Midnight Clear, a subtle Christmas film

Sometimes folks get really excited about watching holiday themed movies this time of year, while others cringe at the mere thought of them, and wish to throw all copies of It's a Wonderful Life out the window. I fall somewhere in between.

I watched Midnight Clear about a month ago, which was perfect. As the title suggests, it does involve Christmas, but I like to call it "Christmas lite," as it's not an in your face fa la la la la film. It is a movie, and it just happens to take place on Christmas. In the film, the lives of five individuals converge in the most meaningful way. A down and out gas station attendant, a recently fired homeless man, a woman with a brain damaged husband, a youth pastor, and a lonely senior citizen each find a spark from the same flame that brings hope. It's a heart warmer that makes you think deeper about how small things can make a big difference.

Santa Live on CTN

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Santa will be taking calls LIVE from the North Pole via CTN Channel 17. That's right, kids. Just call 734.794.6155 on Thursday, Dec. 9, 6 ~ 8 p.m. and talk to Santa, Mrs. Claus and their helpful elf Graeme. I've got my list ready, how about you?

Author Birthdays: Dostoyevsky, Pound, Kimmel

October 30th marks the birthday of authors Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Ezra Pound, and Eric A. Kimmel.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky was a Russian writer, and is probably now best know for his novels Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov.

Among Dostoyevsky's other works are Notes from Underground, often considered the first existentialist novel, and The Idiot, which tells the story of a socially-outcast epileptic.

Ezra Pound was an early 20th-century American poet. As an expatriate, he lived in London, and later in Italy. During WWII he was imprisoned there for treason because of statements he made about FDR. During that time, he wrote The Pisan Cantos, which were later published as part of a larger work of 120 cantos.

Pound also wrote a long poem called Hugh Selwyn Mauberley. It is made up of 18 shorter poems, the first section of which is a sort of autobiographical epitaph. For more on this man's troubled life, you can read one of the many biographies we have on him.

Eric A. Kimmel is a Jewish-American children's book author. He won the Caldecott Honor and Newbury Honor for his picture book Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins, as well as the Sydney Taylor Book Award for The Chanukkah Guest and Gershon's Monster.

Kimmel does not only write picture books, nor does he do exclusively Jewish tales. He has many other folklore stories in his grasp, like the Russian Baba Yaga, the Norwegian Boots and His Brothers, and the Mexican The Witch's Face. Also, his story of The Gingerbread Man has been described as having a "strong narrative, good dialogue, and a fine chorus" by School Library Journal Review.

The Great Pumpkin Says Let's Be Safe This Halloween

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Trick-or-Treating in Ann Arbor will be from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. this Sunday, Oct. 31. So let's review our Halloween Safety Tips and get our little ghosts and goblins home safe, sound and oh-so happy. Don't forget the extra-special Halloween Story Times this Friday at the Downtown Branch.

Halloween in Ann Arbor, 1957

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Here are a few photographs from the Ann Arbor News archive to give you a taste of what Halloween was like in Ann Arbor 50 years ago. The first photo, below, is of a girl trying on a mask in a Main Street dime store. The second photograph is of a boy looking at candy. Both were taken on October 21, 1957. Does anyone recognize the store? Could it have been Kline's? Or maybe Kresge's?

The two photographs at the bottom are from the Burns Park School Halloween Parade in 1957: children marching in the parade ; and, my favorite, the Burns Park band playing in costume.

Curanderas: the Heart & Hand of Coatlicue

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Stop by the Multi-Purpose Room Downtown to view a colorful exhibit of the Heart and Hands of Coatlicue. This photo exhibit depicts Mexican & Mexican-American traditional healers and their mystic world. On November 1st the artists, Juan Javier & Gabrielle Pescador will discuss the history of Día de los Muertos, including a performance by a traditional Aztec Dance troupe directed by Estrella Torrez.

60 Year Anniversary of the First Peanuts Comic Strip!

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On October 2nd 1950, after many rejections, the first Peanuts comic strip was published in 7 newspapers. Just 2 years later the first Peanuts book was published. Over the years, the Peanuts have appeared on the New York Times Best Seller List with Happiness is a Warm Puppy. I personally always loved that book in particular. It takes you through a number of simple things that make people happy and reminds me of reading it at my grandmas house when I was little. The Peanuts were on the cover of Time Magazine in 1965. That same year, Charles Schulz even won an Emmy for outstanding children's programming for A Charlie Brown Christmas. In later years, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, You're a Good Sport Charlie Brown and Life is a Circus, Charlie Brown. By 1999, before his retirement, more than 2,600 newspapers worldwide were publishing the Peanuts. On February 12, 2000, the day before the final Sunday Peanuts comic strip ran, Charles Schulz died at the age of 77. New Peanuts strips are not being made however, many of these loved classics can be found here at the library. The library also offers a number of Peanuts DVD's such as: It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, A Charlie Brown Valentine, This is America, Charlie Brown and many more. Be sure to place holds early for the holiday books and DVDs because they lists grow quickly! I'm happy to see that even after 60 years people still love the Good Ol' Charlie Brown and the Gang!

National Book Festival 2010

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The National Book Festival takes place this Saturday, September 25, on the National Mall in Washington, DC, with honorary chairs, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, there to celebrate the NBF's 10th Anniversary. This year's festival promises to pull out all the stops, with the biggest authors and illustrators in the country talking about their craft and signing books throughout the day. Authors in attendance include the rapidly-buzzing Freedom writer, Jonathan Franzen, multiple Newbery Award winner, Katherine Paterson, Hunger Games Trilogy author, Suzanne Collins, Pillars of the Earth epic writer, Ken Follett, and many more. If you're not planning on heading down to the nation's capital this weekend, you can follow all the action online through webcasts and podcasts throughout the day.

International Nurses Day

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May 12th is International Nurses Day. The day was chosen in honor of the birthday of Florence Nightingale.

In celebration of all the wonderful care nurses give, you could watch a DVD, maybe something likeM*A*S*H, which focuses on a medical unit during the conflict in Korea, or you could watch the 1957 film version of Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms.

Or you could read a factual book. There are biographies on women like Florence Nightingale, Mildred MacGregor, and Clara Barton. There are also more general works, such as one on WWII nurses and even one or two on how to become a nurse.

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