History Bits - MLK Day

We remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and African-American history this month. If you are in grade school and need report information, you can find articles to read in our website databases, such as this article on MLK in INFOTRAC Kid's Edition. Or this article on peaceful demonstrations during the civil rights movement.

Tempting fate (or not?)

Is fate a tease, an illusion or a controller of one's life? These are questions David Case who re-names himself Justin Case, ponders. As evidenced by this name change, Justin thinks he needs all the help he can get after the close call when his year old brother Charlie almost flies out the window. Justin doesn't fit in and soon finds some kindred souls in Angela, a photographer who likes to take pictures of disasters, an imaginary greyhound named Dog and Peter, the most normal of the lot, who encourages Justin to take up long distance running.

When Justin and Angela find themselves among the survivors of a catastrophe at the airport, Justin's fears multiply and he can't see his way free from the forces of doom.

Alternately funny, horrifying and always thought provoking, Meg Rosoff's new book, Just in Case has some of the same dark elements as her Printz Award winner, How I Live Now.

Night Boat to Freedom by Margot Theis Raven

"What color is freedom tonight?" Granny Judith asks Christmas John each time he returns from his trip across the Ohio River to freedom. Christmas tells her the color of the garment worn by the slave he just rowed to freedom. Granny Judith then adds another swatch on her quilt with a new color of freedom. Night Boat to Freedom by Marot Theis Raven is a well-written warm and inspiring book of courage and love.

Slow Week for New Titles

Only one new title Into White by Carly Simon cracked the top 50 on the Billboard 200 this week. Into White entered at number 15. Moonlight Serenade was her last release in 2005.

New Fiction Titles on the New York Times Best Sellers List (1/7/07)

There are no new titles this week! However, it is also that time of year when newspapers and magazines start making their "Best Fiction of 2006" lists. I want to nominate one of my personal favorites, The Dead Hour by Denise Mina. It may not make an official list but this riveting thriller will delight many readers looking for something different. Featuring Glasgow crime reporter Paddy Meehnan, the most unconventional heroine to come along in a long time, this is the second (after Field of Blood) in a planned series by Mina. And after you have read these books, you can have the pleasure of catching up with her earlier books, including the Garnethill series.

Reading Rainbow Contest

Reading RainbowReading Rainbow

Calling all Kindergarteners through Third graders! Do you like to write and illustrate your own stories? Enter your masterpiece into the 13th Annual Reading Rainbow Young Writers and Illustrators Contest. For entry form and rules, visit the Detroit Public Television website, call (313) 876-8196, or email readingrainbow@dptv.org. The contest deadline is March 27, 2007.

Every entrant will receive a Certificate of Achievement signed by host LeVar Burton. Three stories will be chosen from each grade level as national winners, and be featured in a gala awards show to be aired on Detroit Public Television.
Grand Prize: Laptop
Second Place: Flat Panel TV and DVD Player
Third Place: MP3 Player
Each of the twelve winners will also receive Reading Rainbow library sets of 10 DVDs and books for their home, school and library.

For books and movies that have been featured on Reading Rainbow, check out our collection at the library.

1001 Nights of Snowfall

For those of you already familiar with Bill Willingham’s Fables, you probably don’t need my recommendation to check out this anthology. For those of you not familiar with the Vertigo/ DC Comics series, 1001 Nights of Snowfall is a great introduction to the characters that make up Fabletown.

Snow White is sent as an envoy to solicit the help of King Shahryar, an Arabian Sultan, against the Adversary, enemy to all of Fablekind. She soon finds herself entrapped by the Sultan and must fill the nights with stories to beguile him and save her own life. Backstories of some familiar characters are told, which Willingham approaches with more detail than was given in the original tales. Find out what happened to the witch after Hansel and Gretel pushed her into the oven; the unexpected twist in the tale of Snow White after she marries her prince (she’s more independent than Disney portrayed); and why the Big Bad Wolf is so big, bad, and bitter. This book is also a splendid showcase for the talents of the many artists who contributed.

Please remember, though this book does retell the tales of beloved fairy tale characters, this book is not intended for children.

Celebrating Fiction Shorts

Short stories are one of the most under-appreciated fiction genres. That’s why it was so satisfying to see The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel picked as one of New York Times’ TOP 5 FICTION OF 2006.

While Amy Hempel is one of a handful of writers who has built a reputation based solely on short fiction, there are many more recent releases that deserve a serious look.

Saffron and Brimstone: Strange Stories* by Elizabeth Hand.
Lovely and unsettling - these 8 stories give a sensual and apocalyptic perspective on modern society, with art, death and sex all swirled together.

The View from Castle Rock :Stories* by Alice Munro.
12 exquisitely constructed tales from the grand dame of short fiction, centered around the Scottish Laidlaws and their migration to the New World, drawn from letters and family lore.

Lately* by Sara Pritchard.
11 loosely linked stories which "examine the quirkly lives of a handful of people...(who) sparkle with equal part courage and bewilderment". Masterful.

St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves*(FFF) by Karen Russell.
This first story collection of 10 upbeat, sentimental fables, narrated by articulate, emotionally precocious children from dysfunctional households is a thing of beauty, not to be missed.

Everybody Loves Somebody : Stories* by Joanna Scott.
From a McArthur Fellowship and Lannan Award winner, a stylish and apt depiction of everyday life, quietly well crafted, that will leave a lasting impression.

*= Starred Review(s) You might ask - "What about the guys?" That's next, I promise. <--!break-->

Rethinking the Plaza

thinkerthinker

The City of Ann Arbor and the Downtown Development Authority are seeking further input through Jan. 31, 2007 on plans to improve Sculpture Plaza. Plans include new lighting, landscaping and reconfiguring the seating and tables. Offer your comments to City Parks Planner Amy Kuras by phone at 734.994.1827 or via email akuras@a2gov.org.

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