Teen Book: Everybody Sees the Ants

In A.S. King's Everybody Sees the Ants, the narrative voice belongs to fifteen-year-old Lucky Linderman, bullied by a peer and surrounded by kind but ineffective adults. No one stands up for Lucky, not even his mom and dad, whose marriage seems to be unraveling. To complicate matters, in his recurring dreams, Lucky is trying to save his POW-MIA grandfather―his father's father―who was left behind in Vietnam. Through all these difficulties, Lucky tries to act as though everything is fine, even when the bullying gets worse and his mother takes him to her brother's house in Arizona. There Lucky catches his breath, learns to lift weights, and finally finds some strong, helpful friends.

The story skillfully blends realism with a touch of magic. As he struggles for traction at home and in his community, Lucky's voice is by turns angry, confused, funny, and heartbreakingly self-perceptive. There are resolutions for his troubles that are satisfying and entirely believable. In this memorable coming-of-age story, a fascinating and complex young man manages to pull himself together and to find an emotional path toward adulthood.

Recommended to me by members of a young-adult book group, the novel, for grade nine and older, rates very strongly in my book for characters, plot, writing and verisimilitude (the quality of seeming true to life). A.S. King won the Printz Honor for her book Please Ignore Vera Dietz.

Max And Whit Alexander Discuss Their New Book "Bright Lights, No City: An African Adventure On Bad Roads With A Brother And A Very Weird Business Plan "

Thursday August 9, 2012: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Traverwood Branch: Program Room

At 47, Whit Alexander, the co-founder of the Cranium board game, decided to start a new business selling affordable goods and services to low-income villagers in Ghana. His brother, Max, a journalist, came along to tell the story. Neither anticipated how much of an adventure they'd find, and how many challenges they'd encounter on the path to success, from deadly insects and insane driving conditions to voodoo priests and ethnic rivalries!

Join us as Max and Whit Alexander make a special visit to Traverwood Branch to discuss their adventures and the resulting new book "Bright Lights, No City: An African Adventure On Bad Roads With A Brother And A Very Weird Business Plan."

A book signing will follow and books will be on sale at the event.

Hey! You found SOMETHING HIDDEN! And here it is: CRANIUMGERANIUM

Amazon Bestseller: Reason to Breathe

Currently #7 on the Amazon Best Sellers in Teen Books is Reason to Breathe (The Breathing Series #1), by Rebecca Donovan The Amazon description calls the novel "an electrifying page turner from start to finish, a unique tale of life-changing love, unspeakable cruelty, and one girl’s fragile grasp of hope." The novel incorporates a number of musical references. "I inserted descriptions of music throughout the entire book," the author writes on her webpage. "At times, it was a specific band and/or song, other times it was just a genre." Donovan's "unofficial soundtrack" for Reason to Breathe includes the song Only by the musical group Nine Inch Nails.

Action + Dystopia + Romance = "Divergent"

Check out Divergent, Veronica Roth's first young adult book, and like me, you may find yourself staying up way too late reading it. Exciting and dystopian, this book may remind you of The Hunger Games, although it also manages to hold its own weight in the world of contemporary teen literature. Divergent was written for age 14 and up.

The novel is set in Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, where sadly, Lake Michigan has become a swamp, but some trains are still running. Society is divided into five factions: Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). All sixteen-year-olds, including Beatrice, must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. In the vicious initiation process for her selected faction, Beatrice struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out choices. Everyone undergoes extreme physical and psychological tests, including disorienting computer simulations. "Tris" -- her new name -- is small but mighty, as she decides who her friends are and tries to save her family. Her love interest, Tobias, is fascinating and mysterious. Readers will be left wondering where this relationship can possibly lead in such a dangerous world.

This is the first book in the “Divergent” series. The next installment is Insurgent, in which, according to Publishers Weekly, "the novel's love story, intricate plot, and unforgettable setting work in concert to deliver a novel that will rivet fans of the first book."

Youth Historical Novel: "The Lions of Little Rock"

While researching The Lions of Little Rock, author Kristin Levine zeroed in on 1958 when Little Rock, Arkansas, was starting to react to forced integration of the public schools. By setting her novel at that time, she gives it a compelling undertone, as readers witness the governor closing the high schools and citizens forming groups such as the Women's Emergency Committee to Open Our Schools (WEC).

This historical novel for youth offers dynamic characters and plot, starring painfully shy twelve-year-old Marlee. Readers will be moved when Marlee bids good-bye to her beloved older sister who is sent away for high school. Left at home, Marlee struggles to make friends, when suddenly an unexpected friendship with a new girl, Liz, boosts her confidence and helps her to understand where she stands in the fight against racism. I found Levine's book informative, warm, and highly entertaining. Reviews have been strongly positive, including this from the New York Times Book Review: ". . . Satisfying, gratifying, touching, weighty — this authentic piece of work has got soul." Levine also wrote The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had, an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults.

National Library Service in Novel Form

The novel Liberty Lanes by Robin Troy is a mostly lighthearted story of a group of elder residents in a small Montana town whose lives intersect through their three-times-a-week bowling league and their meeting a young reporter from a local newspaper. It’s a good read for the active social lives of the characters and how their friendships help them navigate one man's experience with the initial stages of dementia, relations with grown children, and budding romances. It also includes a first reference that I’ve come across to a character who is blind named Alastair who receives talking books from the National Library Service at the Library of Congress, which is what the Washtenaw Library for the Blind & Physically Disabled is all about. After all is said and done, not a line is bowled, but lines on friendship are on full display.

New United Way 2-1-1 Online Database

Find community assistance and support groups for Metro Detroit with the United Way of Southeastern Michigan's online database. Enter your zip or nearest city then search for services by category, keyword, agency or program. The database currently features 2000 agencies in Lapeer, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties. Click to apply if you are a service provider that would like to be included.

Video: Being Homeless In Washtenaw County: A Panel Discussion With The Washtenaw Housing Alliance

Did you know that 2,756 people will experience homelessness within a year in Washtenaw county? 26% are families and 41 people in the county in any given week become homeless. Last February, AADL hosted a panel discussion with the Washtenaw Housing Alliance (WHA). Watch the video of the panel discussion and learn about the innovative partnerships that have been created to address the need and the next steps needed to end homelessness in our community.

AADL Talks To David Fenton

While he was in town during the 40th anniversary of the John Sinclair Freedom Rally, we had the chance to sit down with David Fenton, CEO and founder of fenton.com, about his time in Ann Arbor during the late 1960s and early 1970s. During these years David lived at the Hill Street Commune, worked on the Ann Arbor Sun, and helped with the campaign to free John Sinclair. David discusses Sinclair's influence on his personal and professional life; reflects on the excesses - both good and bad - of the countercultural movement as he experienced it, and its legacy 40 years later in its modern counterparts, including moveon.org and the Occupy Wall Street movement.

David also participated in our panel discussion, Culture Jamming: A Long View Back.

Attachment Size
AADL_Talks_To-David_Fenton.mp3 24.8 MB

Culture Jamming: A Long View Back - A Panel Discussion With John Sinclair, Leni Sinclair, Pun Plamondon, David Fenton, and Genie Parker

On December 10, 2011, the 40th anniversary of the John Sinclair Freedom Rally, AADL invited former White Panther Party and Rainbow People's Party members John Sinclair, Leni Sinclair, Pun Plamondon, David Fenton, and Genie Parker to the Michigan Union for a panel discussion moderated by Professor Bruce Conforth of the University of Michigan Program in American Culture. These five panelists, central to the actions and ideals surrounding Ann Arbor's late-1960s counter-culture, reflect on what they called their "total assault on culture" during the late 1960s and early 1970s - what worked, what didn't, and what it means today.
View the video here or in other formats.

Photograph courtesy of Barbara Weinberg Barefield.
(Click image for a larger view.)

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