The Great Pumpkin Says Let's Be Safe This Halloween

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Trick-or-Treating in Ann Arbor will be from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. this Sunday, Oct. 31. So let's review our Halloween Safety Tips and get our little ghosts and goblins home safe, sound and oh-so happy. Don't forget the extra-special Halloween Story Times this Friday at the Downtown Branch.

Children's Book Garnering Rave Reviews

Melody is a brilliant, funny, and stubborn 11-year-old who is restricted to a wheelchair by severe cerebral palsy. She can’t walk, move, or speak on her own. Doctors, teachers, and even her parents can’t determine how much Melody really knows or can learn. But Melody knows. She has been absorbing words, language, ideas, and knowledge her entire life, with the help of neighbor, Mrs. V, and her family.

Fifth grade provides an opportunity to leave the special education classroom for part of each day for some inclusion classes, where Melody hopes to make new friends and the Quiz Bowl team. She has high hopes that her new Medi-Talker computer device will give her thoughts a voice, and allow her to finally communicate with those around her. But fear, prejudice, and misunderstanding creep in as teachers and fellow students question her intellect and continue to isolate her. Yet, Melody perseveres.

Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper, is fiction recommended for grades 4-6. Draper's novel has received the trifecta of starred reviews from School Library Journal, Booklist, and Kirkus. Check the AADL catalog for the book’s availability, and feel the heartbreak, as well as the limitless capacity, of the human spirit.

Cyber-Safety Series -- Social Network Safety

Brian Solis Online by b_d_solisBrian Solis Online by b_d_solis

An ever-increasing number of people use social networks – Facebook for example boasts an impressive 60 million active users and 250,000 new registrations per day. As people integrate the internet and their social lives however, many are finding their personal lives become a little too public. Here are some tips and resources to help you keep your private life private on your favorite social networks.

1. Use a good password – A weak password (like ‘password’ for instance) is an invitation for someone to hack into your profile.

2. Don’t friend people you don’t actually know.

3. Check your privacy settings – Make sure you know exactly who can see what on your profile. You may be exposing more than you want to.
Facebook privacy tutorial.
MySpace safety page.

4. Don’t overexpose, literally or figuratively – Don’t display your full birthday, address, phone number or e-mail on your profile. Don’t say that you will be away from home, especially if you are on an extended vacation. Don’t post photos of yourself that you wouldn’t want to be seen by complete strangers. Don’t post anything that you wouldn’t say in front of a potential employer, because they may be watching.

5. Talk to your children about social network safety!

6. Read all about it.
Guides to the social web:
The Rough Guide to MySpace and Online Communities
MySpace for Dummies
Social Networking Spaces

Background on the issues:
Online Social Networking.
The Future of Reputation

For kids:
The Smart Kid’s Guide to Social Networking Online.

The Search for WondLa

Fiery explosions rip through the chambers of her underground home, forcing Eva Nine to escape through a ventilation shaft and begin her search for other living humans. Why doesn't her Omnipod recognize any of the plant or animal life on the surface? Who (or what) is chasing her, and why? Is Eva's robot Muthr okay?

The Search For WondLa hovers on the edge of steampunk and alien odyssey. Tony DiTerlizzi, author of The Spiderwick Chronicles, brings us into the richly imagined world of Orbona, a world that in many ways pays homage to the land of Oz. The quirky cast of characters picked up along the way during Eva's quest, the beautifully illustrated pages, and the "girl in a strange land" formula can all be seen in L. Frank Baum's famous Land of Oz series, the first books of which were written over a century ago.

DiTerlizzi has garnered some hot buzz for The Search for WondLa. In addition to being a great read, it is the first book of a planned trilogy, and rumour has it that there is already a film deal in the works. See it here first!

Hoist up the John B’s Sail

Sloop John B: A Pirate’s Tale, by Alan Jardine is a kid friendly book adaptation of the Beach Boys’ song “Sloop John B,” from the classic Pet Sounds album. The picture book is written by an original Beach Boy member, and features a young boy and his grandfather on a pirate’s adventure. Read the wonderfully illustrated book, listen to the new song version on the CD that comes with it, and get in a pirate mood.

60 Year Anniversary of the First Peanuts Comic Strip!

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On October 2nd 1950, after many rejections, the first Peanuts comic strip was published in 7 newspapers. Just 2 years later the first Peanuts book was published. Over the years, the Peanuts have appeared on the New York Times Best Seller List with Happiness is a Warm Puppy. I personally always loved that book in particular. It takes you through a number of simple things that make people happy and reminds me of reading it at my grandmas house when I was little. The Peanuts were on the cover of Time Magazine in 1965. That same year, Charles Schulz even won an Emmy for outstanding children's programming for A Charlie Brown Christmas. In later years, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, You're a Good Sport Charlie Brown and Life is a Circus, Charlie Brown. By 1999, before his retirement, more than 2,600 newspapers worldwide were publishing the Peanuts. On February 12, 2000, the day before the final Sunday Peanuts comic strip ran, Charles Schulz died at the age of 77. New Peanuts strips are not being made however, many of these loved classics can be found here at the library. The library also offers a number of Peanuts DVD's such as: It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, A Charlie Brown Valentine, This is America, Charlie Brown and many more. Be sure to place holds early for the holiday books and DVDs because they lists grow quickly! I'm happy to see that even after 60 years people still love the Good Ol' Charlie Brown and the Gang!

Take Part in Art -- Self-Portraiture

charcoal sketch by freeparkingcharcoal sketch by freeparking
Making a self-portrait is almost a psychological exercise -- a way to examine questions of identity, do some introspection into yourself, and think about how you present yourself to the world. It is also an opportunity to be creative and have fun! To explore self-portraiture, you can always come and check out our Youth Art Table downtown, or follow along at home:

Two excellent books on self-portraiture are Just Like Me and Bob Raczka's Here's Looking at Me. To learn more about one of the most prolific self-portrait artists, read Frida Kahlo: The Artist in the Blue House. Grown-ups who want to learn more might be interested in Frances Borzello's Seeing Ourselves: Women's Self-Portraits.

Making your own self-portrait is amazingly easy. You can use any medium and any style -- all you need is some paper and a mirror. The fun part is deciding how you want to look. You can draw yourself with a pet, with a friend, taking part in your favorite hobby, wearing a costume...or any other way you like! For ideas about how to make different kinds of self portraits, check out the projects on this page by Incredible Art. Grown-ups who want to make self-portraits can check out Mixed Media Self-Portraits by Cate Prato.

Literacy Series -- Nature Literacy

NatureLiterateNatureLiterate
Naturalistic Intelligence is the most recently identified of Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences. A rather under-appreciated form of intelligence in our technological modern world, Naturalistic Intelligence consists of the ability to recognize patterns, relationships and categories in nature, essentially, the ability to “read” nature and be “nature literate.”

Today, we tend to live farther and farther from nature, although research suggests that access to nature, and even dirt itself may be vital to human health and happiness. Few would argue that nature is essential to human survival -- and we need nature literate people to give us more balanced ways of living on earth.

So what can you do to foster nature literacy? Here are some easy (and fun!) suggestions:

1. Visit a natural history museum: U of M’s Exhibit Museum of Natural History is a great local resource – and guess what? We have a Museum Adventure Pass!

2. Go on a nature walk: Ann Arbor has many excellent parks available for this purpose – Matthei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum for example. And look! We have a Museum Adventure Pass for them. Also, if you act fast, you can take a hike at Greenview Park with us on September 13th.

3. Feed the birds: What better way to observe wildlife than in the comfort of your own backyard? Check out The Bird Lover's Ultimate How-To Guide for some bird feeding and watching tips. To see more birds, and other types of wildlife, too, check out the Howell Nature Center. Oh yeah, and we have a Museum Adventure Pass for them, too.

4. Read about famous naturalists: Like Jane Goodall, George Washington Carver, Rachel Carson, John Muir and Charles Darwin, to name a few.

5. Explore nature yourself!
Try these books for tips:
Hands on Nature
Sharing Nature With Children
Teaching Kids to Love the Earth

The Odious Ogre

The creators of the long-loved classic The Phantom Tollbooth have gotten back together after an almost 50-year span apart to create a new picture book, the Odious Ogre. Written by Norton Juster and illustrated by Jules Feiffer, the new book is perhaps simpler, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's only for younger children.

In a NPR interview, Feiffer stated, "I wanted to do the biggest, meanest, filthiest ogre in the history of ogreship — and one who could barely fit on the page. And he does barely fit on the page."

In the same interview, Juster comments on the story itself: "The story means what it means to you. That's the way I look at all these stories. There's no one moral, unless you want to make one for yourself."

To see excerpts, visit NPR.

Take Part in Art -- Super Cool Stamp Art

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Printing has been around since about the year 200AD, and was in use for centuries in the Middle East, Europe and Asia -- especially Japan -- before spreading around the world. Printmaking is still alive and well today, and many artists use a variety of printing techniques to create unique and beautiful works of art.

If you want to try your hand at printing at home with your kids, the most convenient method is the humble rubber stamp. If you happen to have some rubber stamps lying around the house from your scrap-booking projects, it is time to take them out! Try combining the images to make a story. What patterns can your child make with the stamps? Can your child combine stamping and drawing to make a picture? For more rubber stamp ideas, read Cool Rubber Stamp Art by Pamela Price.

Of course, if you have no stamps at all, fear not. TLC Family and Kinderart have plenty of suggestions for making your own stamps and printing blocks. For more ideas read Joe Rhatigan's Stamp It!, The Usborne Book of Printing and Printing by Michelle Powell.

For any grown-ups who want to try printmaking and stamp art, try The Instant Print Maker by Melvyn Petterson, Creative Stamping by Sherrill Kahn, and, for some history, The Woman Who Discovered Printing by Timothy Barrett.

Also, if you act fast, you can see some cool prints at the University of Michigan Museum of Art's exhibit Sister Corita: The Joyous Revolutionary. Admission is free!

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