John Adams: A Life

Been waiting to see the HBO miniseries John Adams? The library has it on order. The series aired in seven parts and is in three discs on DVD. Check out Volume 1, Volume 2, and Volume 3. Paul Giamatti stars as Adams, one of the founding fathers and the second President of the United States, and Laura Linney plays his wife Abigail. The basis for the series is David McCullough's Pulitzer prize winning biography, John Adams.

On this day in history - Anne Frank & her family found in hiding by Nazis

In the vast sea of books about Holocaust victim Anne Frank and her famous diary, there surfaces a new story to shed more light on the 'real' Anne Frank. My name is Anne, she said, Anne Frank was written by Anne's childhood friend Jacqueline van Maarsen. While the Frank family was forced into hiding, Jacqueline escaped deportation just a few months after her best friend 'had gone to Switzerland', as she had been lead to believe. It was only when the war was over that Anne's father, Otto, revealed the truth and Jacqueline finally discovered what had happened.
For years after Anne's diary was published, the identity of her "best friend" she referred to was secret until van Maarsen owned up. Now she has written about the Anne she knew. This book contains approximately 30% more material from Anne's famous diary than the original 1947 edition, revising our understanding of one of the most moving and eloquent documents of the Holocaust. The Anne we meet here is much more sarcastic, rebellious and vulnerable than the sensitive diarist beloved by millions. Expanded entries provide a fuller picture of the tensions and quarrels among the eight people in hiding. Anne candidly discusses her awakening sexuality in entries that were omitted from the 1947 edition by her father. This translation provides an updated, unvarnished picture of life in the "secret annex".

Creativity Camp Theme of the Week: Famous Artists

From Da Vinci to Warhol kids can check out the back of the new materials shelf in the youth department for lots of cool information on master artists and their masterpieces!

Summer Reading for the Food Obsessed

I'm not much of a "foodie" but I do love to travel and was intrigued by the title Around the world in 80 dinners : the ultimate culinary adventure 50,000 Miles, 10 Countries, 800 Dishes, and 1 Rogue Monkey. In 2005 culinary experts Cheryl and Bill Jamison, known for award winning titles like The big book of outdoor cooking and entertaining, used their giant stash of frequent flier miles to head off on a three month vacation around the globe in search of food and adventure. In March they published this book, offering readers the chance to live vicariously through their journeys in Bali, Australia, New Caledonia, Singapore, Thailand, India, China, South Africa, France and Brazil. This is not a cookbook, although they do provide authentic recipes from their destinations, as well as travel information about hotels, restaurants and points of interest (like the National Elephant Institute in Lampang, Thailand). If you're looking for a literary masterpiece, this is not the book for you - due mainly to the quirky flip-flopping between first and third person narrative. However, if you seek some light, insightful and humorous reading, filled with enthusiasm for food and travel, this will make a great choice for summer.

He wrote "This land is your land..."

Today, July 14 is the birthday of folksinger and songwriter Woody Guthrie who was born in Okemah, Oklahoma in 1912. Guthrie never finished high school and spent his spare time reading books at the local public library. He taught himself guitar with one he found in the street. When the drought hit in Texas in the 1930's causing the same devastation as the Dust Bowl, Woody joined displaced workers who were moving to California and chronicled their struggles in some of his songs including "So Long. It's Been Good to Know Yuh," in which he wrote,:

"A dust storm hit, an it hit like thunder;
It dusted us over, an 'it covered us under;
Blocked out the traffic an' blocked out the sun.
Straight for home all the peole did run,
So long, it's been good to know yuh..."

Guthrie continued writing about people facing hard times. Many of his songs still ring true: "Hard, Ain't It Hard," "This Train is Bound for Glory," Sharecropper Song," and "Someday."

As for justice, he was "Supreme."

Today, July 2, is the birthday of Thurgood Marshall, Supreme Court Justice from 1967 until his death in 1993. Marshall was a champion for justice even from his days as a young lawyer when he sued the University of Maryland for racial discrimination in not admitting a black student as he had not been admitted a few years earlier. He went on to become the legal director of the NAACP where he won the landmark case of Brown Vs. the Board of Education in 1954, legally ending segregation in public schools. Marshall went on to argue and win 14 of the 19 cases he argued before the Supreme Court.

Elvis Fest

Elvis Fest will take place at Riverside Park in Ypsilanti July 11-12. The event will feature tribute performances and impersonators, along with plenty of local food and drink. The library has ample materials about The King, including his films and biographies.

Tim Russert 1950-2008, Fathers, Sons and Daughters

I was truly shocked and heartbroken yesterday when I heard of the death of beloved journalist Tim Russert. Behind his award-winning career, Tim was a devoted family man and the best-selling author of two books which make for great father's day gifts. His memoir Big Russ and Me: father and son: lessons of life (2004) recounts his irish-catholic childhood in Buffalo, New York as the son of Big Russ. After the success of this book, Russert received some 60,000 letters and emails from people describing their own relationships with their fathers - excerpts from which comprise his second book Wisdom of Our Fathers: Lessons and Letters from Daughters and Sons (2006). Although it has the potential to be sappy, this collection of stories is diverse enough to appeal to a wide range of readers. And, as a side note, in 1995, the National Father’s Day Committee named Tim Russert “Father of the Year,” Parents magazine honored him as “Dream Dad” in 1998, and in 2001 the National Fatherhood Initiative also recognized him as Father of the Year. Tim, we will miss you.

Talking & Singing About the Good Old Days

Ann Arbor District Library now has a dozen multi-media Bi-Folkal Kits that provide fine opportunities to remininisce with elders who have done many fascinating things in their lives. The kits work well with large or small groups if you take time to familiarize yourself with the excellent materials provided. You will be rewarded through hearing the rich stories, singing familiar songs and getting to know your group better through this activity. You can include other library materials to enhance your program. Call 734-327-8365 for more information or to reserve a kit.

Climbing the Mango Trees

Photo of Mango Tree

Actor, Cook, Food Writer, Madhur Jaffrey has accomplished a lot during her life (and is still going strong). Her memoir Climbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India bridges it all, giving us a look into growing up in India and, of course, a few recipes to bring India into your own home. Although the book was published in 2006, it is still gaining fans, with a recent mention on Splendid Table. Audio of that interview and an older one from KCRW's Good Food is below with links to the full shows.

Here is the audio of her interview on March 8, 2008 on the Splendid Table. You can listen to the entire show on the Splendid Table archives:

Here is the older October 14, 2006 interview on Good Food:

There's also an excerpt from the book and more interviews on

If all the talk is making you hungry, AADL has plenty of Madhur Jaffrey's books to keep you occupied. There are also some recipes on BBC Food. Here are just a few of the books we have:

A word of warning: some of the older cookbooks were before many of the traditional spices were readily available, so they make substitutions.

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