A journey toward healing

Rupert Isaacson's book, The Horse Boy is a moving and riveting account of his family's journey to Mongolia in hopes of healing his son, Rowan, who is autistic. Isaacson, who learned riding as a boy in England, discovers, after many kinds of treatments for his son, that Rowan has a natural affinity for horses when he takes him riding on a neighbor's horse. It takes some time to convince his wife to take what becomes a sometimes harrowing but ultimately successful journey to Mongolia where they entrust Rowan to the original horse people and their shamans. Isaacson conveys the rugged beauty of the landscape and the people who in their wisdom and belief in sacred rituals, bring both Rowan and his parents back from despair to hope.

Simon's Cat

If you are a cat lover check out the hilarious wordless comic strip collection called Simon's Cat by Simon Tofield. Tofield, a British animator, started with animated shorts of the same name, available for free on his website. Tofield does all the characters including the 'meows'.

Here is one of my favorites:

If you are interested in knowing more about cats and caring for one, AADL has many books to choose from, click here for a list

Peace and Poetry

Today, Oct. 21, is the International Day of Peace as proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations. It was conceived "as a day of global ceasefire and nonviolence, an invitation to all nations and people to honor a cessation of hostilities..." Check out the link above to watch a streaming video of events that are happening to commemorate the day.

Poetry has always been an effective vehicle for communicating emotions and thoughts. Following is a poem by Wendell Berry that speaks to the power of nature in helping us findinternational day of peaceinternational day of peace peace:

The peace of wild things

When despair grows in me
and I wake in the middle of the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Favorite children’s author to visit Ann Arbor

Michigan native Jon Scieszka will be reading and signing copies of his brand new book Robot Zot, on Tuesday, September 22 at 6pm, at the Borders located at 3140 Lohr Road in Ann Arbor. See here for Borders’ event description.

Robot Zot, illustrated by David Shannon, is in short, “a tale of a quixotic robot determined to conquer the earth.” Tiny Robot Zot battles kitchen appliances galore as he and his sidekick adventure off. Their course takes a shift when they spot the princess (a cell phone) and Robot Zot must prove himself a hero to win her love. Sounds zany!

This children's book rises and shines

For anyone who, like me, occasionally struggles to rise and shine, here's a wonderful book -- The Way to Start a Day by Byrd Baylor. In 1979 this book won a Caldecott Honor, so right there you know the illustrations are fabulous. The text is good, too, illuminating how people around the globe celebrate sunrise every day.

And They're Off! Runners Prep for Chicago and Detroit Marathons

There's one month left until the gun fires to signal the start of the Chicago Marathon on October 11, and the Detroit Free Press/Flagstar Marathon on October 18. First time marathoners looking for some advice can check out the books Run Your First Marathon by Grete Waitz, or Marathon: The Ultimate Training and Racing Guide by eminent training guru, Hal Higdon. For those veteran marathoners looking for some extra racing mojo, see Spirit of the Marathon, the story of several marathon runners of varying experience -- from first timer to pro -- all of whom are filmed while training for, and competing in, the Chicago Marathon.

Volunteers are still needed for both Chicago and Detroit marathons in such exciting positions as Course Marshal, Crowd Control, and Split Timer, so there's still time to sign up to participate in these inspiring events.

Teen Stuff: Being and Nothingness

In his 1943 essay, Being and Nothingness, Jean-Paul Sartre claims, "It is evident that non-being always appears within the limits of a human expectation." Sartre's awareness of the ability of death and/or absence to create meaning in life continues to resonate with authors and readers sixty years later. What has brought the authors below to reexamine this theme of loss and recovery? The sudden destruction of the WTC towers perhaps, or the disappearance of a viable American job market, or maybe something darker still.

Take Gregory Galloway's 2005 fiction, As Simple As Snow, a teen/adult crossover novel about a homogenized high school boy whose life suddenly becomes meaningful when his quirky, spontaneous girlfriend disappears the day before Valentine's Day. Or Carol Plum-Ucci's 2001 Printz Honor Book, The Body of Christopher Creed, where the titular character's mysterious absence casts a menacing shadow over a small town, eventually exposing the dark secrets of the people closest to him. And in John Green's 2006 Printz Award Winner, Looking for Alaska, Miles Halter's new life at Culver Creek boarding school is everything he could have hoped for in the "great perhaps" he was seeking, until tragedy gives his life new focus. Check out all of these novels from the AADL today.

A Really Terrific Graphic Novel with a Local Connection


Some would say that we are currently living in a golden age of television. Recent episodes of This American Life and Speaking of Faith have talked about the kinds of interesting television that is currently being produced. Those of us who work for the library see this everyday as people check out the next episodes of The Wire, The Sopranos, and Lost.

But there was a time when local television stations produced all kinds of unique programming. Every city had its own talk shows and kids shows, weird horror movie hosts and morning news programs. Many people may not realize that Soupy Sales got started as a kids show host in Detroit.

My favorite graphic novelist Seth has mined this earlier golden age of local television for his most recent book George Sprott. This was originally published in serial form in the New York Times where I first read it. Now, he has published it as a book with content that did not make it into the NYT version. I loved it then, and I love it even more now. It is a fascinating story about a complicated character, and the drawings are simply beautiful.

But what is even more interesting is that Seth seems to have based Sprott on a local TV personality. A friend of mine saw me reading the book and said that is must be based on George Pierrot. I really didn't know that there had been this local travel show, but I am so intrigued to know that we once had this kind of programming. Indeed, there seemed to be a rich set of TV personalities in the Motor City once upon a time.

Check out Seth's book to enjoy his take on this earlier era in TV history.

Where the Wild Things Are: Not Just a Book

Where the Wild Things AreWhere the Wild Things Are

The film adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s beloved Where the Wild Things Are will be released in theaters on October 16th. You can catch a sneak preview of the film on October 6th at the Michigan Theater, and tickets go on sale this Thursday, September 10th here and at the LSRS&R Shop on 115 E. Liberty. All proceeds will benefit 826Michigan, who is putting together the screening, which will also feature a post-film Q&A session with Dave Eggers. The week leading up to the screening will also include various Wild Things events around town.

The film is co-written by 826 founder & author Dave Eggers and Spike Jonze, who is also the director. Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers and monsters? Amazing! (Apparently Jonze was approached by Sendak to do the adaptation. Here is an interesting NYT article on Jonze.) The story stars young Max, who is rather mischievous, and after getting into trouble he sets off on an adventure to the land of Wild Things, where one is free to do as he pleases. The film features a blend of live puppetry, actors, and computer animation to bring Max and the monsters to life. Be sure to reread the book before you go!

A boy looked on in wonder.

Jim Lynch has written a magical tale, The Highest Tide about 13 year old Miles O'Malley who spends most of his time exploring the mud flats of Skookumchuck Bay on Puget Sound. Miles makes money by bringing unusual sea creatures to collectors. On one of his midnight forays, he discovers a live giant squid which no one has ever seen before. Amid the ensuing media frenzy and a following from a religious cult, Miles emerges mostly unscathed and still infused with wonder at the natural world around him. A cast of colorful characters including Miles' sex obsessed friend Phelps and Florence, an elderly woman with psychic powers enrich the story.

Lynch's latest book, Border Songs about an eccentric border guard has received rave reviews.

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