Great Lakes, Great Times Reading Series

Great Lakes, Great Times is a monthly reading series that, according to the host, “showcases the best established and up-and-coming writers working today.” The April reading will take place at 826Michigan, and will feature readings from authors Deb Olin Unferth, Jeff Parker, and Kendra Grant Malone.

Check here to see which authors are up next in the series. So many authors are visiting, and these events have been filling the house!

The monthly event is geared towards adults, admission is FREE, and anyone is welcome. It's all happening Saturday, April 24, 7pm at 826michgan/ The Liberty Street Robot Supply & Repair Shop at 115 East Liberty.

Teen vampires...before Twilight?

It's hard to believe, but the incredibly popular vampire "genre" for teens existed before Twilight.

Authors such as L.J. Smith, Christopher Pike, Meredith Ann Pierce, Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, Annette Curtis Klause, and Mary Downing Hahn created vast literature for teens on the subject of vampires before the year 2000. While it is easy to find a score of vampire fiction written today for teens, it is very interesting to take a look back, before the apparent influence of Stephenie Meyer.

That is not to say that these authors haven't gained from the success of Twilight. L.J. Smith's Vampire Diaries series turned to television last year, and her Night World series was recently re-released. Annette Curtis Klause had one of her books made into a movie in 2007.

One of the more inspirational of these authors would be Amelia Atwater-Rhodes. She was first published--in novel form--in 1999 at the tender age of 14. She is still going strong today, too!

So, if you're looking for some good teen vampire fiction, as I know we all must be, take a look at some of their works. I'm not necessarily saying they're better than Twilight, but I might be saying that you can certainly see some eerie similarities.

The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz

If you enjoy Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz, you should check out this incredibly well done graphic novel version.

This book’s writer Eric Shanower is an Eisner Award-winning artist. As a child he adored The Wizard of Oz so much that he constructed Oz pop-ups, created plays for the neighborhood children, and joined the International Wizard of Oz club. As a child the only thing he loved as much as the Wizard of Oz was comic books. This graphic novel represents the combination of his two life-long loves.

Scottie Young illustrated the book and his illustrations are entrancing. The depictions of all the main characters, the Wizard’s hot air balloon, and the Emerald City are wonderfully unique. Some illustrations, such as Dorothy standing in the field in Kansas, are simply beautiful.

This book is a compilation of Marvel’s 8-part comic book series. Young and Shanower are currently working on the Marvelous Land of Oz, another 8-part series being published by Marvel.

Jeffersonian agriculture

Thomas Jefferson born on April 13, in 1743, was not only President, writer of the Declaration of Independence, an inventor, musician and philosopher but also a farmer and naturalist. As the days grow longer and warmer (we hope!), it's good to remember Jefferson's words, "Determine never to be idle." He certainly never was. On his Monticello farm, Jefferson grew 170 varieties of vegetables, plants and flowers. He imported broccoli from Italy, grew Mexican peppers and English peas. In his Garden Book, he kept meticulous notes on when each variety was planted, when the first leaves appeared and which were the most flavorful. Jefferson said that he ate meat as "a condiment for the vegetables, which constitute my principle diet." Perhaps we should follow Jefferson's advice as well as that of a modern proponent of his philosophy, Michael Pollan whose now famous credo, "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants," is part of every foodie's vocabulary.

Teen Stuff: Will Grayson, Will Grayson, by John Green & David Levithan

Will Grayson, Will Grayson is a new book co-authored by two super star young adult fiction authors. The book is alternating chapters, each written by a Will Grayson, as there are two Will Graysons. (John Green writes for one Will, David Levithan writes for the other.) Eventually, after a bizarre turn of events the two Wills’ worlds collide, and after that everything changes.

Will Grayson is a depressed, angst ridden, world-hating teen, with only one half-friend named Maura. He only finds comfort in an online romance. The other Will Grayson follows the philosophy of shutting up and not caring. This gets harder to do as his best friend Tiny Cooper is larger than life, both literally and figuratively. A gregarious and outspoken boy who falls in love with a cute boy every other day, Tiny is quite a breath of fresh air as far as book characters go. He forms a club called the Gay-Straight-Alliance, and is in the midst of putting on a musical at the high school about his life, and of course it’s called “Tiny Dancer.” Oh, I’d like to see this musical!

The characters are honest and interesting, their words and thoughts are engaging and keep the reader turning pages and wanting more. (For grades 9 and up.)

Ann Arbor Conversations with David Sedaris

The fourth installment of Ann Arbor Conversations will be at the Michigan Theater soon, and features author David Sedaris. This new series wishes for audiences to “experience the ultimate in cultural entertainment,” and past evenings in the series featured Kevin Smith, Anthony Bourdain, and Frank Warren.

The last featured guest, David Sedaris, is in the forefront when it comes to contemporary humor writers. Some of the funniest, laugh out loud pieces I’ve ever read are from this man, and though I’m not a huge fan of audio books, I’ll listen to anything Sedaris as written, as he reads his own books in a fabulous fashion. AADL has a slew of Sedaris books needing a reading. If you’re attending this event, have fun!

Wednesday, April 14 | 7:30pm | Michigan Theater

Thumbs Up Teen Book Award

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Vote for your Favorite Teen title of the year; twenty picks make up the Thumbs Up list. From prolific Laurie Halse Anderson, to newcomer, Gayle Forman there’s a title to suit varying tastes. One of the choices is an Edgar Award nominee, The Morgue and Me where a teen spy learns of a murder cover-up through his summer job as an assistant at a morgue. Shaun Tan, in my opinion, sits near the top of this list with Tales from Outer Suburbia fifteen short takes with illustrations as part of the telling. In one story, ‘Eric’ a teeny tiny house guest, who does care, even though he hangs out in the pantry, is memorable. Or, in ‘Alert But Not Alarmed’ missiles are stored in the backyards all around suburbia and over the years become dog kennels, places hollowed out to start seedlings, and always painted a cool color. Check out the complete list of Thumbs Up titles here.

Author Gary Paulsen to visit Ann Arbor

Best-selling author Gary Paulsen will be in Ann Arbor on Monday, April 12. He’ll be signing books at Nicola’s Books from 7-8pm promoting his newest novel, Woods Runner. The well loved author has written many books for both children and adults. Hatchet, Brian’s Winter, and Mudshark are stand-outs. paulsenpaulsen

April is National Poetry Month

"National Poetry Month is a month-long, national celebration of poetry established by the Academy of American Poets. The concept is to widen the attention of individuals and the media—to the art of poetry, to living poets, to our complex poetic heritage, and to poetry books and journals of wide aesthetic range and concern." -

Started in 1996, National Poetry Month is celebrated with posters, events, and inspiration for poets. offers a listing of ways to celebrate, including reading a book of poetry, attending a poetry reading, Googling a poem, and even adding a verse to your e-mail signature.

Here at AADL, we can certainly help with at least the first of these! For starters, you could try some older poets, such as Lord Byron, Edgar Allan Poe, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Walt Whitman, and T.S. Eliot.

For the younger crowd, I would recommend Shel Silverstein, Lewis Carroll, Roald Dahl and perhaps even Dr. Seuss.

For a more contemporary piece, you might try the National Book Award Winner for Poetry in 2009, Transcendental Studies: A Trilogy by Keith Waldrop. We also have the 2008 winner, Fire To Fire: New And Selected Poems by Mark Doty.

As for me, I think I'll celebrate, in closing, with a short poem that I happen to love:

"Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay."
-Robert Frost, "Nothing Gold Can Stay"

Teen Stuff: After Tupac & D Foster, by Jacqueline Woodson

“D Foster showed up a few months before Tupac got shot that first time and left us the summer before he died.” The narrator and her best friend Teeka sit on the front stoop of their Queens apartment building, jumping double dutch and braiding each others hair. One day a girl named D walked around the corner and started talking to them, and it changed the girls' lives forever. They became what they called “Three the Hard Way.” Three best girlfriends, through thick and thin from the ages of 11-13.

Jacqueline Woodson's novel After Tupac & D Foster is told in a retrospective first person through the eyes of the sensitive, quiet and bookish narrator. Through her story we see the differences in the families of the three girls: One a child of foster care, one an only child of a single mother, and one a child in a close-knit family with “too many bothers and sister to count.” The kids on the block, especially D, are fascinated with rapper Tupac Shakur. D identifies with him and some of the words he speaks. Over the short period of time the girls hang out together, they become close, and feel like sisters as they try to figure out their “Big Purpose” in life. Looking back, the narrator talks about the unbreakable bonds of friendship. (For grades 6 and up.)

(Adults: Yes, reading this Newbery Honor book made me want to watch Juice, and then listen to some Tupac albums, and yes I did that.) Thanks, D.

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