ages 11-18

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.

Controlled Burns in Ann Arbor's Natural Areas

Tuesday Feb. 25th | Traverwood | 7:00-8:30 PM | adults and teens (grade 6 and up)

Forest fires are usually a bad thing -- when they aren't meant to happen! However, many Natural Area Preservation organizations around the country use a method called controlled burning to actually help the land. Prescribed or controlled burning is sometimes used in forest management, farming, or prairie restoration and stimulates the germination of some desirable forest trees, thus renewing the forest.

The Natural Area Preservation of Ann Arbor will visit the Traverwood branch of the AADL to further explain what controlled burns are and why they are used in natural areas. This event is for anyone interested in helping with the burns or those who just want to learn more about them.

To learn more about the forests of Michigan, check out these great books in the AADL collection:
- Trees of Michigan: field guide
- Roadside guide to Michigan plants, trees, and flowers: an ecological approach
- Trees of Michigan, including tall shrubs
- Trees of Michigan and the Upper Great Lakes
- Michigan trees: a guide to the trees of the Great Lakes Region

Teen Stuff: Far Far Away by Tom McNeal

Far Far Away is “the strange and fateful tale of a boy, a girl, and a ghost.” Jeremy Johnson Johnson is a quiet teen who keeps to himself in his bookshop home in the town of Never Better. For he is the boy who hears voices, namely one voice: that of the ghost of Jacob Grimm, of Grimm’s fairy tales. Jacob is there to guide Jeremy and protect him from the Keeper Of Occasions – whose identity and evil intentions are unknown. Jacob is the narrator of the story, which leaves for an amazing viewpoint of our main character Jeremy and all that happens in town.

One exciting thing that happens in the sleepy town of Never Better is over at Green Oven Bakery. When green smoke exits the chimney the community knows that the famous prince cakes have been baked! One bite of this delicious cake makes you fall in love with the first person you lay eyes on. Rumor has it this is what happened to Jeremy’s mother, who went to the bakery and then ran off for good with another man, leaving Jeremy’s father in a bed of depression for years. One dark thing that happens in the town of Never Better is that children occasionally go missing and the sheriff doesn’t seem to want to do much about it.

Far Far Away by Tom McNeal is a bit of fairy tale and a bit of a mystery – an original and quick read that surely will take you far far away. The book is currently an Edgar Award Finalist and was recently listed as a Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults.

Meet “It’s All Write!” Judge #4: Siobhan Vivian

Siobhan Vivian was a boisterous child in Rutherford, NJ; she always wanted to have fun and enjoy life. One of her most favorite enjoyments was and still is writing. After graduating from the University of the Arts for Writing for Film and Television, she continued on to receive her Master’s degree in Creative Writing. Now she teaches at the University of Pittsburgh in addition to going on tour for her books.

Siobhan Vivian recently coauthored Burn for Burn with Jenny Han in 2013. All of her books have been published with international editions, including those for Greece, France, Germany, and the UK. YALSA listed three of her books in their annual Best Books for Young Adults: The List (2013), Not That Kind of Girl (2011), and Same Difference (2010).

If you would like to learn more about Siobhan Vivian, check out her website and blog.

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

New Teen Nonfiction: This is NOT a Writing Manual, by Kerri Majors

Kerri Majors was once a teen writer, fantasizing about the day when her book would be published. She'd be featured on "Oprah," and smile politely to her friends with a hidden smirk of pride. But one day she realized that writing was not what she had expected: it really was difficult to face the naysayers and her more successful friends, and she really did need to find a job in addition to her first calling.

Majors has come a long way since then, and her new memoir serves as inspiration to passionate young adult writers with a dream. This is Not a Writing Manual exposes the harsh realities as well as the glorious triumphs that Majors faced as an emerging writer. She does not impose strict grammar rules or stiff writing advice. She simply writes honestly, providing "therapy for writers."

Kerri Majors is best known for her creation of YARN, an online writing magazine for teens. She loves reading YA novels, identifies herself as a California girl, and lives in Massachusetts with her family. To learn more about Kerri, visit her website.

Meet “It’s All Write!” Judge #3: Roland Smith

Roland Smith is a prolific author of teen and youth fiction as well as youth nonfiction. He started writing on a typewriter when he was just five years old in Portland, Oregon. In college he stumbled across the opportunity to work at a children’s zoo, which opened his eyes to the beauty of nature and wildlife. As an animal keeper he traveled the world and worked with animals for over 20 years! He now writes full time, and still expresses his interest in animals through his nonfiction books for children.

Smith just published the fourth book in his I, Q mystery series, I,Q: The Alamo in July 2013. He is well known for his novel Peak, which won the National Outdoor Book Award in 2007, several state awards, and was listed on ALA’s 2008 Best Books for Young Adults.

If you would like to find out more about Roland Smith, visit his website or his blog.

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

Game Start Festival: Saturday, March 1st at Menlo Innovations

Curious about making games? Know any kids or teens who aspire to be future game-makers?

Local organization GameStart is throwing a party at Menlo Innovations (505 East Liberty LL500, Ann Arbor, MI 48104) on Saturday, March 1st, 10am-2pm and everyone is invited! GameStart is an organization that offers classes using games to inspire interest in art, math, science, and programming.

For their event on March 1st, they'll have games to play and give a preview of their upcoming classes for this year, including: Game Mechanics and Design, Minecraft Programming, Computer Animation, and Video Editing. Although there is a fee for many of their classes, this event is free and open to all (and particularly recommended for students in grades 3-8).

AADL will be there with a table of fun stuff, along with other guests from the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, Maker Works, Backyard Brains, AHA! and the Youth Arts Alliance. Stop in to check things out and celebrate the power of interactive learning!

Later that day, 3-5pm, the GameStart staff will also be offering a no-fee class on Storytelling with Computer Animation at the downtown AADL!

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