Let it Snow!

Snow is on its way, and with it comes plenty of cold-whether fun. From building snowmen to sledding down giant hills, there are lots of great winter activities that can only be done while snow is on the ground. Since the season of snow is almost upon us, I was very excited to stumble upon this book, Snow Play: How to Make Forts & Slides & Winter Campfires, Plus the Coolest Loch Ness Monster and 23 Other Brrrilliant Projects in the Snow by Birgitta Ralston.

If you’re looking for some creative new ways to play in the snow this winter, then this is the book for you. Learn how to make snow ghosts with glowing eyes, marble runs made out of snow, glisten ice charms, and much more. While some of the projects will work great with young children, others require lots of time and special techniques to complete. Fortunately, each project comes with a description of the project’s time frame, difficulty, the type of snow required (fresh, sticky, deep, compressed), the types of tools required, and the number of people needed to complete it.

You Call This Hot, Sonny?

On Wednesday, July 8, 1936, the temperature in Ann Arbor reached 100 degrees. Thursday no relief was in sight so the kids took to the water. By Friday area residents were being felled by the high temperatures. On Saturday, July 11, the weatherman forecast a break in the weather, but he was wrong. The next day temperatures again reached 100. On Tuesday the weatherman again forecast a break in the weather and Wednesday, July 15, relief finally arrived. The two consecutive days of 100+ degrees set a record for Ann Arbor. The high temperature record, however, had been set in July, 1934, 105.2 degrees.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #310

Ann Holt (website) is no stranger to Norwegian crime fiction enthusiasts, but now, she will reach new readers with a series featuring Norwegian retired police inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen.

This cozy series opens with 1222 * (translated by Marlaine Delargy) when Train no. 601 from Oslo to Bergen derails on the icy tracks during a massive blizzard 1,222 meters above sea level. The driver is killed but luckily the 269 passengers survive and find shelter nearby in an once-grand hotel that is virtually empty, except for a small crew of resourceful staff. With an unexpectedly bountiful supply of food and drinks, the passengers settle in agreeably until one after another, someone turns up dead.

Confined to a wheelchair, retired police inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen (with a solidly related backstory) finds herself slowly being coaxed back into her old habits as curiosity and talent for observation force her to take an interest in the passengers and their secrets. Most intriguing is the presence of a mysterious rail car attached to the back of the train and the rumors of the royal family on board.

"A skillful riff on Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, ...Holt creatively combines the classic locked-room murder police procedural and the Scandinavian thriller in this "frigidly good whodunit."

* = starred review

Zoom Zoom Zoom: Watch the Snow Plows Go

Chicago, Schimago. Ann Arbor was first. Track A2 city snowplows as they plow through the streets (when we get snow to plow) at Snow, the new Automatic Vehicle Location web page. Zoom into the city snow route map to see the real-time locations and status of snow plow activity, where the plows are right now and what they are doing. You'll know whether they're salting or plowing and can even find out what kind of truck is being used on any street. So how many miles of plowing are we talking in A2? The city’s street maintenance unit is responsible for snow removal on 358 lane miles of salt route roadway and 10 bridges.

Hooray for fall!!

If you're like me, you can't wait for the Autumnal Equinox on September 23rd to roll around so you can officially say It's Fall! for those that are excited for the cooler weather and changing colors, check out the Michigan.org website for information about the changing colors and where and when to go to get the best view. Also be sure to check our catalog for books about fall/autumn in the aadl.org catalog!

Winter Storm Will Bring Trash Pick-up Delays and Street Plowing Advisories

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In anticipation of the winter storm, the City of Ann Arbor has announced there will be no residential trash or recycling pickups on Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011. The residential trash and recycling pickups will be delayed one day, with the normal Wednesday routes collected on Thursday, the Thursday routes picked up on Friday, and the normal Friday routes picked up on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011.

Ann Arbor residents and commuters are strongly advised to use alternatives to on-street parking from Tuesday afternoon until Friday afternoon in order to allow the snow plows maximum access to clear the streets. Full details of street maintenance procedures and updates are available on the City's web site.

Michigan Weather: Why so crazy?

Many of us who have lived in Michigan for a while know the old saying, "If you don't like the weather, just wait 10 minutes and it will change." But do we know how it all happens, Michigan weather? I know I don't, which is why I'm intrigued by the author event coming up 7:30-9 p.m. Sept. 14 (Tuesday) at U-M Hatcher Library. Paul Gross, author of Extreme Michigan Weather: The Wild World of the Great Lakes State will explain our oppressive heat, harsh snowstorms, and fickle tornadoes. Gross is meteorologist and executive producer of weather at the NBC affiliate WDIV-TV in Detroit, and also consults with Michigan lawyers as a meteorology expert. His book was published by University of Michigan Press.

Overcoming Children's Fears of Thunderstorms

A library patron recently asked me about books for her child who is scared of thunderstorms. If you are in a similar situation with our stormy spring weather, we have several picture books that can help ease the fears of your little one.
My first recommendation has to be Patricia Polacco's Thunder Cake, which tells the story of a girl and her grandmother in a Michigan storm and the tasty way they overcome her fear. There is even a recipe for Thunder Cake included, so you can make your own special treat when a storm rolls in. Franklin And The Thunderstorm is another picture book that demonstrates creative ways to overcome being scared of the weather. The Monster Storm tells the story of a little monster who is afraid of a thunderstorm and goes outside to try and scare it away. Thunder-Boomer! is local author Shutta Crum's tale of a family's experience on a farm in a storm (with great sound effects for reading out loud) and an unexpected visitor. One last recommendation would be Listen To The Raindrops, which tells the story of a father comforting his scared son, and transforming a frightening thunderstorm into a fantasy of sight and sounds. Written by local author Kirk Lignell, this book includes a CD featuring "The Storm Song".
child fearchild fear

You must read Zeitoun!!

If you haven't added Zeitoun by Dave Eggers to your must-read list, please do so immediately. This amazing piece of non-fiction made me laugh, cry, shake with rage, smile with triumph, and recoil in horror and disbelief. For me, it was definitely the best book I have read this year.

After copious research, Eggers shares the story of Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a successful Syrian-born painting contractor, who decided to stay in his New Orleans home during Hurricane Katrina while his wife Kathy and their family fled. Egger's text, simple yet incredibly eloquent, recounts Zeitoun's experiences in such a riveting way, I often forgot that it wasn't Zeitoun himself telling his story. He describes the water filling the city, when the levees first broke, as beautiful and crystal clear, giving everything a surreal, sparkly, otherworldly quality. You, the reader, can easily imagine the scene of him paddling around the city in his canoe, rescuing neighbors and feeding stranded pets. Zeitoun's story takes a horrifying and heart-breaking turn when he is arrested, accused of being a member of Al Qaeda, and thrown into an injust Bush administration/bureaucratic nightmare. The ending of this book kept me up late into the night, unable to go to sleep until I found out what happened to Zeitoun and his frantic family. Out of one family's tragedy does come something positive: Proceeds from the sale of this book go towards supporting the Zeitoun Foundation, formed in 2009 by the Zeitoun family, Dave Eggers, and McSweeney's.

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