Maps for All Ages to Enjoy

Not your average geography book, Maps by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski is a beautiful book with amazing illustrations. The full page maps include images of cultural and historical interest in addition to famous natives and specific places within each country. It’s such a visual treat! This large book is great for anyone who is into maps, places, illustration, or design, and would be a great coffee table book when it's not on a child's bookshelf. The other titles by the same author are also beautiful.

Wild Swan Theater: Under the African Sky

Mark your calendar for Wednesday, Feb. 12 at 1 pm, when Wild Swan Theater presents Under the African Sky in Towsley Auditorium. The other three performances already are sold out. The play is a humorous collection of well- known African tales including Why the Sky is Far Away, The Talking Vegetables and Tug-of-Vine. Performers will use acting, storytelling, and drumming, with instruments including a balaphone, a djembe, and a talking drum. The show is for children age 4 to third grade and there will be plenty of chances for audience participation.

Pope Francis, the first Pope from the Americas, is Time Magazine's Person of the Year

Pope Francis, one of the Catholic Church's most popular pope's, was named Time Magazine's Person of the Year this morning on NBC's Today Show..

Pope Francis, born Jorge Mario Bergoglio in Argentina almost 77 years ago (December 17th is the Pontiff's birthday), was elected Bishop of Rome and absolute sovereign of Vatican City on March 13th of this year. He is a Pope of many firsts, including he is the first Jesuit priest to become a Pope and the first one born in the Americas.

In his nine short months as the 266th Pope (the anti-Popes are excluded), he has rocked the globe with his humility and his rejection of the opulent trappings of the papacy (from garments to living quarters to transportation). But it his public walking of the talk of the Gospels that has galvanized peoples of all faiths and nationalities. Pope Francis focuses a light on the need to help the poor, feed the hunger, and heal the sick through social action. He urges the Church to be pragmatic in its priorities -- he views the intense focus on gay marriage, abortion, and the "tyranny of unfettered capitalism" as impediments to the important work that needs to be done to restore compassion worldwide and renewed efforts to bridge differences that block the way to world peace.

Social media went into overdrive this summer when it was reported that Pope Francis said even atheists can go to heaven. That's not exactly what he said in response to an open letter written by a well-respected atheist and published in La Repubblica. This translation gets close to the heart of the matter: "First of all, you ask if the God of the Christians forgives those who do not believe and do not seek faith. Given that—and this is fundamental—God's mercy has no limits if he who asks for mercy does so in contrition and with a sincere heart -- the issue for those who do not believe in God is in obeying their own conscience."

Pope Francis has enchanted the world by his embrace of social media. In addition to being a presence on Facebook, the Pope can be found on Twitter at @Pontifex. At last count, he was up to 3,349,929 followers.

To learn more about his approach to life and religion, read his latest book, published earlier this year -- On Heaven and Earth: Pope Francis on Faith, Family, and the Church in the 21st Century.

The Flat

The Flat is an autobiographical documentary centered around family and mystery. When Arnon Goldfinger’s grandmother passes away, her Tel Aviv flat needs to be cleaned out. As family gathers to sort through decades of memories, questions arise. Searching for answers, Arnon turns to his mother, but she is unable to provide adequate information, explaining that her parents did not willingly offer information and she did not ask. The most troublesome discovery is that when Arnon’s Jewish grandparents moved from Germany to Tel Aviv at the beginning of World War II, they maintained friendships with members of the Nazi party. After the war was over they even visited one another and continued a steady correspondence. Stunned, Arnon is sent on a scavenger hunt to discover just how a relationship between two such groups could survive, surrounded by war and atrocities.

Another less pressing question, but equally fascinating, is why Goldfinger’s grandparents were so reluctant to leave Germany and why his great grandmother refused to leave at all. These individuals had such a connection to their home country that even with the threat of discrimination and death, they did not want to abandon it. If you are more interested in this concept, you should check out Bound Upon a Wheel of Fire: Why so many German Jews made the tragic decision to remain in Nazi Germany.

The Flat is poignant and honest. Some people who are shown in the film wrestle with what they discover about their relatives while others walk away with more questions that will most likely never be answered. This is a great film to spark conversation.

World War II Veterans Tell Fascinating Stories

On Nov. 11, Veterans Day, an Ann Arborite walked into the library and told me about a project she started in the 1980s -- working with about a dozen World War II veterans to record service memories. She produced printed manuscripts -- at no cost to veterans -- to share with their families. One result of her project is that three transcripts are now accessible on her blog, "World War Two Remembered: Veteran Memoirs from World War Two." The blog honors the memory of her father and his father, both veterans, in addition to the men she worked with. "Some of them became good friends, and I miss them," she writes. All her life she has been interested in World War II, particularly the North Africa campaign.

Amazon Teen Bestseller: I Am Malala

Check out I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, which currently is #7 (hardcover) and #12 (Kindle edition) on Amazon's list of Best Sellers in Teen & Young Adult Books. The book is by Malala Yousafzai with help from Christina Lamb. From Amazon: "When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education. On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive . . . "

Happy Polish American Heritage Month!

Cześć!

Celebrate Polish American Heritage Month (ongoing throughout October) at the AADL! This annual event was first started in 1981 and celebrates Polish history, culture and pride, as well as the many achievements of Polish Americans. Whether or not you have Polish heritage, participating in Polish American Heritage Month is fun and easy. Listen to traditional Polish fiddle music by the Karol Stoch Band and try your hand at some Polish recipes. Kids may enjoy hearing ancient Polish fables and folktales read aloud to them, too.

The library also has many books written in Polish in our World section, as well as books and CDs to help you learn and master the Polish language, whether you are an interested beginner or an out-of-practice native speaker. Try Colloquial Polish: the complete course for beginners, or Mastering Polish with 2 audio CDs, which also comes with a Polish-English dictionary.

For information about Polish history in Michigan, read about the first Polish people to settle in Detroit in Detroit’s Polenia, by Cecile Wendt Jensen. You can also learn about the contributions Polish people have made to Michigan culture and about the attraction that many Polish people feel to our state in Poles in Michigan, by Dennis Badaczewski.

Happy Polish American Heritage Month, and Miłego dnia!

Samantha Brown's Asia

If you are like me and cannot get away to far away destinations but enjoy learning about them, you may enjoy watching travel shows. A few years ago I discovered Samantha Brown’s travel program on the Travel Channel and her show quickly became my favorite. She has a bubbly personality that wins people over no matter where she goes. This is proven every time she randomly approaches a stranger and makes a joke or asks them a question. She seems fearless, but she has the charm to make anyone feel at ease, including the viewer.

The library has recently added Samantha Brown’s Asia disc 1 and disc 2 to our collection. In these two DVDs Brown takes us on a tour of Thailand, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, and Bali. Meeting up with natives who then show her around their home, Brown provides viewers with practical advice and insight into the individually unique cultures of these different locations.

If you breeze through these two discs and want more, AADL does own quite a few Anthony Bourdain DVDs that will keep you occupied for a while.

Margaret Thatcher, England's first woman prime minister, has died

Margaret Thatcher, known as The Iron Lady, for her tough conservative policies implemented during her tenure as Prime Minister of England from 1979 to 1990, has died.

First elected to the House of Parliament in 1959, after years as a tax and patent law barrister, Thatcher's political career as a powerful, extremely conservative Tory leader, led to her election as Prime Minister in 1979. Determined to get Great Britain out of its economic doldrums through her focused steely will (hence the Iron Lady moniker), she used privatization (of Rolls Royce and British Telecom), deregulation, free trade, tax cuts for the rich, and attacks on the unions to push through her policies.

Her popularity was revitalized with the UK's participation in the 1982 Falkland Islands War, as described by Max Hastings and Simon Jenkins in their 1983 book, The Battle for the Falklands. This 74-day conflict with Argentina was a successful naval operation.

Thatcher's friendship with President Ronald Reagan was legendary, as they worked together to transform their nations in their shared vision. One of the books she wrote, Statecraft: Strategies for a Changing World, 2002, was dedicated to Reagan.

In her memoir, The Downing Street Years, 1993, Thatcher wrote about her defeat (after three unprecedented terms as Prime Minister) in 1990 to the more moderate conservative beliefs of her successor, John Major.

Baroness Thatcher, who had suffered from dementia for many years, died from a stroke this morning. She was 87.

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