Ages 18+.

Like Downton Abbey? Try Call the Midwife!

If you are eagerly anticipating Season 4 of Downton Abbey but can’t bear to wait until January for it to air in the United States, the British drama Call the Midwife is a great show to make the waiting easier! Based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, the show also originally aired in Britain and is set in London in the mid-twentieth century, a few decades after the setting of Downton Abbey. The show centers around main character Jenny Lee, a newly qualified midwife who works with other midwives in a nursing convent on London’s impoverished east side. The midwives and the nuns are kept very busy delivering babies and caring for newborns in and around the London area, and each episode typically also features a healthy dose of humor, romance, and interpersonal struggles.

Like Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife experienced huge success when it was first aired on the BBC in 2012, winning the Best New Drama TV Choice Award. It was then aired in the United States on PBS in the fall of 2012. The second season was also wildly popular, and the third season will be airing in 2014 in Great Britain and the United States.

You can check out the complete first and second seasons of Call the Midwife (as well as the first three seasons of Downton Abbey!) at the AADL.

Poldark

PoldarkPoldark

If you are missing Downton Abbey, and need something to fill the dark evenings, you might give Poldark a try. Based on the novels of Winston Graham, and released as a 29-episode television series in England 38 years ago, it is still in the top 10 favorite Masterpiece Theater series of all time.

Set in Cornwall, at the end of the 18th century, Captain Ross Poldark returns from the American wars to find his father dead, his estate in ruin and his fiancee (believing him dead) married to his cousin. Over the next 15 years, we follow Ross, his low-born, but very charming and spirited wife, Demelza, and his family, neighbors, friends and enemies, as they battle storms of jealousy, villainy and economic uncertainty. There is also enough of love, success and contentment to keep things on a fairly even keel.

Being Cornwall, the fortunes and vicissitudes of life are influenced by mining and smuggling, and stories of both figure prominently in Poldark's story, and being the late 18th century, the French Revolution has exerted its influence on the class-conscious Brits. There is plenty of adventure, in other words, and the dashing and head-strong Poldark does not disappoint as he dashes about, righting wrongs and sometimes creating and then solving numerous scrapes. The scenes of the Cornish countryside and coast are particularly beautiful.

Not quite as elegant or fine a family as the Crawfords, the Poldarks still entertain with many of the same themes: class differences, love – both thwarted and fulfilled, the politics and struggles of the day, good vs evil men and women, and the fortunes and misfortunes of inherited privilege and wealth. Part romance, part adventure and part soap-opera, it is all you have come to expect from British historical drama.

Block Printing Workshop

Wednesday, December 4 | Malletts Creek | Grades 6-Adult

In this workshop you will create a design, carve the design into a soft linoleum block with the proper tools, and then print the image onto paper or note cards. This is your chance to create something to hang on your wall, or perhaps design a holiday card.

We will supply all the tools necessary, you supply the creativity! If you have a design in mind, or something you’d like to print on, or have your own tools, feel free to bring them.

Check out some of AADL’s books on block printing for a spark of ideas.

This DIY event is for Grades 6- Adult, and takes place at the Malletts Creek Branch on Wednesday, December 4, from 6:30-8:30pm. See you there!

Graphic Novel Recommendation: Little Fish

Little Fish : A Memoir from a Different Kind of Year begins with Ramsey Beyer’s reflections on growing up in a little farm town, Paw Paw, Michigan. But nothing exciting seemed to be happening there and the culture felt one-dimensional. As a high schooler, the most fun she could extract from between the cornfields was punk music and the internet (Livejournal, to be more specific). Armed with her own intimate records from years worth of personal journals, Beyer crafts her memories into an offbeat coming-of-age story with intricate details and drawings in a zine-like fashion. Eventually, she makes her way off the farm in Paw Paw and into the big city of Baltimore, where she transitions into a whole new life at an art college; the graphic novel continues to blossom from there.

Personally, I can relate immensely to this unique story: I, too, grew up in the little town of Paw Paw, Michigan, pop. 3,534. I also spent my childhood following my mom to “The Shopping Center” and eating ice cream in the summertime at “The Sugar Bear” (see Ramsey’s map of Paw Paw in the book). Although I didn't leave to go to art school, I also flew the coop as soon as I could, and headed due east. I have in turn grown an appreciation for the distinct city life and diverse cultures that fill the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti/Detroit area of Michigan, and have had many new experiences similar to Ramsey’s since leaving our small town.

Don’t get me wrong, though, Paw Paw - with its vineyards and slower ways of life - will always have a place in my heart, and Ramsey’s too, as anyone can tell from this extraordinary graphic novel.

Comic Artists Forum with Ted Woods

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

We all have our favorite artists and try to emulate them. But how do you develop your own style? Artist Ted Woods, creator of The Book of Love, will focus on the long development of his own artistic style. He'll discuss the various artists that have influenced him over the years, and the different ways he has melded their styles into one of his own.

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

Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey and Birute Galdikas

From author Jim Ottaviani’s boundless curiosity and research springs another fascinating graphic historical science comic. Primates relates the stories of three female scientists and how their life experiences brought them to discovery in the world of primates. All three women are protégés of anthropologist Louis Leakey and each find their niche of study – Jane Goodall researches chimpanzee behavior, Dian Fossey becomes a leading expert on mountain gorillas, and Birute Galdikas builds world awareness and understanding of orangutans.

The adventures of these three women who would come to know one another are ably illustrated by Maris Wicks who employs a cartoon style that infuses the energy and passion of each woman. Though cartoony the earth green/brown colors lend a realism that help the reader imagine the habitats in which these women live and work.

Drop Off Your Old Eyeglasses!

lions recyclelions recycle

Do you have eyeglasses that you no longer use or need? The Ann Arbor (Host) Lions Club has over 30 drop-off locations throughout Washtenaw County. Lions Club International collects an average of 4.5 millions pairs of glasses per year to send to developing countries. You can also donate prescription or regular sunglasses too. For information on how AADL serves those with low or no vision, check out the Washtenaw Library for the Blind and Physically Disabled @ AADL!

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #437 - Ars longa, vita brevis (Art is long, life is short)

At the heart of Thomas Van Essen's debut - The Center of the World *, is perhaps the greatest painting by the renowned British painter J. M. W. Turner, and Henry Leiden, a middle-aged family man with a troubled marriage and a dead-end job, who finds his life transformed by the discovery of the painting in a secret compartment at his summer home in the Adirondacks.

Unlike the marine paintings Turner is known for, The Center of the World is a mesmerizing and erotic painting of Helen of Troy, so scandalous at the time that it was believed to have been burned by John Ruskin. Van Essen reimagines the 19th C. setting where Turner struggled to create this painting at the home of his patron Lord Egremont, and Elizabeth Spencer, Turner's muse and the model for his Helen.

"Filled with sex, beauty, and love (of all kinds), this richly textured novel explores the intersection between art and eroticism." "Van Essen writes gracefully and makes accessible the issue of art as transcendence...an appreciation for how art moves the human heart."

The Girl You Left Behind * by Jojo Moyes is about a 100 year-old painting that serves as catalyst in linking two loves stories, one set in occupied France during World War I, the other in contemporary London.

Liv Halston could not part with the painting her late husband David, a brilliant architect gave her as a wedding gift. Readers would be able to deduce that it is the same painting that Édouard, an artist who studied with Henri Matisse, painted of his wife Sophie Lefèvre, a village innkeeper before he headed off to war in 1916. The mystery is the odyssey of how this painting - The Girl I left Behind ended up in the hands of the Halstons, and who is the rightful owner - whether it is the Lefèvre heirs, the WWI occupying German kommandant who coerced a bargain with Sophie, or Liv who treasures it as the last link to the man she lost too soon?

"Moyes has created a riveting depiction of a wartime occupation that has mostly faded from memory. Liv and Sophie are so real in their faults, passion, and bravery that the reader is swept along right to the end. This one is hard to put down!"

Needing no introduction is Donna Tartt. In this her 3rd novel which took a good part of a decade to write The Goldfinch * * , the name is taken from a small, exquisitely rendered painting.

13 year-old Theo Decker miraculously survives an accident that takes the life of his mother. Alone and abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by a friend's family and struggles to make sense of his new life. In the years that follow, he becomes entranced by one of the few things that reminds him of his mother: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the art underworld.

"The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America, and a drama of almost unbearable acuity and power. It is a story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the enormous power of art."

* = starred review
* * = 2 starred reviews

The Flat

The Flat is an autobiographical documentary centered around family and mystery. When Arnon Goldfinger’s grandmother passes away, her Tel Aviv flat needs to be cleaned out. As family gathers to sort through decades of memories, questions arise. Searching for answers, Arnon turns to his mother, but she is unable to provide adequate information, explaining that her parents did not willingly offer information and she did not ask. The most troublesome discovery is that when Arnon’s Jewish grandparents moved from Germany to Tel Aviv at the beginning of World War II, they maintained friendships with members of the Nazi party. After the war was over they even visited one another and continued a steady correspondence. Stunned, Arnon is sent on a scavenger hunt to discover just how a relationship between two such groups could survive, surrounded by war and atrocities.

Another less pressing question, but equally fascinating, is why Goldfinger’s grandparents were so reluctant to leave Germany and why his great grandmother refused to leave at all. These individuals had such a connection to their home country that even with the threat of discrimination and death, they did not want to abandon it. If you are more interested in this concept, you should check out Bound Upon a Wheel of Fire: Why so many German Jews made the tragic decision to remain in Nazi Germany.

The Flat is poignant and honest. Some people who are shown in the film wrestle with what they discover about their relatives while others walk away with more questions that will most likely never be answered. This is a great film to spark conversation.

Doris Lessing, groundbreaking novelist, has died

Doris Lessing, whose 1962 novel, The Golden Notebook, electrified young women with its forward-thinking themes, died yesterday in London.

Ms. Lessing was born in Iran in 1919 and raised in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) by a father grievously wounded in World War I and a cranky mother who chomped at the bit to escape her domestic responsibilities. Lessing attributed her mother's resentment as a key factor in shaping her own evolving discoveries of the untapped power of women at an early age. She dropped out of school at 14 and discovered writing.

Her first book, the 1950 release of The Grass Is Singing, was instantly controversial. Set in then-Rhodesia, it is the searing account of a bored white farmer's wife and her relationship with one of the farm's black slaves. Lessing's relentless examination of the endless layers of injustice that she saw everywhere was so ferocious that she was labeled a 'prohibited alien' by the governments of South Africa and Southern Rhodesia in 1956 for her inflammatory opinions.

In 1962, Lessing became one of the unwilling literary leaders of the nascent feminist movement, a label eschewed by her because she said the early feminists' embrace of all things political made them angry name-callers. The Golden Notebook tackled head-on the full menu of women's issues that to this day drive many social issues conversations. Marriage vs. freedom, motherhood vs. career, intellect vs. coy submissiveness, black vs. white. She herself lived of what she wrote, abandoning two husbands and two out of her three children when she fled to England.

Ms. Lessing also wrote two very popular series. The Children of Violence, which begins with Martha Quest (1952) and concludes seventeen years later with entry number five, The Four-Gated City (1969). During the span of this series, a teenage Martha Quest leaves her life on an African farm and flees to England, endures the horrors of World War II, and forges a new, more independent, if fraught life, in post-war London.

The second series is a five-entry science fiction work, Canopus in Argos: Archives (1979-1983).

Ms. Lessing was recipient of many awards. One of her most notable distinctions was to be named the oldest Nobel laureate for literature, receiving that honor in 2007 when she was 88 years old. She claimed it ruined her life because the demands on her time that accompanied such an honor, made it impossible for her to write.

Her last book, Alfred and Emily (2008) was a study of her parents' life, filled with speculation about what their lives would have been like if World War I had not happened.

Ms. Lessing was 94.

Syndicate content