The Play Ground

How time flies. Mozart would have been 250 years old this coming January. Remember that movie Amadeus?-he would have been only 228 then. The Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra is celebrating this important milestone with MOZART'S 250TH BIRTHDAY BASH. Saturday, January 21, 8pm at the Michigan Theater. Roll over Beethoven and tell Tchaikovsky the news.

Not the End of the World

“Tff.Tff. Single drops of rain raised little divots of dust, as though invisible feet were running over the dirt… had begun.”

Everyone knows the story. How it rained for forty days and forty nights. How Noah collected two of each animal and forbade anyone but his family on the Ark.

But Geraldine McCaughrean’s book, Not the End of the World, tells another story. It’s the story of Shem who cares only for the glory of his lineage and of Japheth whose only concern is the animals. At the center of the story is Timna, Noah’s daughter, who tells us how she rescues a boy and his baby sister from the flood and hides them from her father. The animals, too, have a voice. The terrified rabbit, the defiant raven, and the predatory lion all have their say. Frightened, hungry and desperate human and animal struggle to survive. But in the end it is Noah’s wife who questions her husband’s reasoning, defies him and saves her daughter. Not the End of the World won the British Whitbread Children’s Award for 2004. Well deserved, I’d say.

Luke Goes to Bat by Rachel Isadora

Luke wants to play stickball with his older brother Nicky. He gets his chance and fails. After he is taken to a Dogders game to see his favorite player, Jackie Robinson, he learns the lesson of hard work and determination. Set in Brooklyn, New York, in the 1950's, Rachel Isadora offers a touching tribute to one of America's best baseball players.

Poet Pattieann Rogers wins the 2005 Lannan Literary Award for Poetry

Pattiann Rogers

Pattiann Rogers, one of America's best modern poets, was awarded the prestigious Lannan Literary Award for Poetry for 2005. The Lannan Literary Awards and Fellowships were established in 1989 "to honor both established and emerging writers whose work is of exceptional quality."

In awarding Rogers the $125,00 purse, the Lannan Foundation said of her writing: "Roger's wise and complex poems read like a series of witty but deeply felt explorations of the phusical world and the presence of the divine." Among her twelve volumes of poetry are: Generations (2004), Song of the World Becoming: New and Collected Poems, 1981-2001 (c2001), and The Expectations of Light (c1981).

Margaret Hodges, prolific children's author, dies at 94

Margaret Hodges, author of dozens of books for children, died December 20, at the age of 94. In addition to her popular retelling of well-loved legends, Hodges also wrote many biographies for children.

Ms. Hodges, a former children's librarian, received numerous prestigious literary awards, including the Caldecott Medal for Saint George and the Dragon: A Golden Legend (adapted from Edmund Spenser's Faerie Queene), illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman, (1984).

Patricia Van Tighem, 1958-2005

Canadian Patricia Van Tighem, whose harrowing account of her savage mauling by a grizzly in 1983 is recounted in her memoir The Bear's Embrace: A Story of Survival, has died.

Van Tighem and her husband Trevor Janz were hiking near Montana in the Canadian Rockies when a brown grizzly appeared out of nowhere and attacked her husband. In horror, Van Tighem sought refuge in a nearby tree but the bear climbed after her and destroyed her face.

Van Tighem's life since then had been a nightmare of endless surgeries, relentless pain, and severe bouts of post-traumatic stress syndrome. When she wrote The Bear's Embrace in 2001, her family hoped it would trigger a full emotional recovery.

Records of the Year?

Another year-end list! This time it's the top three records of the year according to Entertainment Weekly's David Browne. 1) Extraordinary Machine, by Fiona Apple; 2) Guero, by Beck; 3) Late Registration, by Kayne West.

Read more about EW's choices...or tell us your own.

2005 National Film Registry Titles

On Tuesday, the Librarian of Congress announced his annual selection of 25 films to be added to the National Film Registry. Among the feature titles are The French Connection, Cool Hand Luke, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, The Music Man, The Sting, A Raisin in the Sun, Toy Story, Hoop Dreams (the current Criterion release, left, is one of Entertainment Weekly's top DVD picks for the year), and this cult classic.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts

You know that feeling --- you found that perfect pair of pink-satin kitten heels on the sale rack and it is YOUR size. Oh that thrill of discovery, you just have to call your girlfriends. It is that way for me when I come across a first novel or a new author that is a cut above. In the next months, I will be sharing some of my finds with you.

Koula by the three-time Greek national book award winner Menes Koumantareas is the first of his works to be translated (nicely done by Kay Cicellis) into English.

Originally published in 1978, this timeless novella is set in Athens. The plot is fairly clichéd – an affair between young handsome Dimitri and the middle-aged Koula. What distinguishes this 88-page little gem is the “spare, immaculate prose… and the ending that is logical, appropriate, and poignant without being cheaply bittersweet”. A perfect short read. Starred review in Booklist.

One Thumb Up--Roger Ebert's Best of 2005

Roger Ebert has announced his list of the best movies from 2005. The library has many of these movies in its collection and more are on the way. The list includes Fear and Trembling, Millions, Hustle and Flow, and two movies starring Joan Allen, The Upside of Anger and Yes. Ebert also mentions several movies that are candidates for his annual Overlooked Film Festival, including The Woodsman, starring Kevin Bacon.

What's on your best of 2005 list?

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