The Shepherd's Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape

It is possible that there has been subsistence farming with sheep in the Lake District of England for at least 5000 years. James Rebanks can trace his family’s participation in this economy for the last 600 of them. Oxford-educated, Rebanks returned home to continue the tradition and is now the popular tweeter of his life as a shepherd at @herdyshepherd1, with a following of 67,000. He is also the best-selling author of The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape.

The mountainous and remote Lake District was popularized by poets and walkers, like the Wordsworths and Alfred Wainwright, and is a prime tourist attraction, drawing upwards of 12 million visitors per year. But it is a harsh, inhospitable environment for a farmer. Only very special breeds of fell sheep, who evolved in the mountains, can survive. The farmers of the region need a sturdiness and resoluteness, in the face of numerous obstacles, to stay on the farms they have inherited and continue the long tradition of shepherding. Even the sheep dogs here are especially hardy and tenacious, Border Collies with specific training in retrieving the half-wild sheep from the ravines and crags of the fells where they are let loose in the summer, so the lower fields can be used to harvest hay.

The Shepherd’s Life is the story of Rebanks's farm and family. James leaves no stone unturned in examining the histories of both, including all the less than idyllic moments and encounters. In the process he recounts the history of an ancient way of life, with age-old attractions and antipathies, the challenging relationship to the struggles and triumphs of a life tied to the land, and the difficulties of maintaining dignity and purpose in the face of common prejudices against farmers and farming. His deep commitment to his landscape and his abiding love and respect for the grandfather and father who taught him how to survive in it are evident on every page.

Ultimately, the book is a rallying cry for the importance of good farms and smart farmers, a pastoral manifesto for the continuity of farm families who carry their attachments to their places forward with heart, who live, breathe and work their landscapes. “This is my life. I want no other.", says Rebanks. It is a delight to read about this life, set in the beauty and constancy of his mountains, continuing the story his ancestors began.

Download of the Day: June 30

Dead Mans Hand - Seismic Anamoly

This instrumental album brings power guitar and a heavy metal feel together into a homegrown rock and roll sound.

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Surrealism At Its Most Hilarious!

OH MAN. You guys have to read this book! It’s so weird and beautiful and hilarious. I first discovered the author, Lisa Hanawalt, through her Maximum Fun podcast with comedian Emily Heller, Baby Geniuses. Since I started listening to the podcast, I’ve been trying to convince everyone else I know to listen to it too, and I am so thrilled to do the same with Hanawalt’s book!

My Dirty Dumb Eyes, by Lisa Hanawalt, is an adult graphic novel with a series of comics on strange subjects. Topics range from “What do Dogs Want??” (one answer: a tennis-ball bride) to “The Secret Lives of Chefs” (“Christina Tosi employs a child think tank to come up with recipes for Milk Bar”) to “North American Wildlife and Hats,” which features images such as an elk in a “New Jersey turnpike hat”, and a desert hare sporting a “lazy susan hat with hotdog and pancake condiments.”

The drawings in this book are just as surreal and gorgeous as you could hope for. The book is full of bright, bold colors and meticulous details. It contains very mature themes and drawings, so it is not for young folks. But all you grown ups out there, check out My Dirty Dumb Eyes now!

 

Nerd Nite #25: Plot Twists and Revelations - The Story of Science

Media Player

June 18, 2015 at Live! 102 S. First St.

When you think of science, what comes to mind? For many people, science springs to mind a collection of facts they tried to memorize for various exams. Veronica Taylor shows another side of science: the story of science. This talk guides viewers on a journey through the drama of the scientific process, how scientific ideas evolve, and how they are are communicated.

Length: 00:15:15
Copyright: Creative Commons (Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-alike)
Rights Held by: Ann Arbor District Library


Download of the Day: June 29

The Heat of the Moon - Sandra Parshall

An incident on a rainy night sends veterinarian Rachel Goddard down a rabbit hole of family secrets guarded by her manipulative psychologist mother.

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2015 Morris Award Winner and finalists!

Every year the Young Adult Library Services Association (YASLA) awards the William C. Morris Young Adult Debut Award for first time authors writing for teens.

This year the winner of the Morris Award was Gabi, a girl in pieces by Isabel Quintero. It is a story about a girl, Gabi, who is having a complicated senior year. From her best friend getting pregnant to another friend coming out, to looking for her own romance and trying to get into college. All while writing poetry and trying to forge her identity. There's a good reason this book won the award, it's great. The characters don't fall flat as can happen sometimes and the struggles that Gabi faces are ones that are easily identifiable (even if you've never experienced them yourself).

The other finalists in the award were

The Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann Foley a story about Maggie Lynch who is moved from Chicago to Ireland when her mother gets suddenly married. The story follows Maggie as she deals with life and death, love and loss.

The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim by C.K Johnston is a story about an alternate world where dragons abound and cause massive destruction. The story follows Owen a slayer in training, his bard Siobhan (pronounced She-vaughn) as they face a dragon in Canada.

The Scar Boys by Len. Vlahos is a story about Harry Jones who in a college admission essay reveals a childhood defined by his physical and psychological scars and the solace that he found in friendship and punk music.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is a story about a girl who is born with wings, to a family that is unwise in love. After a young man becomes convinced she is an angel it is uncertain if she will survive this strange obsession.

To see previous years winners check out These lists

Library Lists: Introducing Fine Art to Kids!

We know that kids love to create their own art, and children can recognize and be influenced by different artistic styles from a very young age. Learning about fine art can seem dry, but there are lots of great books geared towards younger ages that introduce famous artists and their work in fun and unique ways. Here are a few suggestions:

In the family-oriented An Eye For Art, children are introduced to over 50 famous artists and their work representing a huge range of styles and techniques. Related activities ranging from focused looking to creative writing and the child’s own artistic development accompany the information and images about each artist.

Learning Through Art, published by the Guggenheim Museum, offers art and art appreciation exercises based on well-known 20th century paintings and pieces from the Guggenheim.

Art Up Close: From Ancient to Modern is a beautiful book that emphasizes the finer points of various masterpieces by turning them into an “I Spy”-like game. In the same series, and just as well-done, are the Louvre Up Close and Masterpieces Up Close.

In Modern Art Adventures, kids are introduced to the fresh and unusual artistic styles of the past three centuries, then let loose to create their own art inspired by the techniques they’ve learned. Over 35 hands-on projects make sure that there’s something for everyone in this book.

Linnea in Monet’s Garden is an adorable introduction to Monet, his family, his garden at Giverny and his work. Readers will join a young girl as she visits the home and garden of Monet, and the illustrations include photographs from the painter’s life and of his work.

Ooh! Matisse is the most basic of introductions to fine art for the youngest readers. Portions of Matisse’s cut-out paper art are splashed brightly across the pages, and young readers will learn to recognize both the art and the words that describe it (“flower,” “square,” “figure,” etc.)

The Collins Big Book of Art opens with a useful timeline of the history of art: when different styles were developed and where, and what artists were doing around the world at different points in time. This collection is great for kids interested in artistic variety: from cave art to pop art, it has it all.

If you’re interested in other cool fine art books for children, check out the suggestions on this list.

Download of the Day: June 28


The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - L. Frank Baum

Dorothy Gale isn't in Kansas anymore! She's in the magical land of Oz, which is, like, the opposite of Kansas.

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Download of the Day: June 27


Captains Courageous - Rudyard Kipling

A spoiled son of a wealthy railroad magnate falls overboard during a sea voyage, and is picked up by a fishing boat captain and becomes a member of the crew.

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #537 - “Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.” ~ Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Our Endless Numbered Days * * by Claire Fuller is a dark and captivating debut that you are not likely to forget for a very long time, and one that you would be tempted to re-read, immediately.

Concert pianist Ute Bischoff scandalized the music world when she married James Hillcoat, a handsome and cocky teenager eight years her junior, who stood in one night as the page-turner of her music score. They settled into a comfortable family life until their daughter Peggy was eight years old. While Ute was away on a concert tour, James, an increasingly obsessed survivalist, took her to a remote hut in the woods, telling her that the rest of the world has been destroyed. For the next nine year, they lived rough in the wilderness, marking their days by the sun and the seasons, and making a life for themselves. Then Peggy saw an unfamiliar pair of boots in the forest and began to search for their owner...

"Fuller alternates Peggy's time in the forest with chapters that take place in 1985 after she reunites with her mother, building an ever-present sense of foreboding and allowing readers to piece together well-placed clues... (her) careful pacing gradually reveals the mystery of a life that is as sympathetic as it is haunting."

A fabulous crossover for mature teens, especially those who enjoyed The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean (a 2008 Printz Award Winner); Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson; Room by Emma Donoghue; and Stolen by Lucy Christopher, (a 2011 Printz Award Honor Book).

* * = 2 starred reviews

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