Happy Birthday Alice Walker!

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Happy Birthday to one of my favorite writers, Alice Walker. Born February 9, 1944, she is best known as the author of The Color Purple, which won her a Pulitzer Prize. A self-proclaimed "womanist", she is politically active in several different areas that often surface in her work: civil rights, the anti-nuclear movement, the environment, the women’s movement, and the movement to protect indigenous peoples. Her fight to end female circumcision in Africa is discussed in Warrior Marks : Female Genital Mutilation and the Sexual Blinding of Women, as well two of her fictional works The Temple of My Familiar and Possessing the Secret of Joy. Walker was the editor of I love myself when I am laughing ... and then again when I am looking mean and impressive : a Zora Neale Hurston reader and was instrumental in bringing Hurston's work back into print. She has published an impressive amount of her own work as well, including novels, short story collections, poetry, children's books, essays, and autobiographical reflections. Click here to watch Alice Walker share a poem she wrote to mark the inauguration of Barack Obama, and to see her speak with legendary 93-year-old civil rights activist and philosopher Grace Lee Boggs.

Happy Birthday Langston Hughes!

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Langston Hughes was born in Joplin, Missouri on February 1, 1902. He traveled all over the world - to Europe, Africa, Mexico, the USSR - but his heart and home were in Harlem, where he was one of the most versatile writers of the artistic movement known as the Harlem Renaissance. Known primarily as a poet, Hughes also wrote plays, essays, novels, short stories, and books for children. Check out the AADL's large collection of Langston Hughes materials and enjoy his rich, vibrant portrayal of black American culture.

With his ebony hands on each ivory key
He made that poor piano moan with melody.
O Blues!
Swaying to and fro on his rickety stool
He played that sad raggy tune like a musical fool.
Sweet Blues!
Coming from a black man's soul.
O Blues!
- from "The Weary Blues", Langston Hughes, 1926

'Rabbit' is dead: John Updike, age 76, succumbs to lung cancer

The Associated Press reports that John Updike, the American novelist, poet and critic, died today, according to a statement released by his publisher. He was the author of more than 60 books, for decades a frequent contributor to the New Yorker, and a winner of the Pulitzer Prize

Inauguration Day - Past and Present

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Since George Washington's inauguration in 1789, the transfer of presidential power has become an American tradition. If the upcoming festivities have you curious about this time-honored ceremony, check out Presidential inaugurations for a light, yet concise, history of each president and their beginnings. (This book is great for fans of presidential trivia) The upcoming inauguration of Barack Obama, the 44th president, will commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln with the theme "A New Birth of Freedom". For related historical information check out Lincoln's greatest speech : the second inaugural from the AADL's collection. Visit Barack Obama's official inauguration website if you seek more information about Tuesday's upcoming events. If you find yourself wanting to relive history, Bartleby.com has the full text of ALL Inaugural Addresses of the Presidents of the United States from George Washington to George W. Bush. "And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country."

January Movies

Bio pic Defiance is based on the true story of the Bielski brothers. After fleeing occupied Poland, they holed up in a forest in Belarus where they managed against terrific odds to create a coherent community which continued to fight the Nazis. Read Nechama Tec's Defiance: The Bielski Partisans (1993).

There is still time to catch the Golden Globes Award for Best Picture of the Year Slumdog Millionaire.

Part Dickensian drama, part romance and part life-affirming fantasy, this indie release follows an 18-year-old orphan as he recalls the experiences that took him from the slums of Mumbai to being just one question away from winning India’s version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” --- all for the love of a girl.

The Spirit is adapted from the graphic novels The Spirit Series by Will Eisner.

It tells the story of a rookie cop who comes back from the dead to protect the city he loves and the many women he loves more.

To Build an Igloo

With some of the winter storms that have gone through the area this season you could almost mistake the view outside as an arctic landscape. One thing that may be missing is the traditional shelter of an igloo. Luckily this Canadian documentary will show you how one is built.

Will the real Anne Boleyn please stand up?

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I recently watched the movie The Other Boleyn Girl, based on the novel about the ill-fated relationship of King Henry VIII and his second wife Anne Boleyn, and was disappointed in the lack of historical accuracy. Seeking the truth behind the Hollywood version, I started looking for the story of the "real" Anne Boleyn and was quickly overwhelmed by the numerous conflicting accounts of this infamous woman. After some sleuthing, I've discovered two authors/Tudors scholars with reputable accounts of her life. Alison Weir is a fantastic author to start with if you seek information about Tudor history. Check out her book The six wives of Henry VIII for information on all of of the monarch's wives, including Anne Boleyn. Another well-respected British historian to check out is Eric William Ives. Try his book The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn for a well-researched, well-written account of this controversial figure. For those of you who prefer the steamier Hollywood adult version of Tudor history, the AADL has Season One of the Showtime series The Tudors on dvd.

Something About The Author Online is here!

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Not just for Children's Lit. students! AADL has recently added the Something About The Author Online database, a product from Gale Cengage Learning. This valuable resource compiles biographical profiles of authors and illustrators of books for kids and teens from the over 200 volume print set. Each profile includes information regarding the individual's personal life, contact details, career highlights, complete bibliography, and works in progress. Samples of illustrations are also included. You will find citations for other biographical and critical sources. Also included are all profiles from the Autobiography series of Something About The Author, providing rare first-person perspective about the author's career and works.

You can search this database by author, illustrator, title, or keyword, as well as combine terms and browse a complete list of included individuals.

This is one-stop shopping for info about your favorite author for kids or teens!

Anne Rice's spiritual confession

Anne Rice wrote books about vampires long before Stephenie Meyer but in her Called Out of Darkness, a Spiritual Confession, Rice repudiates her vampires and vows to write only on religious themes, most particularly Catholic themes.

The book is interesting for her memories of a Catholic girlhood in New Orleans, her embracing of atheism as a college student and finally her “reconversion” in her early fifties. Although sometimes overwritten, it still stands as the progress of a mind in conflict. Readers of books such as Interview with a Vampire, will find the confession interesting as Rice now sees her fascination with vampires as an attempt to contact the spiritual realm. The reader can judge for him/herself whether she succeeds in her latest endeavors.

The Man Who Invented Christmas

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When Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in 1843, he changed the way the holiday is celebrated, revived his career, and created a tale that has become one of the most popular and enduring Christmas stories of all time. Tomorrow, December 19th, is the anniversary of the original publication of "A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost Story of Christmas". Here at the AADL you can pick up a copy of Les Standiford's new book The Man Who Invented Christmas : How Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits for a behind the scenes look at the holiday classic. Standiford says his title is "a bit of an exaggeration — but not much." Happy Holidays!

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