ages 11-18

Meet “It’s All Write!” Judge # 7: Jeff Hirsch

Jeff Hirsch has always loved to write, and even attended writing summer camps growing up as a teen in Virginia. He then pursued his interest in theater, and graduated from the University of California, San Diego for playwriting. After becoming inspired by distinguished teen authors, Hirsch found his writing niche.

Hirsch is well known for his first novel, The Eleventh Plague. Readers can preview the first three chapters of his newest release, The Darkest Path, and should keep an eye out for Black River in 2015.

Jeff Hirsch loves to hear from his readers and is a fan of Prince and Tom Waits. Last year, AADL featured his wife, Gertie Hirsch, in a retro sewing program. To learn more about Jeff Hirsch, visit his website.

Stay tuned for the rest of the “It’s All Write!” judges in forthcoming blog posts!

Winter is on its way out, but Season 4 of Game of Thrones is coming!

Many of us are eagerly awaiting the start of season four of Game of Thrones, which begins on Sunday, April 6th on HBO. The AADL has the first three seasons of the show on DVD and Blu-Ray, but we also have a large selection of other Game of Thrones-related materials that fans may be interested in. The show was inspired by and is strictly based on the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin. The library has all five of the currently published books available. Martin has said that he may publish the sixth installment of the series, The Winds of Winter, in 2015. Even if you’ve already seen the show, reading the books is a cool way to find out more details and clear up any confusion.

The AADL also has graphic novel adaptations of Game of Thrones. These are fast-paced and colorful reads that fans will surely enjoy. There are also unique books about the Game of Thrones fantasy world and the show in our collection. The Wit and Wisdom of Tyrion Lannister collects a number of the hilarious and witty quotes said by one of the most popular characters into a fun book. The Unofficial Game of Thrones cookbook: from direwolf ale to auroch stew—more than 150 recipes from Westeros and beyond has appetizers, side dishes, main courses and desserts, all inspired by meals or situations from Game of Thrones. We also have the official companion to the HBO show, Inside HBO’s Game of Thrones. It is filled with hundreds of photos of the set, actors, and props from the show. Finally, an extremely helpful book is The Lands of Ice and Fire: maps from King’s Landing to across the Narrow Sea, a collection of maps and diagrams that show the world described by Martin in his books and shown to viewers on the show. As fans know, keeping the many settings of Game of Thrones straight can be a challenge; this book can help those who are struggling better visualize the continents of Westeros and Essos

Creepy, Brilliant Teen Science Fiction: "Unwind," by Neal Shusterman

Unwind by Neal Shusterman is a wildly imaginative dystopic tale published in 2007, yes, even before Hunger Games burst on the scene. Shusterman's believable, terrifying science-fiction thriller is based on a fictional future law which allows parents of children age 13 to 18 to have their teens "unwound," with al their organs transplanted into different people. Oh my. As a result of this law, the main characters in the novel -- Connor, Risa and Lev -- are running for their lives in a world gone mad. The story contains several nightmarish medical scenes that may keep you up at night, worrying about the future of the characters and/or of America. But overall, I found this to be an entirely engaging, exciting book that once begun, could not be put down. When it was published, the novel was well received and earned this starred review from Publishers Weekly: "...Gripping, brilliantly imagined futuristic thriller . . . could hardly be more engrossing or better aimed to teens." The [www.ala.org|American Library Association] named the novel a Best Book for Young Adults and a Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers. After reading this book, I'm eager to read the next two books in the Unwind dystology -- UnWholly, published in 2012, and UnSouled, which came out last year.

Meet “It’s All Write!” Judge #6: Bill Konigsberg

Bill Konigsberg has a long history in writing prior to authoring teen novels. As an avid sports fan, Konigsberg covered the New York Mets and other teams as a sports writer and editor for the Associated Press and ESPN.com. He also contributed a fantasy baseball column to several newspapers countrywide. Since writing his award-winning article in 2001, Konigsberg has been a strong advocate for homosexual awareness in sports.

In addition to his debut teen novel, Out of the Pocket, Konigsberg published Openly Straight in May 2013. Openly Straight, featuring a student looking to shed gay labels and stereotypes, was listed on YALSA’s 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults list and was recently awarded the Sid Fleischman Award for Humor.

To learn more about Bill Konigsberg, visit his website and blog.

Stay tuned for the rest of the “It’s All Write!” judges in forthcoming blog posts!

Reminder to all “It’s All Write!” participants: The deadline to submit your story is today, March14! Submissions will be accepted until midnight. Please make sure you have followed the guidelines, and happy (last-minute) writing!

Only ONE WEEK left to submit a story to “It’s All Write!”

The “It’s All Write!” Teen Short Story Contest has already received over 90 submissions, and we are excited to see even more arrive in the next week! If you’re thinking about entering the contest, you still have time to send a story before Friday, March 14, which is one week from today!

Maybe you’ve already written a story, but it needs some editing. The Writing Tips for Teens list features AADL materials focused on story details, grammar tips, and how to get published.

Or maybe you've written five stories and can't decide which one to submit. Consider publishing your other work online! Check out the “It’s All Write!” Writing Resources page. Magazines like Teen Ink and Polyphony H.S. encourage teens to get involved in writing and editing.

If you have questions about the contest, feel free to email Kayla at allwrite@aadl.org or call the Downtown Youth Desk at 734-327-8301.

Stay tuned for future “meet the judge” blog posts, and happy writing!

Cooking on a Budget

For those of us on a budget, making tasty, healthy meals on a regular basis can be a challenge. Good ingredients can be expensive and the most delicious recipes are often complex and call for a number of pricey items. Here at AADL we have a number of budget-friendly cookbooks that can help you eat well while not breaking the bank. Budget Bytes: over 100 delicious recipes to slash your grocery bill in half is a brand new cookbook by the creater of the hugely popular Budget Bytes blog. Caroline Wright’s Twenty-Dollar, Twenty-Minute Meals: for four people is a great cookbook for those hoping to feed small families. Her book includes healthy, tasty recipes in all forms including vegetarian and vegan recipes, pizzas and desserts.

Student cookbooks can also be a great way to find easy, inexpensive recipes. We have The Ultimate Student Cookbook, the Student’s Vegetarian Cookbook and the Student’s Go Vegan Cookbook and Young and Hungry: making the most of fresh and affordable food, as well as several others.

There are also some wonderful cookbooks in our collection for those intending to eat locally and seasonally while also remaining on a budget. Frugal Luxuries by the Seasons: celebrate the holidays with elegance and simplicity on any income is a lovely book that uses seasonally-appropriate, inexpensive recipes. There is also The Locavore’s Handbook: the busy person’s guide to eating local on a budget, which offers practical advice for using local food in easy recipes. This book is especially useful for those of us in Michigan, since author Leda Meredith’s advice is geared towards those living in colder climates!

Meet “It’s All Write!” Judge #5: Catherine Knutsson

Catherine Knutsson published her first novel, Shadows Cast by Stars, in 2012. Shadows Cast by Stars was a finalist for both the Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy and the Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature.

Knutsson proudly celebrates her Métis heritage, which is reflected in her writing. She also loves working with horses, photography, and singing in her free time. When asked for her best advice to new writers, she told Simon & Schuster, “Ignore trends; write the story in your heart, the story that only you can tell!”

To learn more about Catherine Knutsson, you can check out her website or her blog.

Stay tuned for the rest of the “It’s All Write!” judges in forthcoming blog posts!

A "Dystology": the Unwind series

I have to start this entry with a shout out to the kid at Mallett's Creek who informed me that this was, in fact, a series. (I was pretty excited.) Thanks, kid, wherever you are. *high five* I'm passing on your knowledge.

For fans of dystopian novels, if you haven't checked this out, it might be a good fit for you. The first book, Unwind, was written as a self-contained story that was satisfying within itself, but the sequels do not disappoint. It's a disturbingly unique take on the dystopian genre that's been taking over the world lately.

The series follows several different teens through their struggle to survive in a world of extremes. With a devastating moral war behind them, abortion has become illegal for any reason, but in the law's wake comes a startling counter-measure: teens who are unruly or unwanted can be "unwound", put into in a "divided state" with all of their parts going to other individuals in need. Parents get to decide their children's fate.

Connor, Risa and Lev have all been signed over to be unwound. But will they make it through? And at what cost? As the series goes along, author Neal Shusterman explores the some serious morals and ethics as well as what makes a human being human and individual.

Sadly, we'll all have to wait to find out how things end, because the conclusion to the series, Undivided, is not due out until this summer. But with the demand on this series already, surely the AADL is on the watch for it!

Gravity: Visually Stunning, Prize Winning Film

For an entertaining 90-minute break from Earth, check out the movie Gravity, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. "Houston" down below is the voice of Ed Harris. Space is depicted as a very dangerous place -- a New York Times reviewer called this film a "Jack London tale in orbit."
Last night the film won seven (7!) Academy Awards, including best director, best cinematography, and best visual effects.
In the film, Sandra Bullock plays Ryan Stone, a star scientist and mother who has lost her young daughter. George Clooney is a seasoned astronaut. Following an accident, the two are stranded in space, facing daunting challenges such as trying to avoid a lethal storm of debris.
Alfonso Cuaron wrote the script with his son Jonás. Cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki is beyond fabulous. State-of- the- art special effects, both analog and digital, made me feel like I was, yes, floating in space.
Rating is PG 13. Currently at AADL there are 680 requests on 40 copies of the DVD and 437 requests on 30 copies of the Blu-ray. Place your order now!

Now Available Through AADL: 20 Knitting Patterns to Make Your Favorite Mochimochi Land pals!

Mochimochi Land was launched in 2007 as a place where knitted toys and people can live together in a spirit of tolerance. Now, thanks to a partnership between Mochimochi Land and AADL you can access a collection of delightful knitting patterns to create your own friends!

AADL is overjoyed to partner with Anna Hrachovec, to offer 20 DRM-free Downloads of Mochimochi Land Knitting Patterns to all AADL Cardholders. All you need is to have an AADL library card. Then, login with your linked AADL online account, and all of these patterns are yours for the knitting!

The characters that inhabit Mochimochi Land are original designs by Anna Hrachovec, a knitter who lives in Chicago. Anna finds inspiration in Hello Kitty, Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, and illustrators like Dr. Seuss and Mary Blair. Anna’s knitted toys have been featured on The Martha Stewart Show, all around the web, and in print.

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