic Artists Forum with Ryan Estrada

Sunday February 2, 2014: 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm -- Downtown Library: 4th Floor Meeting Room

This event is intended for adults and teens (grades 6 and up).

Connect with artist/adventurer/editor/cool dude Ryan Estrada on Skype and learn how to be your own editor.

Ryan grew up wanting to work for animation studios and comic book companies, but now—even better—he travels the world creating his own comics and is his own boss! Ryan will talk about how to build your own career and make your own art.

The Forum is for comics enthusiasts AND cartoonists—beginning and professional. Bring your drawing tools and drop in for learning, drawing and sharing.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #450 - For All Ages

Here is something extraordinarily fun and quirky and I hope, unexpectedly moving as well.

"If Roald Dahl had rewritten The Picture of Dorian Gray to include a gang of 24 bandits and a giant balloon, the result might have been Gianni Rodari's wonderfully improbable novel that, for all its humor, is loosely based upon the 1978 kidnapping and murder of Italian politician Aldo Moro" and that! would be Lamberto Lamberto Lamberto.

When we first meet 93-year-old millionaire Baron Lamberto, he has been diagnosed with 24 life-threatening ailments, one for each of the 24 banks he owns. But when he takes the advice of an Egyptian mystic and hires servants to chant his name over and over again, he seems to not only get better, but younger, to the chagrin of his ne'er-do-well nephew who is impatient to inherit.

When a terrorist group lays siege to his island villa, his team of bank managers has to be bussed in to help with the ransom negotiations, and a media spectacle breaks out . . .

Gianni Rodari (October 23, 1920 -April 14, 1980) was an Italian writer and journalist, most famous for his books for children. The recipient of the Hans Christian Andersen Award in 1970, Rodari is a household name in Italy among educators and parents, not to mention children. Influenced by French surrealism and linguistics, Rodari advocated poetry and language play as a way to recover the rhythm and sound of oral tradition and nursery rhymes. One of Italy's most beloved fables, Lamberto is only now translated into English. Much of the charm lies with Maggioni's ink drawings in this edition.

Meet “It’s All Write!” Judge #1: Carrie Ryan

The “It’s All Write!” Teen Short Story Contest has officially begun, so it’s time to introduce our phenomenal panel of judges!

Carrie Ryan, bestselling author of the “Forest of Hands and Teeth” series, loves to write fiction for young adults. In addition to her popular book series, she has written two short stories set in the zombie-ridden world of “Forest of Hands and Teeth” and has contributed to several anthologies. Keep an eye out for the “Forest of Hands and Teeth” movie, which is currently in the pre-production stage.

Carrie is a true Renaissance woman: she has lived in South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, and Massachusetts. She has played multiple sports including soccer, field hockey, cheerleading, lacrosse, hiking, and cycling. Growing up, Carrie also showed her leadership skills through student government and a local renovation project. After moving on to become a litigator, she now writes full time.

To learn more about Carrie Ryan and her thoughts on writing and life, visit her website and her blog.

Stay tuned for the rest of the “It’s All Write!” judges in forthcoming blog posts!

Above all, pursue happinesss, and not more stuff

Tiny houses are, for many Americans, the new “dream house,” and are sprouting everywhere: in the city, the suburbs, backyard, woods and meadows, and on the beach, lakeside and water.

The book, Tiny Homes, Simple Shelter: Scaling Back in the 21st Century, is not so much the ‘how’ of building a tiny house as a sourcebook of inspiration and delight. Chock full of color pictures of tiny dwellings with such charm, whimsy and practicality as to make you begin to dream about one yourself. (My personal favorite: the hobbit house in Wales, pictured here.) Most have been constructed with a minimum of cost, using found and repurposed materials, and many are energy neutral.

A tiny house is not for everyone. Perhaps you would prefer a tiny apartment, a small house or, at least, a not-so-big house. Imagine having no mortgage, minimal utility bills, little furniture and clutter, and no 'stuff' in the basement and attic. Ah.

To further explore the history and style of ecological houses, made from natural materials and melding into the landscapes in which they are situated, try this dvd, First Earth. Very inspiring.

Kid Bits - Pirates

A Pirate Ship is in the display case @ Malletts Creek Branch .... so kids are asking "Where ARE the pirate books?"

NEW titles are here:
PIRATE'S GUIDE To RECESS
LOOKING For BLACKBEARD'S TREASURE
LEARN To DRAW PIRATES
MAMA HOOK KNOWS BEST
NO BATH! NO CAKE! POLLY'S PIRATE PARTY

You can find many more pirate books in my PIRATES Public List.
To all Scurvy Mates ... AAaargh!

New TV Series @ AADL

Keep your eyes on the list of new TV shows to hit AADL’s catalog, including new seasons of your favorite shows, as well as newly acquired series. Here are a couple new-to-AADL shows for you:

Elementary, Season 1
A contemporary take on the legendary detective Sherlock Holmes who investigates crimes in modern-day New York City as a consultant to the NYPD and is assisted by Joan Watson, a former surgeon, who is hired by Holmes' wealthy father to help keep the eccentric detective sober. (aired 2012-present)

Raising Hope, Season 1 & Season 2
A one night stand becomes a life-long commitment when twenty-three-year-old Jimmy Chance inadvertently impregnates a wanted felon and decides to raise Hope on his own in this critically acclaimed first season. (aired 2010-present)

The Middle: Season 1
The show focuses on the daily mishaps of a harried woman and her semi-dysfunctional family and their attempt to survive life in general in the city of Orson, Indiana. (aired 2009-present)

Newhart: Season 1
Dick Loudon and his wife, Joanna, run a small country inn in Vermont where they're surrounded by an eclectic group of friends and neighbors who have more than a few screws loose. (aired 1982-1990)

Bob Newhart show: Season 1 & 2
The professional and personal misadventures of a psychologist and his family, patients, friends and colleagues. (aired 1972–1978)

2104 Notable Books - The Fiction List

Here are the winning titles for the 2014 Notable Books List — The American Library Association's annual literary award that identifies 25 outstanding, very readable, and at times very important fiction, nonfiction, and poetry books for the adult reader. Again, we are pleased to see a number of first novelists getting the recognition.

Fiction Winners

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The nuances and challenges of race, emigration and cultural identification are explored through the lives of two Nigerian lovers.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. What would happen if death were just a new beginning?

Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat. A bittersweet fable of modern Haiti told in luminous prose.

Too Bright to Hear Too Loud to See by Juliann Garey. The fragmented and unsettling perspective of a man grappling with mental illness. (A FFF - blog)

Enon by Paul Harding. A father struggles with the accidental death of his 15 year-old daughter. Grief on paper.

The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma. Around the world with a charmingly unreliable narrator in this coming-of-age tale. (A FFF - blog)

The Dinner by Herman Koch, translated from the Dutch by Sam Garrett. If they sat next to us in a restaurant, we would do well to simply study our forks.

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra. An affirmation of life amidst the chaos of war-torn Chechnya. (A FFF - blog)

The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud. A taut psychological drama of slow-burning anger.

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. Tokyo meets Sunnyvale and British Columbia through a purple gel pen, a tsunami and a Hello Kitty lunchbox with a side of quantum physics.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. A terrorist bomb blows apart a 13-year-old boy’s world.

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