It's Funky...

This morning I was walking down the sci fi section, looking for something unique to blog about. As I looked at all of the books, the title of this one jumped out at me, The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad by Minister Faust. With a title like that, how can you go wrong? Set in Edmonton Canada, the book is filled with quirky pop culture references, like RPG style statistics for all of the major characters and Star Wars quotes just to name two. Follow the exploits of Hamza and Yehat, The Coyote Kings, best friends and underachievers as they search for a lost artifact with the mysterious Sherem. Can they find it before their rivals do?

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #196

A Southern debut novel sparkling with humor, heart and feminine wisdom, Beth Hoffman's Saving CeeCee Honeycutt* is about a vulnerable young girl who loses one mother and finds solace in the “perfume world of prosperity and Southern eccentricity, a world that seems to be run entirely by women".

12 year-old CeeCee Honeycutt finds it hard to grieve for her mother (a loony former beauty queen) who walks in front of an ice cream truck. Her father offers no comfort. In fact, he promptly packs her off to Savannah to live with Great Aunt Tootie.

In this Steel Magnolias (1989) meets The Secret Life of Bees, Saving CeeCee is "packed full of Southern charm, strong women, wacky humor, and good old-fashioned heart. It is a novel that explores the indomitable strengths of female friendship", and the promise of new beginnings. A feel-good read with wide appeal.

Teens will find it easy to relate to CeeCee's struggle to reclaim a "normal" childhood, anger of abandonment, and her yearning for a place to call home. Recommended. (100,000 first printing)

* = Starred review

Celebrate Black History Month with a Museum Adventure Pass!

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Check out a Museum Adventure Pass at any AADL location and take a visit to one of the many museums celebrating Black History Month this month, like The Henry Ford. You can see the interactive musical, Minds on Freedom, participate in Hands-on Freedom, and visit the With Liberty and Justice for All exhibit. Note that regular admission costs apply to these exhibits, as passes are for the Rouge Factory Tour, but all activities are free with Museum admission.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #195

While friendship stories are commonplace in women's fiction, one that depicts 4 slave women set in the mid -1850s is still a rarity.

Wench* traces the friendship between Lizzie, Reenie, Sweet and Mawu at an Ohio resort where Southern men bring their slave women. Over the course of three summers, these women came together to bare their souls, contemplate their future and support each other through sorrows and occasional joy.

First-time novelist Dolen Perkins-Valdez draws on research about the resort that eventually became the first black college Wilberforce University for the setting while she explores the complexities of relationships between these women and their white owners.

"Compelling and unsentimental", "heart-wrenching, intriguing, original and suspenseful, this novel showcases Perkins-Valdez's ability to bring the unfortunate past to life". ~Publishers Weekly. A good readalike for Cane River by Lalita Tademy.

For further reading on women in slavery, we suggest: Ar'n't I a Woman? : Female slaves in the Plantation South by Deborah Gray White and Labor of love, Labor of Sorrow : Black women, work, and the family from slavery to the present by Jacqueline Jones.

* = Starred review

AADL Productions Podcast: Lola Jones and Carol Gibson

Lola Jones and Carol Gibson are well-known to anyone familiar with Ann Arbor history. Over the past 30 years they have sought out and documented the history of the African American experience in Ann Arbor through a series of projects under the moniker Another Ann Arbor; it is largely through their work that the Ann Arbor African American story is a part of our shared community identity. Lola and Carol stopped by the library to talk with us one day about the work they have done over the years and where they are headed next. They shared with us some of the interesting people and events they have learned about and brought to the community in their television program, their documentaries, and their book.

You can now watch one of their documentaries online at aadl.org in our video collection. A Woman's Town was produced in 1991 and tells the story of Ann Arbor through the voices of prominent African American women.

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AADL_Productions_Podcast-Lola_Jones_Carol_Gibson.mp3 30.8 MB

Happy Birthday Jerry Pinkney!

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Jerry Pinkney (born December 22, 1939) is an African American illustrator of children’s books. Even if you are not familiar with his name, it is likely that you have seen the work of this prolific artist. Jerry Pinkney has illustrated over one hundred children's books since 1964. He has been the recipient of numerous awards including five Caldecott Honor Medals, five Coretta Scott King Awards, four Coretta Scott King Honor Awards, four New York Times Best Illustrated Book awards, and, in 2006, the Original Art’s Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Illustrators, New York, NY. His books have been translated into eleven languages, and published in fourteen different countries. For more information about this beloved illustrator including his current projects, exhibitions and contact information, visit his website http://www.jerrypinkneystudio.com or check out one of his books from us here at the AADL.

Pushing Push

Judging by the number of holds in our catalog, it looks like people are aware that we have the book Push which is the basis for the movie Precious and which has been receiving high praise lately. I used to work in the Washington DC Public Library, and Push was a staple in our collection... We needed to have it because it was consistently circulating among the African-American teenagers who frequented our library. Prompted by what I've been reading about the movie, I finally read the book recently, and it is quite a story, full of pain and tragedy but also much hope and courage. I really appreciate that it is her education in reading and expressing herself through writing that become Precious's lifelines as she rebuilds her life.

I saw the movie this weekend, and it captures the book quite well. Seeing so many unseasoned actors offering such deft performances is always a thrilling experience. I like to think that people will be talking about this story after they have read the book and seen the movie.

More November Books to Film

Feature film The Blind Side is based on Michael Lewis's sports biography The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game.

Teenager Michael Oher, homeless, wearing shorts and a t-shirt in the dead of winter is spotted on the street by Leigh Anne Tuohy who, without a moment’s hesitation, takes him in. What starts out as a gesture of kindness becomes much more as the family helps Michael fulfill his potential, both on and off the football field. Tim McGraw, Quinton Aaron, Sandra Bullock, and Kathy Bates star in this inspirational film. (November 20th release)

The Road is based on Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, set in an indefinite, futuristic, post-apocalyptic world, a father and his young son make their way through the ruins of a devastated American landscape, struggling to survive and preserve the last remnants of their own humanity. (Starring Viggo Mortensen and Charlize Theron , it opens November 25th everywhere).

Newcomer Christian McKay, Claire Danes, Zac Efron star in Me and Orson Welles - based on a romantic coming-of-age novel about a teenage actor Richard Sameuls, who lucks into a role in Julius Caesar as it’s being re-imagined by a brilliant, impetuous young director named Orson Welles at his newly founded Mercury Theatre in NYC, 1937.

Author Robert Kaplow chronicles the roller-coaster week leading up to opening night when the charismatic-but-sometimes-cruel young Welles stakes his career on a risky production while Richard mixes with everyone from starlets to stagehands. When the mercurial Welles casts his eye on the woman with whom Richard himself had fallen in love, all hell breaks loose. (Limited release November 25th).

AADL Productions Podcast: David Alan Grier

When David Alan Grier was in town to promote his book, Barack Like Me: The Chocolate-Covered Truth, Eli had a chance to chat with him about growing up in Detroit and his time in Ann Arbor while attending the University of Michigan in the late 1970s. DAG also talks about his work on In Living Color and Dancing with the Stars; celebrity and the internet; and Obama's inauguration.

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AADL_Productions_podcast-DAG.mp3 31.71 MB

Sign up for the Journey to Freedom tour

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On Sunday, October 18, from 2-5:00 p.m., the African American Cultural & Historical Museum (AACHM) will host a special "Journey to Freedom" bus tour. This popular tour of historical points of interest on the Underground Railroad--an official tour of the National Park Service--is led by Deborah Meadows of the AACHM. The bus departs from the front of the Industrial Technology Building on the campus of Washtenaw Community College, 4800 E. Huron Drive. (map) and tickets are $15. To reserve a seat, call 734-476-3158 or email deborahmeadows2@msn.com. This special tour accompanies the launch of The Signal of Liberty online, Saturday, October 17, from 2-4:00 p.m.

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