Author Birthdays: Awdry, Clampitt, Jacques

June 15th marks the birthday of authors W. Awdry, Amy Clampitt, and Brian Jacques.

W. Awdry was an English children's author and Anglican reverend. His best known works are those in the Railway Series, from which you may know Thomas the Tank Engine.

Awdry created the stories about the railway in order to comfort his young son Christopher, who had the measles. He wrote a total of 26 books in the series; he also wrote other books, but unfortunately, there are no copies available at Michigan libraries.

Amy Clampitt was an American poet who was first published at the age of fifty-eight. Her first collection, The Kingfisher, made her a known and respected poet in 1983.

Clampitt's fifth and last collection was Silence Opens, which Booklist called "dramatic and wry and always in motion." The collection focuses on crossroads, and includes a poem about the legend of Pocahontas.

Brian Jacques was an English writer most known for his Redwall series; all of the characters in Redwall are animals Jacques passed away due to a heart attack in February, but the last Redwall novel, The Rogue Crew, was released early last month.

Jacques wrote other series, including Castaways of the Flying Dutchman, based on the legend of the Flying Dutchman ship and its survivors, cursed with immortality.

Ben Franklin on Video

The Ben Franklin exhibit continues!

Obviously, there are many documentaries on Ben Franklin. One from the History Channel not only features Ben, it also has a snippet from the series Save our History. Another from the History Channel includes a small printed study guide. Ben is even the main subject of one of the discs of the channel's The Founding of America series.

There are also some more interesting DVDs we have that include Ben. Liberty's Kids, a chidlren's TV series from 2002 has Ben as one of its main characters. There is also a short Disney production based on the book Ben and Me.

Two characters that have been named after the real Ben are Benjamin Franklin Pierce, from M*A*S*H, and Benjamin Franklin Gates, from National Treasure.

My personal favorite is either the "Ben Franklin" episode of The Office, or the musical film 1776, starring Howard Da Silva as our beloved Ben.

TV Shows: It’s Time to Party Down

The 30 minute comedy Party Down features a group of six LA actors trying to break into the acting business but end up working as caterers for Party Down Catering. You can’t help but like the quirky, pessimistic characters as they handle each day, and still manage to work together as a team, pulling ahead as things go wrong and hilarity ensues. Each week features a new party (and eccentric clients) to prep for, as the crew mingles with guests and deals with their own mundane drama while they continue to look for acting work. The comedic styling of actors Ken Marino and Jane Lynch just make the show more insane.

The show comes from the same creator as Veronica Mars, and also shares some common actors, writers and directors. There is also crossover with actors, writers and directors from Freaks and Geeks and The State, so there’s solid comedic background. Party Down originally aired on Starz and was cancelled after two seasons, so this is all we get. Season one is now avaialble at AADL.

Author Birthdays: Chesterton, White, Ehrlich

May 29th marks the birthday of authors G. K. Chesterton, T. H. White, and Paul R. Ehrlich.

G. K. Chesterton was an English author. He wrote mysteries, essays, biographies, and general fiction. His works on Father Brown, a Catholic priest and detective, were even adapted for television in the 70s.

Chesterton also wrote a biography of his friend and "rival" George Bernard Shaw, and the novel The Man Who Was Thursday, which involves seven anarchists in London who give themselves the names of the days of the week.

T. H. White was an English author best known for his Arthurian works The Once and Future King and The Sword in the Stone. The musical Camelot and the Disney film The Sword in the Stone were based on his works.

White also wrote the children's story Mistress Masham's Repose, about an English orphan and her interactions with Lilliputians, a race of people described by Jonathan Swift in Gulliver's Travels.

Paul R. Ehrlich is an American writer and biologist, as well as a professor at Stanford University. His works focus on the environment and population growth. His latest book, The Dominant Animal: Human Evolution And The Environment, published in 2008, examines the relationship between the two.

Ehrlich's first big work was The Population Bomb, which discussed overpopulation and its effects on society. His later book, The Population Explosion, considers the topic further, more than 20 years afterward.

Glee at the Library!

After last week's Glee episode featuring Fleetwood Mac, their album Rumours shot to number four on our “hot CDs” list. If you’re getting impatient waiting in line, never fear! We have a host of other great Glee related items, including DVDs from Season 1, CDs and even books.

Be sure to get in line now for the new album from The Warblers, featuring University of Michigan graduate Darren Criss as Kurt’s dreamy boyfriend Blaine. Our copies should be in soon!

Want to hear other music featured on Glee? Try the original Rocky Horror Picture Show or the great popstar and frenemy of Brittany S. Pierce, Britney Spears. Our exclusive inside source (cough Wikipedia cough) tells us that Abba, Otis Redding and Amy Winehouse will be featured in upcoming episodes. And as for Rebecca Black? You’re on your own.

Do You Have Royal Wedding FEVER?!

If you're looking for a FUN way to view and celebrate the upcoming British willandkatewillandkateRoyal Wedding than be sure to join us at the Downtown Library this Friday @ 6:00 PM on the 4th Floor! We'll be televising the wedding itself - in case you missed it earlier in the day or want to re-watch - we will be serving tea, cookies and Wedding Cake! Come dressed in your Royal Best and you will have a chance to win Gift Certificates for best costume! Attendees will also have a chance to win a special floral arrangement created by Sweet Pea Floral.

Author Birthdays: Shakespeare, Marsh, Laxness

April 23rd marks the birthday of authors William Shakespeare, Ngaio Marsh, and Halldor Laxness.

William Shakespeare was and is probably the most well-known English poet and playwright in history. You may know him for writing Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Love's Labour's Lost, and Twelfth Night. Almost all of his plays have been produced on stage, in film, or both.

Shakespeare's lesser known works, though I feel silly saying that at all, may be some of his many histories, like Coriolanus, about a Roman leader; Troilus and Cressida, a story of the Trojan War; Cymbeline, about a legendary British king and his daughter; or The Life and Death of King John, about the famed signer of the Magna Carta.

Ngaio Marsh was a writer from New Zealand who is probably best known for her detective novels. Her name may also be familiar to those who watch the Inspector Alleyn Mysteries, since the show is based on her works about Roderick Alleyn.

Marsh also wrote short stories, which we have collected in Alleyn And Others: The Collected Short Fiction Of Ngaio Marsh. She wrote so many books that I don't know, really, which one to talk about, so I'm going with the best title: Killer Dolphin, an Alleyn mystery set in the Dolphin Theater.

Halldor Laxness was an Icelandic author and Nobel Prize winner. He wrote three rounds of stories that focused on the Icelandic people: Salka Valka, Independent People, and The Light of the World (also called World Light).

Laxness also wrote The Fish Can Sing, called by the publisher "a poignant coming-of-age tale marked with his peculiar blend of light irony and dark humor". It tells the story of an orphan who changes his dream of becoming a fisherman when he meets an Icelandic celebrity.

Hard Times in Detroit

If Chrysler’s recent commercial was about pride, HBO’s Hung is about perseverance. Ray Drecker (Thomas Jane) is the hometown high-school coach whose all-American charm and charisma are no match for the rotten luck and economic woes that seem to come with—and represent—life in the Detroit area. Ray’s life is, both literally and figuratively, falling down around him like the city he calls home. In desperation, Ray decides to try to make ends meet by making use of what an inspirational speaker calls his “winning tool.”

The title of the series might be a reference to Ray’s winning tool, but it also refers to Ray’s Sisyphean plight. His new business is at least as harmed as it is helped by his diametrically-opposed pimps; his reputation as a local sports hero and stand-up guy is at constant risk; and his small clientele (when he has one at all) is made up of an unfortunate collection of characters who are...exceedingly real.

Although its methods are both novel and risque (Parents: this is HBO evening programming), Hung is essentially about how good-meaning people end up backed into corners by circumstances beyond their control, and how the means by which they fight their way out of those corners can be both heartbreaking and hilarious.

Missed our Family Guy event? Enjoy the Podcast with Alex Borstein & Cherry Cheva!

If you're a fan of the TV show the Family Guy hopefully you were able to attend our special event with the only female writer on the show, Cherry Cheva and the voice of Lois, Alex Borstein back in November. If you missed the event or you were there be sure to listen to our special podcast interview with these two hilarious and edgy ladies! Alex used to be a writer on the show and it was blast chatting with the two of them about being the only women amongst a raunchy crew of male writers, how they got into comedy and what they're working on now. Cherry is also the is the author of two novels for teens Duplikate and She's So Money. She grew up in Ann Arbor and her family owns the Lotus and Marnee Thai restaurants. family guyfamily guy

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Author Birthdays: Giono, Cullen, Sharpe

March 30th marks the birthday of authors Jean Giono, Countee Cullen, and Tom Sharpe.

Jean Giono was a French writer and veteran of WWI. One of his later novels, Le hussard sur le toit, was made into a French film, The Horseman On The Roof, starring Juliette Binoche (whom you may recognize from Chocolat or The English Patient).

Giono's other novels include The Man Who Planted Trees (which is about, oddly enough, a man who plants trees), and The Solitude of Compassion, which Library Journal called "a throwback to a simpler place and time, when through communion with nature Giono sought to evade the harsh realities of his time".

Countee Cullen was an American poet and a part of the Harlem Renaissance, as well as the husband to the only child of W. E. B. Du Bois. He won more literary prizes than any other African-American writer of the 1920s.

Cullen's poetry is collected in a few volumes here at AADL. One, Caroling Dusk, includes works by other Harlem Renaissance writers, like Cullen's father-in-law. Another collection (of only his poetry) is My Soul's High Song, which Booklist has described as "as concerned with beauty as it was with commenting on racial problems; and his espousal of the loveliness of the poetic line and the prose sentence with social critique results in a beguiling iron-fist-sheathed-in-velvet-glove effect".

Tom Sharpe is an English satirist. His novel Porterhouse Blue was made into a short TV series. Set in an all-male college, it makes fun of Cambridge and many of the people who might go there.

Sharpe's works have been criticized by many, including Publishers Weekly, which deems his novels to be unappealing to an American audience because of their harsh and biting contents. One novel, The Midden, while laughing at aristocrats and the well-to-do, contains "exuberant slapstick comedy, a ridiculously high body count, and a no-nonsense British matron to sort through the whole mess", according to Booklist.

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