ages 11-18

AADL Writing Contests Begin Today!

We want to see it in writing! Starting today, AADL's two writing contests are accepting entries and offer the chance to win fabulous prizes! Read on for more information:

KIDS in grades 3-5 can enter the "Write On!" Short Story Contest by email or in person at the Downtown branch. View the official guidelines for more details. Please send questions to youngwrite@aadl.org

TEENS in grades 6-12 can send works of flash fiction and short stories to the "It's All Write!" Teen Writing Contest through our online submission forms. View the official guidelines for more details. Please send questions to allwrite@aadl.org

If you're stuck wondering what the judges are looking for, try structuring your story to include these elements:
*A creative and original plot with a solid resolution
*Well-developed and detailed characters
*A clear story sequence from beginning to end

Happy writing!

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #625, Part 2

First, you need to know that as one trusted Library Journal reviewer puts it in no uncertain terms: "(t)his bleak, potent picture will scare the pants off readers".

According to debut novelist Lindsey Lee Johnson (herself a former tutor/teen mentor), The Most Dangerous Place on Earth * * is your local high school - where we send our precious ones as a matter of course.

Alternately narrating is a group of privileged Mill Valley juniors, linked by the parts they played in the suicide of a middle school classmate. Among them are the classic high school archetypes: the jock, the A-student, the bully, the stoner, the outcast - all in the throes of a time of tumult and confusion, amplified by the seduction and tyranny of social media.

Caught up in the daily drama of these teens is Molly Nicoll, a mid-year replacement teacher from scrubbier Fresno. First time away from home, and barely out of her teens, she too, is navigating faculty-lounge cliques; the vigor of teaching; demands of entitled and indulgent parents; and trying to connect with her students. Lonely and naive, she strikes up a relationship with a fellow teacher who turns out to be a predator.

"(Johnson) keeps the action brisk and deepens readers’ investment, culminating in a high school party that goes wrong. Readers may find themselves so swept up in this enthralling novel that they finish it in a single sitting." (Publishers Weekly)

Suggested for fans of Celeste Ng's Everything I Never Told You and The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer.

* * = 2 starred reviews

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #625, Part 1

I don't know any significance to January 17, but three of the most buzzed spring debut novels will be officially released on that date.

The Bear and the Nightingale * * * * by Katherine Arden is set in medieval Russia, steeped in history and myth.

At the edge of the wilderness where winters last forever, Princess Marina risked it all to bring Vasilisa “Vasya” Petrovna into the world, certain that she would inherit her royal grandmother’s gift of magic and knowledge of the spirit world. A stranger with piercing blue eyes presented the grieving father with a precious jewel meant for the child. Growing up wild and fearless, Vasya roamed the woods befriending sprites and household spirits until Konstantin, an exiled priest with golden hair, and Anna, her pious, and troubled stepmother became obsessed with Vasya’s salvation.

As two supernatural beings, Morozko and Medved, sought to harness Vasya’s powerful gifts by threatening the survival of their village, Vasya discovered that, armed only with the necklace and embracing the magic within, she might be the only one who could save them all.

"In a lush narrative with the cadence of a fairy tale, Arden weaves an immersive, earthy story of folk magic, faith, and hubris, peopled with vivid, dynamic characters, particularly clever, brave Vasya, who outsmarts men and demons alike to save her family. This beautifully written, auspicious first novel is utterly bewitching." (Booklist)

"Fleet and gorgeous as the firebird, a highly recommended exemplar of literary fantasy." (Library Journal)

Will appeal to fans of Naomi Novik; Neil Gaiman; and Eowyn Ivey.

* * * * = 4 starred reviews

Participate in this year's Washtenaw Reads!

$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America is this year’s Washtenaw Reads book selection. Researched and written by Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer, the book details the lives of six different families who barely survive on less than $2.00 a day in various parts of the country. Eye-opening and alarming, the book also explains the laws behind the reasons that some people are forced to live on so little. The authors will speak at Rackham Auditorium on Tuesday, February 7 at 7:00p.m. The event includes time for questions and book signing.

The AADL is also hosting several more intimate discussions of the book. The first of these takes place on Wednesday, January 25 at 7:00 p.m. in the Downtown Library multipurpose room. The second will occur on Sunday, February 12 at 3:00 p.m. at Westgate Branch in the Westside Room. All are welcome to attend these guided discussions, with no registration required. Participants may want to bring a copy of the book—available at all AADL locations—to reference during the discussion.

For more events surrounding this year’s Washtenaw Reads selection, follow the link here.

Looking for resources about $2.00 a Day, including interviews with the authors and related reading? Visit the link here.

ESL Personal Tutoring Available!

Washtenaw Literacy has announced that they are offering an ESL Personal Tutoring option. With this service, an ESL tutor will meet with 3-4 learners every week to work on reading, writing, speaking and listening. Learners will decide together when & where to meet and will do so as a cluster for 6 months to work on the groups' goals.Tutoring is free and confidential.

If you are interested in Personal Tutoring, please email Alison (austin@washtenawliteracy.org) or call 734-879-1320 to register for a Learner Orientation.

Learner Orientation is the first step in Personal Tutoring. The learner will meet with a staff member to learn about Personal Tutoring. They will talk about the learner's goals and interests. Participants will need to provide contact information. Washtenaw Literacy will assess the learner's English level. The Learner Orientation lasts approximately 90 minutes. This is a great opportunity for English language learners from age 16-adult to get more consistent help to learn and better understand English.

Love in one day

The Sun is Also A Star

National Book Award Finalist

In her second novel for young adults, The Sun is Also A Star, Nicola Yoon (Everything, Everything) takes an intricate and varied look at the immigrant experience in America as seen through the eyes of several different characters. The two main players in this story are Natasha, whose parents have lived in New York as undocumented immigrants for 8 years, and Daniel, who was born in America to parents who immigrated from Korea. At the start of the book, Natasha’s family is on the brink of deportation and Daniel is facing pressure from his parents and “perfect” older brother as he is applying to top colleges. These two experiences, one of trying to stay in the United States, and one of trying to fit in, circle around each other to bring Natasha and Daniel together. Interspersed throughout Daniel’s and Natasha’s chapters are stories and vignettes from background players, including the universe, that round out the diversity of the immigrant experience, of faith and religion, fate, family and the search for one’s place in the world.
Many events that occur on the day that Natasha and Daniel meet seem fated, but could just be coincidence? This is one of the of the larger questions Yoon conveys. Do things happen for a reason or does it just seem that they do because of what we chose to notice? Natasha and Daniel first approach this puzzle from very different viewpoints but learn that they are not so disparate in their thinking after all. And they discover together that whether or not people change, their eyes can be opened to new ways of seeing. Though these existential questions might generally contribute to teenage angst, Daniel and Natasha are not typically angsty. Worried, yes, but grounded as well. They have the same concerns as most teenagers, as well as larger concerns imposed by culture, family, and citizenship. “For most immigrants, moving to the new country is an act of faith. Even if you’ve heard stories of safety, opportunity, and prosperity, it’s still a leap to remove yourself from your own language, people, and country. Your own history.” Their love story is the best kind, romantic and awkward and thrilling all at once. Their chronicles of immigration and of belonging provide relevance to this romantic tale and show us that much can be accomplished through brave acts.

Just Added! New Genre Offerings from Teen Bestselling Authors

If you're into Teen lit and looking for something new to obsess over, a couple of popular Teen authors have released (or will soon release!) some brand new titles:

Veronica Roth, author of the dystopian bestseller Divergent, will release Carve The Mark in January 2017, the first in a science fiction duology (because trilogies are so 2012) that calls itself a "stunning portrayal of the power of friendship—and love—in a galaxy filled with unexpected gifts." You'll have to check it out yourself to verify its "stunning"-ness, but readers of Roth's Divergent series will at least be in for something new--this title looks like it will be a much more epic, intergalactic brand of Science Fiction.

Fans of the Sci-Fi fairy tale Cinder will be excited to know that in November Marissa Meyer released Heartless, a story from Wonderland history, long before Alice fell down the rabbit hole in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. School Library Journal calls it "an unforgettable story of the evolution of the Red Queen from a young girl who dreamed of true love and freedom to a madwoman best remembered for the phrase 'Off with his head!'" Anyone who's read Meyer's Lunar Chronicles won't be surprised that the author is telling the semi-sympathetic story of another evil queen, but this title trades in the sprockets and cyborgs for some clean-cut Fantasy.

Best Books of 2016

Let's start with probably the most anticipated - New York Time's 100 Notable Books of 2016 and the just released The 10 Best Books of 2016.

Well-chosen are The Washington Post's list of this year's best of the best, and I am astounded how similar the 2 lists are.

NPR’s Book Concierge Guide To 2016’s Great Reads lists over 300 titles that the NPR staff and critics loved this year, many of them award-winners.

Speaking of winners, look no further than the 2016 Goodreads Choice Awards in 20 categories. I should mention that they are the only major book awards decided by readers.

For the fiction reader among us, check out The Huffington Post's the 18 Best Fiction Books of the year; and the Library Journal's best in Genre Fiction (in categories of African American Fiction, Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance, SF/Fantasy, Thrillers, and Women's FIction), as well as Graphic Novels.

Publishers' Weekly Best Books 0f 2016 is notable for a list of the Best Children's and YA Books 2016.

Among specific subject lists, check out The Smithsonian's picks for The Best Books About Science of 2016.

Happy Reading.

R U OK?

Here's a disturbing statistic: One out of seven Washtenaw County middle and high school students have contemplated suicide. What can we do about it?

Through the collaboration of ONE Washtenaw, agencies, organizations and the faith community are working together to coordinate their efforts to prevent suicide, especially of our young citizens. One of their joint ventures is the 'R U OK?' Suicide Prevention Campaign. Community Mental Health, Ozone House and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline have created this awareness campaign. Additionally, training is available for anyone who would like to be a 'lifeguard'. By following the training components of R U OK community members & students can learn how to detect signs of depression & hopelessness, what to say and resources to share. Sometimes just ONE positive interaction can make all the difference for someone contemplating ending their life.

If you feel like you're not O.K. and need someone to talk to here are some important phone numbers: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255, Washtenaw Community Mental Health Access: 734-544-3050 or 800-440-7548 and Ozone House: 734-662-2222.

Spread the word & find out: R U OK?

Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights TEEN GROUP

Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights, or WICIR has long been a champion for our immigrant community by providing advocacy, information and legal assistance. Recently this group has created a safe space for immigrant youth & allies. Meetings take place at Corner Health every 2nd and 4th Monday of the month. Upcoming meetings are December 12, and January 9, 2017. Contact Frania Mendoza for more information: 734-273-9109 or WICIR.YOUTH@gmail.com.

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