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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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.

The Signal of Liberty, Ann Arbor's 1840s-era abolitionist newspaper, goes online

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Join us at the Traverwood branch on Saturday, October 17, 2-4:00 p.m. to help us launch the online version of Ann Arbor's Signal of Liberty newspaper. The full text of this abolitionist newspaper, published in Ann Arbor in the 1840s, will be available online for the first time. Carol Mull, local historian of the Underground Railroad in Michigan, will be on hand at the launch to talk about some of the unique content in the Signal of Liberty and its role in her research; and Library staff will demonstrate browsing and full text access to over 12,000 articles and 312 issues of the newspaper. This project was done in partnership with the Bentley Historical Library and Digital Library Productions Services.

On Sunday, October 18, from 2-5:00 p.m., the African American Cultural and Historical Museum will host a related "Journey to Freedom" bus tour of local stops on the Underground Railroad. Click here for additional information about the tour.

Happy Birthday Mr. President!

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48 years ago today President Barack Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. (News outlets claim he is spending the day at the White House, lunching with the entire Senate Democratic Caucus.) On his birthday, August 4, 1961, John F. Kennedy held the office of the presidency in a very different United States of America. To explore the journey of Obama from Hawaii to Washington D.C., visit the AADL for a wealth of material, including books, dvds, books on CD and videos about this history-making man.

Culture of Struggle, Culture of Faith: A Juneteenth Event Featuring LaRon Williams

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Join celebrated storyteller LaRon Williams at Traverwood on Friday June 19 at 6pm as he commemorates Juneteenth, the oldest celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the U.S. Browse our collection of Juneteenth books here, including Ralph Ellison's Juneteenth, which deals with the holiday and its traditions.

(Audio) Fabulous Fiction Firsts #162

Sea of Poppies*, is the first volume of the Ibis Trilogy by Amitav Ghosh, one of India's best known writers and was shortlisted for the 2008 Man Booker Prize.

At the heart of this vibrant 19th century saga is an immense ship, the Ibis. Its destiny is a tumultuous voyage across the Indian Ocean, its purpose to fight China's vicious Opium Wars. Among the crew and cast are a motley array of sailors, stowaways, Indians and Westerners inexplicably connected by family, loyalty, honor, survival, greed, and imperialism. The vast sweep of this historical adventure embraces the lush poppy fields of the Ganges, the rolling high seas, and the crowded backstreets of Canton (China). “But it is the panorama of characters, whose diaspora encapsulates the vexed colonial history of the East itself that makes Sea a masterpiece. “ ~Boston Globe

Admittedly a bit daunting for readers unfamiliar with the history, culture, languages of Indian sub-continent but narrator Phil Gigante’s nuanced performance brings the book to life.

* = Starred reviews

Happy Birthday Marvin Gaye!

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Marvin Pentz Gay, Jr., better known as Motown legend Marvin Gaye, was born April 2, 1939. Celebrate this singer/songwriter's birthday by checking out some of his music from the AADL. Try Blue Velvet: The Ultimate Collection by his early R&B band The Moonglows, or pick up some of his solo classics like the 1971 release What's Going On, his 1973 release Let's Get It On, Love Songs, or the Marvin Gaye Concert Anthology.
To learn more about this Grammy winning musician and his tragic personal life, check out the biography Mercy, Mercy Me: The Art, Loves and Demons of Marvin Gaye, Trouble Man: The Life and Death of Marvin Gaye, or What's Going On? : Marvin Gaye and the Last Days of the Motown Sound. Many Marvin Gaye fans also recommend reading Divided Soul: The Life of Marvin Gaye, which isn't terribly well-written, but is largely based on interviews for a projected autobiography that was cancelled after Gaye's death in 1984.

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