A New Literary Landmark

On Thursday, November 29th, the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in New York City will celebrate author and longtime Cathedral librarian Madeleine L'Engle with the dedication of the Diocesan House library as a Literary Landmark. L'Engle's books for readers of all ages were profoundly influenced by her Episcopal faith, belief in science, and strong appreciation for the inner lives of children. This year marks the 50th publishing anniversary of her Newbery Medal-winning book A Wrinkle in Time.

November 29th would have been L’Engle’s 94th birthday. During the dedication, Leonard S. Marcus, children’s literature historian and author of Listening for Madeleine: A Portrait of Madeleine L’Engle in Many Voices, will speak about L’Engle and her connection to the Cathedral.

The Star Wars Craft Book

This Saturday, October 6 is Star Wars Reads Day! It's a national event and AADL is participating. To gear up for it, why not make some Star Wars crafts? If you're ready to rock your empire, The Star Wars Craft Book as you covered.

The book has projects for the home including magnets, a Jabba the Hutt body pillow, and an Ewok flower vase. There are also science and nature crafts, playtime crafts like a Yoda doll and a General Grievous finger puppet, and of course there are holiday crafts like a Hanukkah Droidel and a Star Wars snow globe. With full color illustrations and instructions, it's time to grab the glue gun and get crafting.

AADL Talks to Local Author Fritz Freiheit

Fritz Freiheit has been writing science fiction for years. For most of those years, he was working toward an end goal of getting his book published in the traditional manner. He was shopping for agents and dreaming of seeing his book in bookstores. Then Borders closed, and he began to think of things differently. Here, Fritz talks about his decision to self-publish, and introduces us to Dispensing Justice, his alternate-world, coming of age, novel.

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Ray Bradbury, master of Science Fiction and Fantasy, has died

Ray Bradbury, brilliant, prescient, prolific writer of science fiction and fantasy, died yesterday in Los Angeles.

Bradbury is credited with bringing science fiction into mainstream fiction by dispensing with a lot of the technical lingo and focusing on speculation and metaphors to dig into science and technology versus civilization.

Mr. Bradbury won dozens of awards for his enormous body of work. He captured his first prize, the 1947 O. Henry Award, for a short story called Homecoming, which was discovered by Truman Capote, who was an editor at Mademoiselle Magazine. One of his most well-known books, The Martian Chronicles further advanced his career in 1950.

Bradbury followed that success with Fahrenheit 451 in 1953. He took his notion about literature and society -- "You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them." -- and turned it into a classic that has been read by generations of high school students. In 1966, it became a chilling movie, starring Julie Christie and Oskar Werner.

Bradbury's passion for books and reading and libraries was in stark contract to his skepticism for formal education. He elaborated on this contrarian idea in an essay he wrote that can be found in the May 1971 issue of Wilson Library Bulletin (45, 9, 842-851). The title speaks for itself -- How Instead of Being Educated in College, I Was Graduated from Libraries.

Paying tribute to his grandfather, Danny Karapetian said, "...to read him was to know him. He was the biggest kid I know."

Bradbury was 91.

Leo Dillon, one half of the award-winning Dillon & Dillon illustrators' team, has died

Leo Dillon who with Diane, his wife of 55 years, won multiple awards for their collaborative illustrations, has died.

The Dillons met at the prestigious Parsons School of Design in NY and became instant, fierce competitors. Ms. Dillon said their marriage was a 'survival mechanism to keep us from killing each other.' They attributed the success of their artistic sharing to the presence of It who helped wed their two styles.

The couple won multiple awards, including two back-to-back Caldecotts. When they won the 1976 Caldecott for Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears: A West African Folktale, Mr. Dillon, of Trinidadian descent, became the first African American to win that award. The very next year, the Dillons won the Caldecott again, this time for Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions.

Their ouuvre of children's literature illustrations accompanied an equally significant reputation as illustrators of science fiction covers. Five years before their first Caldecott, they captured the Hugo Award for Best Professional Artists.

Geek Pride Day

"Towel Day", "Glorious 25th of May", or "Star Wars Day", whatever you prefer to call it, May 25th is Geek Pride Day and what better way to celebrate it than by visiting your local library? You don't have to be a Sci-Fi geek, or a math geek to celebrate Geek Pride Day, just celebrate whatever you "geek". "Whatever you geek, the public library supports you." Geek The Library reminds us that "No matter who you are, there are things you are passionate about—things you geek. The Geek the Library project is a community public awareness campaign aimed at spreading the word about the vital and growing role of your public library, and to raise awareness about the critical funding issues many U.S. public libraries face." Think of all the resources your library has to offer, be they entertainment like Star Wars or Douglas Adams books or movies, Homework Help or Test Prep, Foreign Language Materials or Foreign Language Learning from our Services and Research pages that you have access to through our website, our super nifty new Orion Starblast 4.5 Astro Reflector Dobsonian Telescope, or one of our neat Science To Go Kits from our Unusual Stuff to Borrow collection.

A Hero for WondLa

Eva Nine has never met another human before. Then out of nowhere a teenage boy descends from the sky in a rusty old airship and whisks her and Rovender, her non-human guardian, away to New Attica, the hidden human city. Has Eva finally found her home in this technology-managed paradise? Why aren’t there any non-humans in the city? And why does her new friend Hailey seem like he is hiding something from her?

A Hero for WondLa brings us back to Orbona, a wild and wonderful world born from the ashes of a dormant planet. Tony DiTerlizzi, author of The Spiderwick Chronicles, mixes a quirky cast of characters, beautiful illustrations, and the "girl in a strange land" formula to create a story reminiscent of L. Frank Baum's famous Land of Oz series combined with The City of Ember.

A Hero for WondLa is the second book of a trilogy. The WondLa series has garnered some hot buzz, and rumour has it that a film adaptation is already in the works!

Unsolved Mystery....Solved?

Eerie coincidences, unexplained voices coming through television sets, cryptic, even rambling messages appearing as if out of nowhere embedded in seemingly impossible parts of city streets...somebody knows something about the Toynbee tiles, but nobody's talking....

For decades, people have been happening upon hundreds of these mysterious tiles in cities as far west as Kansas City, as far north as Boston, and as far south as Santiago, Chile. Yes, even Detroit has a few, though it's not really clear if both are still there or if they've been paved over. All have a variation of the same message:

Toynbee Idea
in Kubrick's 2001
Resurrect Dead
on Planet Jupiter

But what do they mean? Who put them there and how? Who is Arnold Toynbee, and what does he have to do with 2001: A Space Odyssey? Are the Toynbee tiles messages from aliens? Time travel blueprints? Paranoid and even anti-Semitic rants? 9/11 predictions? Just another form of street art?

Like a lot of people, I'd never heard of this mystery before. I stumbled upon it just as if it was a Toynbee tile itself when I checked out the fantastic 2011 documentary, "Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles." Deliciously creepy, even spine-tingling at times, with otherwordly music and strangely-lit interviews with colorful characters, this film does a great job of explaining the phenomenon...and just might even solve it. Originally a Kickstarter project, the film went on to receive several accolades including Best Director at the Sundance Film Festival. If you plan to watch, I'd recommend staying away from Wikipedia beforehand as it could ruin a bit of the suspense-factor here. Those who remember the show "Unsolved Mysteries" and fans of "The X-Files" will appreciate the style of this documentary!

Melancholia, on DVD

Writer and director Lars von Trier’s latest film, Melancholia, is not just another “end of the world” movie, it’s also a story of the complex relationship between two sisters. A wedding reception at a lavish Scandinavian countryside home sets the scene for this dark and beautifully made film. Newlyweds Justine and Michael celebrate their nuptials at the home of Justine’s sister Claire and her scientist husband John. With their opinionated family members in attendance, including the girls’ mother who bad mouths all marriages, it makes for quite the melancholy reception. Kirsten Dunst portrays the deeply depressed bride so wonderfully that it appears effortless, which earned her the best actress prize at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.

The dreary state of the reception leads one to believe that the new marriage is doomed from the start. At the same time, the planet Melancholia is on a slow path towards earth, which has the sisters on edge as they try to comfort Claire's son and deal with Justine's illness while the giant blue planet's collision course taunts them. It is cinematically breathtaking and unsettling. I’m not usually a fan of films of an apocalyptic nature, but there’s something about this one. Perhaps he beauty helps balance the tension?

Titanic Inspired Fabulous Fiction Firsts #324

April 15, 2012 marks the centennial anniversary of the sinking of the RMS TITANIC on her maiden voyage. Locally, check out Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition at the Henry Ford Museum, running through September 30, 2012, as well as other related programs.

The media is feeding the renewed interest with high-profiled and pricy (£10 million) projects like Julian Fellowes' (creator of Downton Abbey) four-part miniseries called simply - Titanic that will premiere Saturday, April 14 (8:00-11:00 p.m., ET) on ABC. Like Downton, the focus is on the divide between the classes.

Not to be outdone, publishers have timed their release of 3 first novels inspired by this historic event.

The Dressmaker by DC political reporter Kate Alcott is a "vivid, romantic, and relentlessly compelling historical novel about a spirited young seamstress who survived the disaster only to find herself embroiled in the media frenzy left in the wake of the tragedy."

A highly-anticipated debut, The Lifeboat * by Princeton grad. (Architecture) Charlotte Rogan, (with glowing endorsement by Emma Donoghue, J.M. Coetzee, Hilary Mantel, Tim O'Brien and Valerie Martin) sets the scene in 1914 when a young and newly-minted heiress is on trial for her actions during the three weeks she spent on an overcrowded and under-provisioned lifeboat after an explosion at sea. A provocative, complex psychological drama that examines instinct and morality. Read the New York Times review and author interview.

"Time travel, airships, the Titanic, Roswell ...David Kowalski builds a decidedly original creature that blends military science fiction, conspiracy theory, alternate history, and even a dash of romance..." in his debut The Company of the Dead *, which promptly won 2 SciFi Awards when it was published in Australia in 2004.

In April 2012, Joseph Kennedy--nephew of John F. Kennedy, and a major in the Confederate army, is one of six people who can restore history to its rightful order -- even though it would mean his death, and the deaths of everyone he loves.

"Imaginative, monolithic, action-packed", "(a) magnificent alternate history, set against the backdrop of one of the greatest maritime disasters."

David Kowalski is an obstetrician and gynecologist living in Sydney, Australia.

* = Starred review

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