Ages 18+.

Comic Artists Forum with Artist Justin Castaneda

Sunday October 6, 2013: 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm -- Downtown Library: 4th Floor Meeting Room

This event is intended for adults and teens (grade 6 and up).

Learn about visual storytelling and writing from life with artist Justin Castaneda. He has developed the When I Was Little children's book series and evolved it into more than just books.

Join the Forum to get fresh ideas for your graphic novel or next comics creation. Drawing supplies are provided, so drop in to draw, learn, and network with other cartoonists.

UM Professor, Dr. Susan Murphy, is one of this year's MacArthur Foundation 'Geniuses'

This morning, Dr. Susan Murphy, the H.E. Robbins Professor of Statistics and Professor of Psychiatry at The University of Michigan, was awarded one of two dozen new MacArthur Fellows,

Dr. Murphy's current focus is on adaptive intervention, which involves developing plans to work with patients who have chronic or relapsing illnesses (such as, substance abuse or depression) where effective courses of treatment are constantly adjusted for maximum benefit.

Novelist Karen Russell is another new Fellow. The first story in her debut collection, St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves (2006) served as the basis for her much acclaimed first novel, Swamplandia (2011), set in the Everglades and narrated by 13-year-old Ava. Swamplandia was one of three finalists for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. Alas, no award in that category was given last year, due to the lack of the minimum required number of votes.

These "Genius Awards", as they are affectionately known, come with no strings attached. The Fellows are free to spend the money as they wish. This year, the Geniuses received a raise. The formerly half-million dollar reward has been bumped to $625,000, paid out yearly for five years.

For a complete list of the MacArthur Foundation Fellows for the Class of 2013, check here.

Challenged Classics

According to the American Library Association, almost half of the books that appear on the Radcliffe Publishing Course's list of 100 best novels have been challenged.

Here, we'll highlight just a few.

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald was challenged at the Baptist College in Charleston, South Carolina (1987). This book was challenged because of language and sexual references in the book. Maybe your book club would enjoy discussing this element of the book's past. Or check out a movie adaptation of this American classic.

The coming of age tale, The Catcher in the Rye has been challenged numerous times. Salinger's book was challenged for being anti-white, unacceptable, and obscene. It was challenged for language, sexual references, and centering on negative activity. The book was challenged for being blasphemous and undermining morality. At least one teacher was fired for assigning the book to an eleventh grade English class. This particular Tulsa teacher was later reinstated, but the book was not used in the school. The book has been removed from many reading lists and school libraries over the years.

The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck has also been challenged, banned, and burned. Vulgar words, the portrayal of a former minister who recounts how he took advantage of a young woman, being full of filth, and using the names of God and Jesus in vain are all given as reasons for these many challenges.

James Joyce's Ulysses was burned in the United States (1918), Ireland (1922), Canada (1922) and England (1923).

The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding has been challenged across the US over a period of decades. In 1974, it was challenged in a Texas school district. In 1981 it was challenged at high schools in South Dakota and in North Carolina. 1983 brought on a challenge in an Arizona high school. The book was challenged again in Texas in 1984. In Toronto a committee of the Canada Board of Education ruled that the book was racist and denigrated blacks in 1988. In 1992, the book was challenged in Iowa schools. In 2000, the book was challenged as a title on a ninth grade accelerated English reading list.

If you're interested in learning about more challenges of these American classics, ALA's page on banned and challenged books can tell you all about it.

The Anthony Awards 2013 have been announced

The Anthony Awards, which acknowledge the best in crime fiction, were announced at the conclusion of the 44th Boucheron, the conference for mystery writers and readers.

Among the winners were:

Louise Penny for her fourth consecutive Anthony. This year her Anthony was for The Beautiful Mystery, the eighth book in her Inspector Armand Gamache series. Her previous three Anthonys were also for entries in this critically acclaimed series.

Chris Pavone's The Expats received its second Best First Novel award. The first was a 2013 Edgar in the same category.

Books to Die For: The World's Greatest Mystery Writers on the World's Greatest Mystery Novels took the Best Critical/Non-Fiction Work category.

For a complete list of 2013 Anthony Winners, check here.

Challenged Children's Books

Books for audiences of all ages have been challenged over the years. Here is a sampling of some of the challenged titles and the reasons they were challenged.

A Wrinkle in Time, 1963 winner of the Newbery Award, was one of the most often challenged books of the 1990s. In the story, a girl named Meg is transported through time and space with her brother and a friend to rescue her scientist-father from the evil forces that hold him prisoner on another planet. This novel has been challenged for undermining religious beliefs.

The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm have been challenged many times for a number of reasons including racism, violence, anti-Semitic references and negative portrayal of female characters. More specifically, Hansel and Gretel has been challenged for teaching children that it is okay to kill witches, as well as portraying witches as child-eating monsters. Little Red Riding Hood has been challenged for violence, considering Little Red Riding Hood's actions upon the Big Bad Wolf. Also called in to question was the appropriateness of the girl bringing wine to her grandmother and her grandmother later drinking the wine. Snow White was also challenged for violence because a hunter kills a wild boar, and because of the wicked witch's evil wishes toward Snow White.

Other classic fairy tales have been challenged, too. A 1994 version of The Little Mermaid was challenged its illustrations. Bare-breasted mermaids were called pornographic, and the book was seen as containing "satanic pictures."

Speaking of Satan, the Harry Potter books have been challenged for containing Satanism as well as witchcraft, wizardry, cults, death, hate, and dark content.

The Narnia books, a series of seven high fantasy books, have been challenged on the grounds of portraying graphic violence, mysticism, and gore.

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax, a story about a boy from a ruined town who endeavors to find out how the town was destroyed, has been challenged for criminalizing the foresting industry.

2013 Primetime Emmy winners announced

The 2013 Primetime Emmy winners were announced in a three-hour, star-studded extravaganza.

The Emmys, hosted by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, are the television equivalent of the silver screen's Oscars. The Emmys are a bit different than the Oscars in that there are several award ceremonies throughout the year. The Primetime and the Daytime Emmys are the most popular.

Some of the big winners are:

Claire Danes, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, for her role as Carrie Mathison, a brilliant volatile CIA agent who battles modern day terrorism in the series, Homeland.

Chelsea, MI resident, Jeff Daniels got the nod for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his portrayal of acid-tongued news anchor, Will McAvoy in The Newsroom.

Breaking Bad captured Outstanding Drama Series. What's not to love (and fear) about a chemistry teacher whose diagnosis of terminal cancer inspires him to go on a crime spree to build up resources to take care of his family when he's gone?

Julia Louis-Dreyfus is the new Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, Veep. Her character, Vice President Selina Meyer, has a lot to juggle -- political land mines, a challenging relationship with the President, and a stressful personal life.

One of the big winners of the evening was the HBO movie, Behind the Candelabra, based on the tell-all book by the same name, written by Liberace's longtime lover Scott Thorson. Michael Douglas walked away with the award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie. Steven Soderbergh picked up the Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special, and the film itself was named Outstanding Miniseries or Movie.

For a complete list of the Primetime Emmy winners, click here.

My Dog: The Paradox

Having come out of a “doggy” summer, I picked up My Dog: The Paradox and enjoyed a good laugh. Creator Matthew Inman’s many years of observing his dogs, in particular Rambo to whom the book is dedicated, helped to serve as the inspiration for this ode to man’s best friend. He explores such questions as how is it that dogs are absolutely fearless in the face of trucks, animals four times their size, and thoroughly love to roll in horse droppings yet are unable to cope with a hair blow dryer and can’t make eye contact with cats?

Based on one of Inman’s online comics posted at The Oatmeal man’s best friend is simply yet colorfully portrayed in this little book not to be missed.

It's Banned Book Week! September 22-28, 2013

What is Banned Book Week?

It is the national book community's annual celebration of the freedom to read. One way that libraries and bookstores observe Banned Book Week is by highlighting challenged material.

What exactly are we talking about when we talk about challenged books?

According to the American Library Association page on challenged materials, a "challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others."

The American Library Association Office for Intellectual Freedom regularly releases lists of the most frequently challenged books. 2013 is still in full swing, but if you've ever wanted to read a challenged book, then here's a list of 2012's most often challenged books. Maybe you have been reading challenged books all along without even knowing it.

In this area, Dav Pilkey's Captain Underpants series ranked number 1. This series has been challenged for having "offensive language" and for being regarded by the challenger as "unsuited to age group." 2012 isn't the first year the series has appeared on the list; it gained this distinction in 2002, 2004 and in 2005.

According to the American Library Association, there were 464 challenges reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2012, and many more go unreported.

Other top challenged books and the reasons for the challenge (from the perspective of the challenger) in 2012 were:

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie. Reasons: Offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group.
Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher. Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group.
Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James. Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit.
And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson. Reasons: Homosexuality, unsuited for age group.
The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini. Reasons: Homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit.
Looking for Alaska, by John Green. Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz. Reasons: Unsuited for age group, violence.
The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls. Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit.
Beloved, by Toni Morrison. Reasons: Sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence.

LEGO Lovers Take Note! Build the Change Call for Designs!

If you have entered our famous LEGO contest or are just a LEGO enthusiast who has made a project that conveys sustainable design there's a contest just for you! Connect4Climate recently partnered with LEGO® to launch the Build the Change Call for Designs. The Build the Change Call for Designs invites individuals and groups from all over the world to showcase their talents and create LEGO® brick sustainable cities.To participate, participants post a photo or video of their LEGO® brick creation to the Connect4Climate Facebook Page and include a brief description of their creation, the hashtag #BuildTheChange, the name of the LEGO® brick creator and, optionally, their city of residence and age. The deadline is September 28, 2013.

Selected photos and videos will be featured at the LEGO® Build the Change Workshop at the EcoCity World Summit in Nantes, France.

Show the WORLD that Ann Arbor has the biggest and best LEGO fans!

Celebrate National Butterscotch Pudding day!

Who knew that there was a such thing as National Butterscotch Pudding Day?

Indeed, there is!

Maybe you've never made your own? This doesn't have to be the case.

The New York Times Dessert Cookbook has a recipe for it. That's not the only treat you'll find in this volume. Florence Fabricant, a long time food writer for the New York Times, put together this collection of 400 dessert recipes that appeared in the paper through the years. There's a wide range of recipes here, as well as essays and holiday menu suggestions.

I've mentioned this book before, but Make the Bread Buy the Butter has a recipe for butterscotch pudding, along with other foods you might not otherwise think to make at home.

David Leibovitz gets a bit fancier with his take on it with Butterscotch Pudding With Coffee-Caramelized Bananas in Ripe for Dessert. This book will inspire you with unique recipes like Brazil Nut, Date and Ginger Tart, or Pineapple Frangipane Tart.

As we head into fall, a bit of butterscotch pudding might be the perfect way to transition from light summertime treats to the deeper flavors of autumn.

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