Life in the Nebraska Sandhills

Stunning prose and a moving story of a Nebraska family caught in its own history mark The Floor of the Sky by Pamela Carter Joern. Toby Jenkins, 72, tries to hold on to the Sears Roebuck farmhouse she's lived in since the 1920's but an opportunistic banker has profits on his mind and a ready buyer. In the midst of this crisis comes Lila, Toby's 16 year old pregnant granddaughter sent by her mother to spend her incubation time with her grandmother. Metal-studded Lila, at first angry and uncommunicative, finds solace in Toby's love and then begins to uncover secrets about Toby's youth. These characters grew on me and I began to care what happened to them.

Joern's novel is part of the Flyover Fiction series edited by Ron Hansen from the University of Nebraska Press. The Press publishes special editions and critiques of the work of Willa Cather as well as an impressive number of books on the West and Native Americans, especially the Sioux.

Help Fight Plant Blight

flowerflower

The Natural Area Preservation is holding a training session on Thursday, March 8, noon-5 p.m. for volunteers interested in assisting with the prescribed ecological burn program. Without prescribed fires, invasive plants gain a competitive edge, threatening the existence of native plants like upland boneset and oval ladies tresses.

I Am Plastic: the Designer Toy Explosion

I Am Plastic is a large format color photographic celebration of the new age of plastic toy figures.

I have wandered through the Vault of Midnight admiring the striking plastic toys that are clearly designed for a demographic of which I am not part. I have a plastic toy Tintin with Snowy under his arm in my office and a hundred Star Wars figures (my kids’) at home. The plastic toys in this book are different from them because they are generally not from anything. They were invented as toys and are very creative, clever, and provocative.

There is a four page introductory essay at the front of the book and fifteen very brief Q & A interviews with plastic toy designers at the back of the book. The interviews have answers to “What’s in your pocket?”, “What do you eat for breakfast?”, “What’s on your iPod?” and other more directly pertinent questions such as “If you could have invented a toy or character that someone else made, what would it be and why?”

The rest of the book is great color photographs of the plastic toys arranged on a white background with small captions giving the names of the toys and the year they were created. The book is organized by country (they originated in China and Japan though the U. S. is now a major creator), then by designer.

Take a look. Pretty weird and wonderful.

Here Come the Sandwich Boards

sandwich boardsandwich board

The Ann Arbor City Council has approved a pilot project to allow stand-alone sandwich boards within the DDA district beginning April 1, 2007. The Community Standards Unit monitors signs in public right of ways. To contact Community Standards with a comment or complaint you may either call (734) 994-1788, or e-mail CommunityStandards@ci.ann-arbor.mi.us.

Kid Bits - NEW Folklore

Don't forget the folklore for family storytimes. It's a great way to travel the world without leaving home. NEW titles in the library are The Great Race: The Story Of The Chinese Zodiac; The Hare And The Tortoise And Other Fables Of LaFontaine; and Storytime: First Tales For Sharing.

Debut Author Visits the Library

Don't miss a fabulous opportunity to meet Dinaw Mengestu as our Sunday Edition featured speaker on March 11, 2-3:30 p.m. at the Downtown Library.

A nuanced slice of immigrant life, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears* is a beautifully observed debut from Ethiopian émigré Dinaw Mengestu . (Fabulous Fiction Firsts #54).

Sepha Stephanos, fled the Ethiopian Revolution as a teenager, now he owns a neighborhood grocery store in a section of Washington, D.C going through gentrification. Evenings are spent with other African immigrants until he befriends his new neighbors - Judith, a white academic and her 11 year-old biracial daughter, Naomi.

Racial politics, changing demographics in this formerly poor African American neighborhood threatens his barely profitable shop, as well as his tentative romantic aspirations with Judith. This poignant story makes for a “heart-rending and indelible” first novel.

* = Starred Reviews in Kirkus and Publishers Weekly.

The media is definitely interested in this fiction rising star - just check out Jennifer Reese's article in the current issue of Entertainment Weekly and Bob Thompson's piece in the March 1st edition of the Washington Post

Got tape? Then create!

Don’t miss Duct Tape! Re-Mix at Pittsfield Tuesday, Feb. 27 from 1-3 p.m. We’ll provide the tape - in a bunch of colors from camouflage to pink - and you do the rest. Make what you want and meet other tapeheads. We’ll have duct tape books like Got Tape?: Roll out the fun with duct tape on hand for inspiration.

Britney Spears - "Has she lost her hair or lost her mind?"

Bald Britney SpearsBald Britney Spears

Okay, okay... I know that was a little harsh... but when a news anchor delivered the line with a straight face, I laughed pretty hard... (Ummm, I guess you had to be there...)

Anywho... I figured this was a good time to highlight AADL's collection of Britney Spears CD's. You should also check out the March 5th edition of People magazine (yes, we have that too). Then come back and tell us what your theories are on the whole situation...

:-D

Embracing Eatonville at UMMA Off/Site

EMbracing EatonvilleEMbracing Eatonville

There is still time to visit the photography exhibition Embracing Eatonville at the University of Michigan Musuem of Art Off/Site (through March 18th).

Located in Orange County, Florida, Eatonville was the first incorporated African-American community in the nation. Today, it is perhaps best known for its annual showcase of arts, literature and culture that celebrates native daughter Zora Neale Hurston.

The current exhibition "celebrates the spirit and character of Eatonville through the work of contemporary photographers Dawoud Bey, Lonnie Graham, Carrie Mae Weems, and Deborah Willis, each of whom have created a new body of work for this exhibition as they explore the importance of place to individual and collective identity".

Reading in a Magazine about Google's Book Project

Jeffrey Toobin is one of my favorite writers, so I was immediately drawn to his article “Google’s Moon Shot: The Quest for the Universal Library” in the Feb. 5 issue of The New Yorker magazine. You, too, can read about what Google is doing with its book digitization project in Ann Arbor and elsewhere, just by picking up this issue of The New Yorker from one of our libraries -- or read the article at The New Yorker web site.

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