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.

Penny Seats Theatre Company Presents Elektra

The Penny Seats Theatre Company presents the Greek Tragedy Elektra at 7 pm July 11 – 12, 17 – 19 and 24 – 26 in Ann Arbor's West Park, 215 Chapin St. between Miller and Huron, Chapin and Seventh. The show, recommended for ages 16 and up, was written by Sophocles and translated by Anne Carson. A description of the play from Wikipedia: "Set in the city of Argos a few years after the Trojan war, it is based around the character of Electra, and the vengeance that she and her brother Orestes take on their mother Clytemnestra and step father Aegisthus for the murder of their father, Agamemnon." Tickets are $10 and picnic dinners are available. More information is here.

Emerging Writers: Writing & Review Meetup

Thursday November 20, 2014: 7:00 pm to 8:45 pm -- Traverwood Branch: Program Room

This event is intended for adults and teens grade 6 and up.

This is a monthly meetup that welcomes all writers to ask questions, connect with other writers, or simply have a dedicated time and place to work on their projects. Local authors Lara Zielin and Margaret Yang will be on hand to offer encouragement, answer questions, and point writers to resources. These open houses complement the Emerging Writers Workshops. These events feature perspectives from both traditional publishing and indie publishing.

Emerging Writers: Writing & Review Meetup

Thursday October 16, 2014: 7:00 pm to 8:45 pm -- Traverwood Branch: Program Room

This event is intended for adults and teens grade 6 and up.

This is a monthly meetup that welcomes all writers to ask questions, connect with other writers, or simply have a dedicated time and place to work on their projects. Local authors Lara Zielin and Margaret Yang will be on hand to offer encouragement, answer questions, and point writers to resources. These open houses complement the Emerging Writers Workshops. These events feature perspectives from both traditional publishing and indie publishing.

Emerging Writers: Writing & Review Meetup

Thursday September 18, 2014: 7:00 pm to 8:45 pm -- Traverwood Branch: Program Room

This event is intended for grade 6 - adult

This is a monthly meetup that welcomes all writers to ask questions, connect with other writers, or simply have a dedicated time and place to work on their projects. Local authors Lara Zielin and Margaret Yang will be on hand to offer encouragement, answer questions, and point writers to resources. Emerging Writers Workshops feature perspectives from traditional and indie publishing.

Get Twiggy With It

Are you pumped for this weekend’s big program Wooly Woods Crafting With Anna Hrachovec (of Mochimochi Land)?! Teens & adults will wrap twigs with yarn to make beautiful sculptures, as well as knit tiny creatures to live on them. Yes, twigs! Let me tell you, I know from experience that wrapping sticks with yarn is addicting, and the talented Anna takes it up a notch.

If you’re inspired to find more twig action, I recommend the book Super Simple Twig Projects: Fun and Easy Crafts Inspired By Nature. It's just that. A small youth-oriented book with some easy projects made of collected sticks and twigs. It goes over what supplies you’ll need to make things like trivets, dream catchers, baskets, vases, tiny rafts, and more. The question is: What if you wrap the twigs with yarn before you craft with them?

Adventure + Spirituality = Steps Out of Time

Several months back, Kate Soper gave me her book with this note tucked inside: "...I'm not sure what you'll think about this book! But my experience on the Camino meant a lot to me and I'd like to share it with you so here goes!" Full disclosure: I am a friend of Kate. That said, I also very much admire her book, Steps Out of Time: One Woman's Journey on the Camino.

Her spirited memoir is an account of a month-long, 500-mile hike across northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela. The narrative sparkles with natural beauty, camaraderie, memorable food, and the author’s personal determination to accomplish something magnificent. When she completed the hike, Kate was a changed woman.

Lots of research was done for this book, allowing Kate to offer practical advice including "12 Essential Tips for Santiago Pilgrims:" 1) Pack only lightweight, quick-drying clothing that you can layer. 2) Take well-fitting, well-used, and well-loved footwear, including good-quality, high-performance socks. 3) Your fully-loaded pack should weigh the lesser of 8 kg (17.6 lbs) or 10 percent of your body weight. (This includes a liter of water and the weight of the pack.). 4) Leave your phone at home. Ditto all other nonessentials. 5) Never leave in the morning without filling your water bottle and always carry food in your pack. 6) Wear a hat; keep your legs and arms covered or use sunscreen. 7) Bring a mechanical pencil and a lightweight journal (tearing off the cover will save a few ounces); write in it every day. 8) Unless you can sleep through noise equivalent to a freight train, bring ear plugs (snorers abound). 9) Be prepared to be humbled. 10) Remain determined to be open-minded. 11) Stop often to look and listen. 12) Try to be present in every moment.

This book is a great read and would well in a book group. Kate is retired and lives in Ann Arbor with her husband. She has worked as a lawyer, language professor, and U-M administator, among other jobs.

Scary Murder Mystery – With Ghosts!

In the mood for something spooky this summer? Then give The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud a try.

This unusual murder mystery is set in an alternative England where ghosts have grown more and more active in the last few decades and Psychic Detection Agencies like Lockwood & Co. employ talented young agents to track down and destroy the sources of these hauntings. When Lucy and her fellow Lockwood & Co. agents uncover an unsolved murder while searching for the source of a haunting, they decide to solve the mystery with the help of the victim’s locket…but someone is out to make sure they never solve this case.

Full of adventure and genuinely scary encounters with ghosts, this story may be written for children but it is not for the faint of heart. Recommended for fans of Alvin Schwartz’s scary stories or older readers who enjoyed Libba Bray’s The Diviners.

Audiobook fans may also wish to check out the audiobook of The Screaming Staircase, which was named one of ALA’s Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults 2014.

Running Like a Girl and other great books for runners of all types

Finally, a book that deals honestly with both the gains AND the pains that being a runner entails! Running Like a Girl: notes on learning to run, by Alexandra Heminsley, is a refreshing take on starting to run later in life, and on a runner’s life in general. For many of us—even those who are dedicated runners—the perspectives that we were “born to run” or that “running is a wonderful way to reconnect with the world and our bodies” don’t always ring true. Sometimes it feels like, more often than not, running can be painful, boring, difficult, or lonely, and frequently a combination of all four. This is why Heminsley’s story of taking up running in her thirties is so great. It doesn’t come easily to her, and she doesn’t love it. She doesn’t experience immediate gratifcation from a “runners high,” nor does she immediately lose twenty pounds. Her relationship with running is complex, and only becomes ultimately positive over time, and in ways that she did not anticipate. This book is great for runners of all sorts: those who have been running for decades, those who have just taken up the sport, and those who don’t run at all and therefore don’t even know yet that they can be runners!

If you’re interested in other books about running, try What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: a memoir, Running Away and the famous Once a Runner, about one runner’s quest to run a sub-4:00 minute mile. Finally, if you’re looking for scenic local places to run, check out Five-star Trails, Ann Arbor and Detroit, where you can find suggestions for trails to check out nearby. Happy running!

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