Author Reading: Photographing the Giant Squid

At Literati bookstore, 124 E. Washington St. in downtown Ann Arbor, they're preparing to host a reading by author Matthew Gavin Frank on Aug. 4 at 7 pm. Frank will read from his book Preparing the Ghost: An essay concerning the giant squid and its first photographer. The author teaches creative writing and lives in Marquette, Michigan.

Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good

Mark your calendars: Kathleen Flinn, author of Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good: Recipes of love, loss, and adventure from an American Midwest family, is scheduled to visit Nicola's Books in Ann Arbor on Aug. 20 at 7 pm. The book, according to a description in the AADL catalog, "...Presents a recipe-augmented family history that traces the origins of the author's love affair with food to her Midwestern youth and her parents' San Francisco pizza parlor . . ."

Mystery Author Linwood Barclay Coming to Ann Arbor

Popular writer Linwood Barclay, whose latest book at AADL is No Safe House, will appear at Nicola's Books in Ann Arbor on Aug. 4, starting at 7 pm. Here is a description of the book from our AADL catalog: "Seven years ago, Terry Archer and his family experienced a horrific ordeal that nearly cost them their lives. Today, the echoes of that fateful night are still audible. Terry's wife, Cynthia, is living separate from her husband and daughter after her own personal demons threatened to ruin her relationship with them permanently. Their daughter, Grace, is rebelling against her parents' seemingly needless overprotection. Terry is just trying to keep his family together. And the entire town is reeling from the senseless murder of two elderly locals. But when Grace foolishly follows her delinquent boyfriend into a strange house, the Archers must do more than stay together. They must stay alive. Because now they have all been unwillingly drawn into the shadowy depths of their seemingly idyllic hometown. For there, they will be reconnected with the man who saved their lives seven years ago, but who still remains a ruthless, unrepentant criminal. They will encounter killers for hire working all sides. And they will learn that there are some things people value much more than money, and will do anything to get it. Caught in a labyrinth between family loyalty and ultimate betrayal, Terry must find a way to extricate his family from a lethal situation he still doesn't fully comprehend. All he knows is that to live, he may have to do the unthinkable..."

In-season cooking

Now is the perfect time to take advantage of all the fresh produce available from local grocery stores, farmers markets and maybe even from your own back yard! For many, the biggest question is how to prepare all your yummies once you get them home. At the Ann Arbor District Library you can find a bounty of fresh produce cookbooks that might give you new ideas on how to cook old favorites or help you find new favorites to add into your daily menu. In Susie Middleton’s cookbook Fast, Fresh & Green you’ll find simple recipes that will teach you how to turn out delicious vegetable side dishes in under 30 minutes. On a side note, don’t expect a vegetarian recipe book when checking this one out as the chef uses pork in a few dishes. Of course, you can almost always modify recipes to meet your dietary needs.

If it's vegetarian recipes you’re looking for you can check out issues of the magazine Vegetarian Times. Vegetarian Times is a monthly magazine published nine times a year (three double issues) that is chock-full of healthy recipes geared for cooking with in-season produce. In addition to the tantalizing recipes each issues offers product recommendations, as well as great tips for making your cooking experience easier.

Happy 313rd Birthday, Detroit!

Another year, another birthday for the D. But this year’s celebration stands out because it’s the 313rd birthday for a city with area code 313! That number rings loud and clear in Detroit and surrounding cities. 313 is worn with pride on shirts and tattoos across town.

To get more of your fill of this dynamic, struggling and recovering city, check out some of the newer books in our collection regarding Detroit food, travel, art, recreation, and more:

Detroit food: coney dogs to farmers markets

Lost Detroit: stories behind the Motor City's majestic ruins

Belle Isle to 8 Mile : an insider's guide to Detroit

Detroit country music: mountaineers, cowboys, and rockabillies

Built in Detroit: a story of the UAW, a company, and a gangster

Detroit an American autopsy

Detroit City is the place to be: the afterlife of an American metropolis

Best bike rides Detroit and Ann Arbor: great recreational rides in Southeast Michigan

For more titles, be sure to check out the rest of the book titles in our collection. There are so many good ones!

Cozy Classics

If you ever get tired of checking out the same board books about shapes and colors, you can round out your board book reading with Cozy Classics. Each of these adorable little books feature classic stories such as Moby Dick, Pride and Prejudice, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Each classic tale is condensed into 12 words that relate to a child’s world such as “friend,” “mean,” or “chase.” On the page opposite each word appears a needle-felted illustration that provides a visual for the plot. These illustrations are gorgeous in their detail and their beauty alone is a good reason to check out these books.

Parents who know the original stories will enjoy these books and may also appreciate the opportunity to introduce their little ones to such great works of literature so early.

“Enchanting… a service to literate families everywhere” ~ The Wall Street Journal
“Capture[s] the imagination of young readers” ~ Reading Rainbow

If you like the concept of introducing your young children to classic literature but the Cozy Classics aren't appealing to you, try a BabyLit book. These books teach concepts such as opposites and the weather with the backdrop of stories such as Sense and Sensibility and Wuthering Heights.

"Oldies but Goodies!"

There are so many fun kids’ books out there from recent years that sometimes we forget about the great older books that are still fantastic reads today! If you or your children are looking for something new to read, why not try something “old?”

Newbery Medal winner The Westing Game, first published in 1978, is a wonderfully mind-twisting tale of a group of people—all potential heirs to the inheritance of an eccentric millionaire—who must race one another to solve the mystery of his death before one of them can claim the money. The fun quirks of the different characters keep the book interesting and funny, and make this a great story for older elementary readers.

A Long Way From Chicago, published in 1998, and its companion, A Year Down Yonder (2000), both by Richard Peck, are fantastic read-aloud stories and audio books. The Newbery Medal-winning A Long Way From Chicago is really a series of short stories, told from the perspective of a young boy who visits his wild grandmother with his sister during the Great Depression. Their visits produce all sorts of experiences and memories and make for a wonderful, heart-warming story that has stuck with me since I first had the book read to me in, well, 1998.

The Phantom Tollbooth (1961) opens with a terribly bored boy who can never find anything to do that amuses him. Arriving home from school one day to find a mysterious gift in his bedroom, he is ultimately transported to a magical land where he has grand adventures and even goes on a quest to save two princesses trapped in a castle in the air! Reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland, this is an endlessly entertaining story with lots of great puns and wordplay.

Other lovely “older” reads are: All-of-a-Kind Family (1951), From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (1967), Our Only May Amelia (1999), Harriet the Spy (1964), The Borrowers (1953), and Bud Not Buddy (1999).

Attachments, by Rainbow Rowell

After reading Rainbow Rowell’s Printz Honor winning teen novel Eleanor & Park and falling in love with it, I was very excited about what was next from her. I then ate up the next teen novel Fangirl, even though it didn’t taste quite the same as Eleanor & Park. While waiting for another teen book by her I went back and grabbed her adult novel, Attachments – and it was a delightful read.

In Attachments it’s 1999 and Lincoln’s job as “internet security officer” is to monitor company email, reading and flagging any inappropriate work emails being sent. He gets caught up in reading email conversations between Beth and Jennifer. They talk about life as best girlfriends should, sharing many intimate details. He knows he should flag the emails and turn them in, but he can’t – he has to continue reading their saga. Lincoln falls for Beth through reading these emails, which are just hilarious. (I want to hang out with Beth and Jennifer and laugh at their quips.) But how will Lincoln ever be able to meet Beth in person and not mention that he’s been reading about her life and that he feels like he knows her?

Oh, does Rowell write some funny dialog! I really enjoyed the alternating format of reading Beth and Jennifer’s email exchanges laced with chapters about Lincoln’s life – living with his mother, playing Dungeons & Dragons, joining a gym, and reconnecting with a college buddy in order to force social interactions on his awkward self. It's a great summer read, even for those not into love stories.

Next up from Rowell is Landline, and she’s also collaborating on writing two graphic novels, according to her wonderfully designed website.

Roar said Dragon!

This week in Ms. Amanda’s preschool storytimes we read books about dragons! Dragons who breathe fire and eat castles in The Paper Bag Princess, dragons who are looking for a friend in A Friend For Dragon, and dragons who count and make way too much noise in One Drowsy Dragon. Which shows you that not all dragons are as fierce as Smaug.

For more picture books featuring dragons check out this nice list. And to see what else we've been reading at storytimes this summer check out this list of books.

Exciting new summer releases for adults and teens!

Summer is far from over, and the next few weeks will offer up a release of lots of exciting new summer reads for teens and adults, perfect to bring along on August vacations!

The Queen of the Tearling is the debut novel in a new fantasy series by Erika Johansen. This first book introduces the main character, a princess raised in exile, who begins a perilous journey back to her homeland to attempt to claim the throne that is rightly hers. Although the story brings to mind medieval times, it actually takes place in the 24th century, and the world is as easy to get lost in as Westeros or Panem. Additionally, Warner Brothers has already bought rights to make a movie of the book, and Emma Watson will star in the film!

Dollbaby, by Laura Lane McNeal is a coming-of-age story set in New Orleans in the 1960s and 70s. Upon her father’s death, 12-year-old Ibby is dropped off at the home of her eccentric grandmother Fannie, whom she has never met. Taken under the wing of the housekeeper, Queenie, and her daughter ‘Dollbaby,’ Ibby grows up with a backdrop of the Vietnam War and events surrounding the passing of the Civil Rights Act. As she gets older, she learns more and more about the life of Fannie, and about the events that have shaped her into who she is today. Reviewers of this book have called it “heart-warming” and “beautiful” and it is certainly a must-read for historical fiction fans.

Landline is the latest novel by favorite author Rainbow Rowell. Fans of hers will be excited to read work by her more geared towards adults, but with the same wonderful character development and believability that she is known for in her YA novels. Landline tells the story of Georgie’s crumbling marriage, and through flashbacks (and some tinges of the paranormal) readers see the circumstances that have lead Georgie to where she is today. Readers experience through Georgie her own struggles in making choices about the decisions that many of us make in our lives surrounding career, family, and home. Despite the magical element to the story, Landline is a relatable and realistic read.

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