ages 11-18

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #487 - “There are two ways of seeing: with the body and with the soul. The body's sight can sometimes forget, but the soul remembers forever.” ~ Alexandre Dumas

In What is Visible *, debut novelist Kimberly Elkins presents a "wonderfully imaginative and scrupulously researched" fictional memoir of the life and challenges of Laura Bridgman, the first deaf and blind woman to learn language, some fifty years before Helen Keller. Though she was an internationally renowned figure in the mid-19th century, Laura has been all but forgotten by history.

At age 2, Laura lost her sight, hearing, and the ability to taste and smell from scarlet fever. At age 7, she was taken from her family home in Hanover, New Hampshire by Dr. Samuel Howe, founder of the Perkins Institute in Boston, and taught to communicate via hand spelling. Laura soon became celebrated figure attracting hundreds to exhibitions at the Institution, including a visit by Charles Dickens and Dorothea Dix. But Laura suffered greatly when Dr. Howe married and began a family of his own.

"Told in alternating chapters by Laura, Howe, his poet wife Julia, and Laura's beloved teacher Sarah Wight, this is a complex, multilayered portrait of a woman who longed to communicate and to love and be loved. Elkins fully captures her difficult nature and her relentless pursuit of connection."

Blind * * *, a YA debut by Ann Arbor native (Community High) and Alex Award winner (Big Girl Small) Rachel DeWoskin is "one of those rare books that utterly absorbs the reader into the life and experience of another."

When 14 yr. old Emma Sasha Silver loses her eyesight in a freak accident, she must relearn everything from walking across the street to learning to decipher braille. After a year at the Briarly School for the Blind, she is finally able to return home. But just as she is able to start high school and try to recover her friendships and former life, one of her classmates is found dead in an apparent suicide.

"DeWoskin...skillfully balances the pain of loss with the promise of new experiences and discovery.... The life of a formerly sighted teen blossoms in Emma's strong voice as she explores the world, conquers fears, and attempts living everyday life again with her large, bustling, Jewish suburban family. A gracefully written, memorable, and enlightening novel. "

”A vivid, sensory tour of the shifting landscapes of blindness and teen relationships."

* = starred review
* * * = 3 starred reviews

Texts from Jane Eyre

In the hilarious new book Texts from Jane Eyre, and Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Chracters, readers get to see goofy, imagined text conversations involving characters from many well-known books. This fun book is a quick read, and definitely offers some hearty chuckles by placing centuries-old characters in the modern day. I was especially pleased by how well the author, Mallory Ortberg, takes the often-humorous neuroses of these characters and accurately imagines how they would come through via text message. Even the writing style of the book that each character appears in is maintained in the texts. Ortberg initially wrote some “text” series for the website The Toast and you can see those—and get a preview of the book!—here.

New movies on order at the AADL!

The AADL has a great selection of recently released films for you to check out in case you missed them while they were in theaters (or want to see them again!).

Million Dollar Arm, starring John Hamm, is the heartwarming biographical story of JB Bernstein, a sports agent who’s fallen on hard times. In a desperate attempt to keep his business running, JB creates a baseball competition in India called “million dollar arm,” and brings the two finalists (real-life pitchers Dinesh Patel and Rinku Singh) back to the US to attempt to sign them with professional teams.

The Grand Seduction, starring Taylor Kitsch (of Friday Night Lights fame), is a Canadian film set in a small fishing village along the coast. In order for a lucrative factory to be built, the citizens must procure a doctor to move to the town and set up his practice there. When big-city doctor Paul Lewis arrives for a trial stay in the town, the locals band together to try and make everything perfect for his visit. As Paul’s time left in the village dwindles and no decision has been made, a final “grand seduction” is planned to try and convince him to remain.

Begin Again, featuring Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, and Adam Levine, is a lovely story about Gretta, a struggling British songwriter who has just been dumped by her rockstar boyfriend. While performing at a local bar, she’s discovered by an also-struggling music producer, Dan. After convincing Gretta to sign with him, the two embark on a summer-long outdoor recording session in New York City, flanked by a team of talented musicians and Dan’s daughter, an aspiring musician herself.

If I Stay is the film adaptation of the wildly popular young adult novel of the same title. Chloe Grace Moretz stars in the film as Mia Hall, a talented young cellist who is nearly killed in a car accident. As she lays in a coma in the hospital, the audience sees her flash back through the happy and sad experiences she’s had throughout her life. We see her early life as the daughter of a famous rock musician and his inexperienced wife, her first interest in the cello and ensuing talent, and when she meets her boyfriend, Adam. After learning that the other members of her family have died, Mia realizes that it is up to her to decide whether she will join them in death or fight back through to the world of the living.

Other new releases just added to the collection include Maleficent, Guardians of the Galaxy, Chef, The Giver, and A Most Wanted Man.

100 Sideways Miles

100 Sideways Miles is Andrew Smith’s 9th young adult novel and follows the amazingly awesome Winger and the bizzare yet fascinating Grasshopper Jungle. His latest 100 Sideways Miles falls into the “greening of young adult lit” category (thanks to the popular books by YA author John Green) that feature realistic characters with funny narration that’s easy to fall in love with.

16 year old Finn Easton suffers from epilepsy after a childhood freak accident involving his mother and a falling horse. He is also the inspiration for a character in his fiction-writing father’s best-selling novel. These facts do not make him the most popular kid in town. This unique guy does not view time in minutes, he sees it in miles. Finn’s adventures include his funny best friend Cade, his first crush, dealing with “blanking out” during seizures, and the inevitable college-bound road trip with a surprise end result. This book is a winner, and is on the longlist for the National Book Award For Young People's Fiction. (For ages 14 and up.)

Create "censored" poetry tonight in honor of Banned Books Week!

Tonight, Tuesday September 23, from 7:00 to 8:30pm at the Traverwood branch of the AADL, come create your own poetry out of used book pages! Using colored pencils, attendees can artistically highlight certain words on torn out book pages and black out others to create unique poems. Participants will also have the chance to affix their work to a canvas to take home. This event is intended for grades 6-adult, and all supplies will be provided. See you there!

Radiolab Reads

Some of you may be familiar with the Peabody-award winning radio show/podcast Radiolab, which airs on nearly 450 stations across the United States. Here in Ann Arbor, you can hear it on Michigan Public Radio on Friday and Sunday evenings. I love Radiolab for the vast array of topics that they cover in a fun, informative manner. There is a ton to learn in every episode and short that they do, and hosts Robert Krulwich and Jad Abumrad interview fascinating, knowledgeable people, turning their information into incredibly compelling stories.

I recently discovered the invaluable resource Radiolab Reads, a “virtual bookshelf” that compiles all of the books mentioned in their episodes, with links to the Amazon page for each book. Even if you’re not familiar with the show, this site is an amazing compilation of books on every topic imaginable. Most of the books are non-fiction, and this site might be particularly appealing to reluctant non-fiction readers since you’re sure to find something that catches your eye!

If you tend to—literally—judge books by their cover (hey, it’s okay, we all do it sometimes!), Radiolab has a cool tumblr with the covers of each of the books mentioned on their Radiolab Reads page. You can sort by genre, and find the link to the books’ Amazon pages after clicking on a given cover.

Nearly all of the books discussed on these Radiolab pages can be borrowed from the AADL. You can search our catalog for any that you're interested in. For more information about Radiolab, visit their website, and find specifics about how to listen to the show here.

The Warren Commission Report

Out today is The Warren Commission Report: A Graphic Investigation by comic maestros Dan Mishkin, Ernie Colon, and Jerzy Drozd, host of AADL’s Comics Are Great podcast! This new graphic novel brings the titular report, put together by a seven-member commission called for by President Lyndon B. Johnson to investigate the assassination of John F. Kennedy, to life. The commission determined there was no "credible evidence" to support any theory other than a lone gunman, but even now, America wonders. Was there a magic bullet? Did the shots come from Texas School Book Depository, or from the now-infamous grassy knoll? How could the Warren Commission reach the conclusions that it did? We've all got questions about the moments leading up to JFK's death, and the Warren Commission report provides one possible set of answers, answers now fantastically illustrated for your perusal.

Want to meet the minds behind the book? Wonder just what kind of research writing and drawing about something so historic requires? Want to get your own spanking new copy signed? Vault of Midnight comic book store is hosting a signing with Dan Mishkin and Jerzy Drozd from 7 pm to 9:30 pm tomorrow, Wednesday, September 17th. If making a fabulous comic masterpiece of your own is more your speed, consider coming to AADL's Webcomics Lab tomorrow from 6 to 8 pm at the Malletts Creek Branch. We'll have some great art toys for you to play with – if you've never gotten your hands on a Wacom tablet, or a light box, or Manga Studio, come on over!

2014 Young People's National Book Award Longlist Announced!

It's that time of year again - book award season! This year the National Book Award for Young People has listed ten youth and teen fiction and non-fiction titles in the running for the 2014 National Book Awards. The titles in contention are:
The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson
Girls Like Us by Gail Giles
Skink-No Surrender by Carl Hiaasen
Greenglass House by Kate Milford
Threatened by Eliot Schrefer
The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin
100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith
Noggin by John Corey Whaley
Revolution: The Sixties Trilogy, Book Two by Deborah Wiles
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
A few of these titles are on order and should appear in our catalog shortly so that holds may be placed.

New Teen Fiction!

Strange and Ever After is the third and final book of the Something Strange and Deadly trilogy, by Susan Dennard. This fun and unique series blends together lots of great elements: fantasy, romance, steampunk, historical fiction…and zombies! In this final installment, main character Eleanor Fitt travels to Egypt to track down and battle the evil necromancer who kidnapped her mother, brother, and friends. The conclusion of this pursuit causes unexpected consequences that will change Eleanor, and the world, forever. Haven’t read the first two books in the trilogy? Start with Something Strange and Deadly and follow with A Darkness Strange and Lovely, before finding out how it all ends in Strange and Ever After.

Touted as a combination of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park, Cammie McGovern’s new book Say What You Will is a heartfelt and honest story. Amy, who was born with cerebral palsy, has struggled her whole life to move, communicate and even control her facial expressions. When she finally decides to hire student aides to assist her during her senior year of high school, Matthew, who suffers from severe obsessive-compulsive disorder and crippling fears, is thrust into her life. Despite their physical, psychological and emotional differences, a friendship blossoms between the two. Readers will fly through this book eager to find out if the teens’ unique connection may grow into something more.

The Ring and the Crown, by prolific teen author Melissa de la Cruz, is set in an alternate 19th century world in which the Franco-British empire controls the only source of magic. Told from the perspective of five different characters related to the royal court, the story is a light and fun historical fantasy/romance. In order to protect the empire, Princess Marie-Victoria must enter into a loveless marriage with the heir to the Prussian throne. With the aid of her childhood friend Aelwyn, Marie conspires to escaper her fate… and potentially changes the fate of the entire world while she’s at it!

Ann Arbor | Ypsilanti Reads

It's that time again! The communities of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti join literary forces to read and discuss one book. The 2015 theme is A Very Good Read .

We are down to two finalists, We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo and A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki.

The judges want your feedback, which book should be the one that Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti reads? Read them and share your opinion by visiting the Finalist page, then click on the link that takes you to the book's page, and tell us what you think. Both titles are available for AADL cardholders to borrow. The Finalist will be selected in October.

You can listen to an interview with Ruta Sepetys the author of last year's Read winner, Between Shades of Gray, when she visited AADL. You can also visit the Ann Arbor Ypsilanti Reads website to find out more about the program.

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