And the Oscar Goes To…

Last night at the star-studded 87th annual Academy Awards, Oscar winners were announced for the best in film for the past year. Top honors went to Birdman for Best Picture, Big Hero 6 for Best Animated Feature, Citizenfour for Best Documentary Feature, and Poland’s Ida for Best Foreign Language Film.

Individual Oscars went to Alejandro G. Iñárritu for Best Director for Birdman, Eddie Redmayne for Best Actor for The Theory of Everything, and Julianne Moore for Best Actress for Still Alice. Supporting nods going to J.K. Simmons for Whiplash and Patricia Arquette for Boyhood.

While Birdman won top prize in three of the top categories - The Grand Budapest Hotel also soared with nine nominations, taking home four Oscars, including: Achievement in costume design, Achievement in makeup and hairstyling, Achievement in production design, and Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original Score) .

Here is a full list of winners and nominees in all categories. What a year for film! Be sure to check out the other nominated films. (Of course here’s a quick list of AADL-owned titles.)

Did you watch? What were your favorite moments? What were the biggest surprises?

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #514 - "I want to trespass boundaries, erase all identifications, anything which fixes one permanently into one mold, one place, without hope of change.” ~ Anaïs Nin

Debut novelist Angelina Mirabella's The Sweetheart refers to Leonie Putzkammer, a 17 year-old with little prospect, living and caring for her widowed father in a Philadelphia row house and waiting tables at a diner. When an impulsive feat of athleticism on Bandstand comes to the attention of Salvatore Constantini, the legendary wrestling promoter, she is offered a chance to recast her future.

At Joe Pospisila's School for Lady Grappling, Leonie is put through a grueling regiment of physical training in and out of the ring; and coaching in dramatics (wrestling is after all, entertainment). To build a fan base, Leonie recreates herself as Gorgeous Gwen Davies, being tall, blonde, curvaceous does not hurt. Before long, she becomes known as "The Sweetheart of the ring" and has a genuine shot at the championship.

But the loneliness of the road, the injuries, the burden of finance eventually put a strain on her relationship with her out-of-work father, her tag-team partner/friend Screaming Mimi Hollander, and even on her budding romance with Sam (Spider) McGee, a men's champion wrestler. At a critical time in her debut season, Leonie finds she has a difficult decision to make.

"An engrossing portrait of the little-known (1950s) world of women's wrestling with questions about the nature of stardom and showing love..." "Angelina Mirabella's surprising, affecting, and morally complex novel describes how a single decision can ripple through the lives of everyone around us."

Recommended for those who enjoyed League of Their Own, a motion picture about the All American Girl’s Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) in the 1940s, based on a true story, and The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg - the story about five women who worked in a Phillips 66 gas station during the WWII years.

SELMA - Because They Marched

SELMA the movie, is up for Academy Awards 2015.
The story began over 50 years ago.
I was twelve years old when the Selma story was taking place in 1965.
My father was a Lutheran Campus Pastor, and my mother was a "Social Problems" Lecturer, at Mankato State University in Minnesota.
Pope John XXIII had convened "Vatican II", creating momentous changes within the Catholic Church.
Many people felt compelled to support and participate in the changes and history was being documented.

History is an amazing thing, and witnessing legends decades later is a moving opportunity.
The subject is especially timely when it falls during African-American History Month.
I find movies, documentaries and youth non-fiction overviews to be my favorite way to review and remember.
If you also like to research an era, surrounding a major movie, the following lists are some my recommendations on this era:

From the DVD Movie Collection:
SELMA
SISTERS Of SELMA: Bearing Witness For Change, includes first person interviews of participants in the civil rights movement, and the march from Selma to Montgomery.
FREEDOM RIDERS, "an astonishing testament to the accomplishment of youth" ... "personal conviction and the courage to organize against all odds."

From the Youth Collection:
BECAUSE THEY MARCHED: The People's Campaign For Voting Rights That Changed America, a new journalistic book covering the movement.
SELMA, LORD, SELMA a DVD movie, through the eyes of a child.
FREEDOM WALKERS: The Story Of The Montgomery Bus Boycott, the movement that produced a famous icon in Rosa Parks.
RUBY BRIDGES, a film of Ruby Bridge's story of integrating a grade school in New Orleans.

Significant biographies of little-known people who practiced for change:
The GIRL FROM The TAR PAPER SCHOOL: Barbara Rose Johns, a story that signifies common experiences leading up to the Civil Rights Movement.
CHILD Of The CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT, Paula Young Shelton remembers the time.
AS FAST AS WORDS COULD FLY, a story based on personal experience of the author's father, Mason Steele.
The SCHOOL Is NOT WHITE! The Carter family stuggles to integrate an all-white school in Drew, Mississippi, in 1965.
LITTLE ROCK GIRL 1957 Nine African-American students made history when they defied a governor and integrated an Arkansas high school in 1957.
THROUGH MY EYES Ruby Bridges recounts the story of her involvement, as a six-year-old, in the integration of her school in New Orleans in 1960.

Hello, Spring! New Picture Books About Nature

It may not seem like it now, but spring is right around the corner! What's a better way to say hello to spring than by reading stories about gardens, flowers, and nature? These new nature books are sure to fill you with the warmth that is soon to come.

Lola Plants a Garden by Anna McQuinn and Rosalind Beardshaw stars Lola, a thoughtful little girl who wants nothing more than to create her very own garden just like in the "Mary Mary, quite contrary" nursery rhyme. She joins her mother for every step of the process, including plotting out an area, buying the seeds, and watching her beautiful flowers grow!

Mummy's Little Sunflowers by Angela McAllister and Alison Edgson features little mouse siblings who would love to give their mother a sunflower as a gift. The only problem is, little Scamp ate the sunflower seed that they were going to plant! Where will Scamp and Scurry find a sunflower now? Join them for a bright, colorful, and exciting adventure through the meadows of the countryside.

Some Bugs by Angela DiTerlizzi and Brendan Wenzel is an action-packed and highly visual introduction to insects! Discover all the different activities that bugs do throughout the day, such as building, singing, hiding, and swimming. Readers will pore over the detailed and vibrant illustrations.

Breathe by Scott Magoon is a simple yet powerful story about a beluga whale exploring the sea. The illustrations imply calming movement that beautifully accompanies the peaceful text. Try pairing this book with soft music to get readers ready for quiet time.

Looking for more great reads about spring? Check out Miss Rachel's list of spring books as featured in her storytime!

New Sherlock Holmes Story Found in a Scottish Attic


A new Sherlock Holmes story by Arthur Conan Doyle has recently surfaced after being stored away in an attic in Scotland for more than 50 years. This is the first new Holmes story by the character's creator since the last adventure was published 80 years ago.

The story, Sherlock Holmes: Discovering the Border Burghs and, by deduction, the Brig Bazaar, is in the public domain and can be read freely online. Conan Doyle wrote the story to be part of a booklet called Book o' the Brig created as part of the Scottish town of Selkirk's fundraising effort to build a new bridge in 1904. The booklet's owner, historian Walter Elliot, received the booklet by a friend over 50 years ago, and stored it in his attic.

It's unusual that cleaning out one's attic results in an international news story, but mystery fans everywhere are rejoicing at this new addition to the Holmes canon!

Chef on DVD

Jon Favreau directs and stars in Chef. In the film, Chef Carl Casper loses his restaurant job with help from a public scene that goes viral. He is struggling with finding time for his son while dealing with his ex-wife. He longs to cook creatively and finds himself in a rut. Casper eventually gets talked into heading to Miami to open up his own food truck making his own food his own way.

The truck ends up on a road trip across America with Carl, his son, and his soux chef played by John Leguizamo. The film is funny, touching, and foodilicious! Bring on the Cuban street food! The film also stars: Dustin Hoffman, Scarlett Johansson, Sofia Vergara, and Amy Sedaris. Fun!

Big Magic for Little Hands!

Are you a kid looking for something new to do? Never fear! Big Magic for Little Hands is the latest and greatest authority on how to become a real-life magician. Inside are 25 astounding illusions for young magicians. Discover how to perform amazing magic tricks, such as how to levitate your brother, how to perform a Houdini-inspired escape, how to vanish your homework, and more! Learn the biggest tricks of the trade, such as how to conquer stage fright! Find out magic's biggest rules (and when to break them). You can even look to history's most famous magicians for more inspiration... Adelaide Hermann and Matthew Buchinger are just a few of the magicians featured in this book.

Authored by the champion of the World Magic Seminar, this fantastic book features step-by-step instructions (with pictures!) leading you through each and every trick. Along the way are cool facts about other aspects of producing magic. For other resources (and for additional illusions), be sure to check out our other books about magic. As the late great Roald Dahl once said, "A little magic can take you a long way".

Award Winning Audiobook: Ready Player One

Ready Player One 2011. 15 hrs., 41 min.

Awards: The book received an Alex Award from the American Library Association and won the 2012 Prometheus Award.

Author: Ernest Cline

Narrator: Wil Wheaton

It is the year 2044, and Wade Watts is like everyone else - he escapes the horrible circumstances of his life by spending nearly all his time in the OASIS, a limitless world of virtual reality. Ready Player One is the story of a massive treasure hunt, where clues are only solved by players with the greatest knowledge of 1980s pop culture, and the quest for money and power undermines the future of the human race. This fast paced and engaging audiobook is enhanced by Wil Wheaton’s expert voice acting, and as a self proclaimed geek, the narrator is a perfect fit.

For similar audiobooks, check out:

Surface Detail by Iain Banks
Makers by Cory Doctorow
Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson
The Magicians Trilogy by Lev Grossman

Absolutely Oatrageous!

If you are looking to amp up your morning breakfast routine, then check out Kathy Hester's newest book, Oatrageous Oatmeals!

The book starts off with more conventional ways to use oats, including delectable and creative oatmeals such as Apple Pear Baked Steel-Cut Oatmeal and Pumpkin Coffee Cake Oatmeal. However, it also delves into other breakfast ideas such as muffins, granolas, coffee cakes, and breakfast bars. These are all great ideas for those snuggly winter mornings when a warm breakfast is welcome, but what about the summer months? "Oatrageous Oatmeals" also includes several recipes for overnight oats, which are cool and satisfying refrigerated oatmeals.

The most surprising part of this book is the addition of several savory recipes for lunch and dinner. Picky kids (and grown-ups!) won't even be able to tell that there are protein-packed oats in their Chickpea Veggie Soup or their Potato Gnocchi. Those with specialized diets can find something to love in this book too; all recipes have omitted the use of meat and dairy products, and included alternatives to omit gluten as well.

Kathy Hester is well-known for her contributions to the Key Ingredient blog as well as other online publications. She has written three other cookbooks.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #513 -“When one was reinventing oneself, anywhere could be home.” ~ Manju Kapur

A debut novel - Searching for Grace Kelly * by Vanity Fair contributing editor Michael Callahan, is "a wonderful champagne bubble of a book - glamorous, aspirational, and relatable! The fifties never seem so fun! Wicked, naughty and clever." ~ Melissa de la Cruz

In the 1950s, there is no address more glamorous than New York's Barbizon Hotel for Women where the likes of Grace Kelly, Lauren Bacall, Joan Crawford, Edna Ferber, and Sylvia Plath have called home. For Laura Dixon, former debutant, and a patrician beauty from Smith, arrives to work as a guest editor at Mademoiselle on the annual August college issue. In short order, she catches the eye of the most eligible bachelor in all of NY, and befriends a bartender of great intellect. Her wildly romantic, slightly thrumpy, take-charge roommate Dolly Hickey is a Katie Gibbs girl, counting on secretarial school and a job in publishing to spare her from the drudgery shared by the women in her working-class family upstate. Above all, she longs for her own prince-charming.

Vivian Windsor, a brash, redheaded British bombshell dreams of a singing career, while working as a cigarette girl at the famous Stork Club in the meantime, waiting for her big break, taking pleasures where she can, and breaking all the rules (Barbizon and otherwise) along the way.

Together, the three young women embark on a journey of self-discovery that will take them from the penthouse salons of Park Avenue to the Beat scene of Greenwich Village to Atlantic City's Steel Pier -- and into the arms of men who will alter their lives forever.

"Callahan's debut novel truly captures glamorous New York City from young women's perspective in the 1950s." "(He) suavely combines literary finesse and pulp fiction to create a fast-moving, heart-wrenching tale of romance and tragedy."

For those who remembered fondly The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe (adapted into an Academy Award-nominated film); The Group by Mary McCarthy; and Rules of Civility by Amor Towles.

If you like your settings strictly contemporary, try Brooklyn Girls by Gemma Burgess and Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close.

* = starred review

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