Bring in the New Year!

Get ready to bring in the new year! Come to the Pittsfield Branch on Tuesday, December 31, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. to make hats and noisemakers for your
celebration. This is for kids pre-school through 5th grade but everyone is welcome.
All supplies will be provided.

For other ideas for keeping kids busy, click here.

An Award Winner For Teens - Tragedy, Humor, and Hope

I checked out a copy of The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen when I heard it had won the 2013 Canadian Library Association Book of the Year for Children Award as well as the Michigan Library Association's 2013 "Thumbs Up" Award. As the jacket states, "Thirteen-year-old Henry's happy, ordinary life comes to an abrupt halt when his older brother, Jesse, picks up their father's hunting rifle and leaves the house one morning. What follows shatters Henry's family, who are forced to resume their lives in a new city, where no one knows their past. When Henry's therapist suggests he keep a journal, at first he is resistant. But soon he confides in it at all hours of the day and night."

Inspired by a line in Wally Lamb's The Hour I First Believed, and based around bullying and school violence, this was not as gloomy as I expected it to be. The author, Susan Nielsen, creates a unique, fresh perspective on a topic that is all too common in the news. The story is told from Henry's point of view through journal entries, and his narrative voice has all of the sweet, awkward, goofiness of a 13 year old boy. Although the subject matter is an unthinkable tragedy, the book is written with healthy layers of humor and joy mixed in. I read the whole thing in one sitting, and the characters are lingering with me days later. This young adult novel is worth reading, no matter what your age.

Over and Under the Snow

Over and Under the Snow is a cozy picture book written by Kate Messner and beautifully illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal. The book is the story of a day on a snowy cross-country ski trek in the woods where a father and child encounter many animals along their tree-lined journey. They find animals that live in “the secret kingdom,” which is “a network of small open spaces and tunnels between the snowpack and the ground.” Red foxes live over, while red squirrels live under. It’s a thoughtful story with beautiful and simple illustrations of the snow and animals on a wintry day. Perfect for sharing while sipping hot cocoa and looking out the window.

Learn about The Polar Express' Michigan Roots

How many of you knew that the classic picture book, The Polar Express, has Michigan roots? The book itself is based in Grand Rapids, which is where the author, Chris Van Allsburg, is from! The story starts out with a young boy who is feeling a bit sad because he’s not so sure anymore that Santa Claus is real. As he lies in bed on Christmas eve, waiting hopefully for the sound of Santa, he instead hears the sound of a locamotive! He hops out of bed and runs outside, only to find a gigantic train waiting for him, filled with other young children. Together, they set off on a Christmas eve adventure to the North Pole.

The Polar Express was also adapted into a film back in 2004, starring Tom Hanks. Did you know that the film, too, has Michigan connections? NPR recently did a story on the locamotive that the film makers used for direct inspiration. When making the movie, the film crew traveled all the way out to little Owosso, Michigan, in order to capture the magic that is the 400 ton Pere Marquette 1225!

“Finally, the train arrives: 16 feet tall, puffing huge blasts of steam. The smell of burning coal fills the air, and the ground literally shakes.”

Do you love The Polar Express? Click through the links in this blog post to place requests on the original book, DVD, or Blu-ray. In fact, if you or your little one are interested in some festive decorating during this holiday season, the AADL even has a Polar Express art print that you can check out and hang up on your walls at home!

The last installment of Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's beloved "Alice" series is now available!

Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, the author of the long-running, much-loved “Alice” series, has written the series’ final installment, Now I’ll Tell You Everything, available now. This book chronicles Alice from the ages of 18 to 60. It has been long-awaited by many of her fans that have been with Alice since she was nervously starting 6th grade at a new school in The Agony of Alice, first published in 1985.

Since The Agony of Alice, Naylor has published 28 total Alice books, including three prequels to the series geared towards younger readers. Over the course of the series, Alice navigates many of the challenges of growing up. The books often make the list of the American Library Association’s most challenged books due to their frank discussion of families, friendships, religion, dating and sex.

The recent publication of Now I’ll Tell You Everything has left many readers nostalgic. After “growing up with Alice,” knowing that Alice’s adventures are over is a difficult realization for devoted fans. Throughout her writing of the series, Naylor received thousands of letters and emails from these fans expressing their love of the books, sharing their stories and making suggestions for future Alice books (some of which Naylor actually used!).

The Alice books can be enjoyed by all ages. The earlier novels are appropriate for elementary school children, and readers can age along with Alice over time. Older fans who remember Alice from their youth can reread some of the books and now finally find out what the rest of Alice's life has in store for her.

The Snowman

Every winter, when I was little, I would get out one of my favorite books, The Snowman by Raymond Briggs. But I would not read this book – because there are no words – only pictures. These pictures tell a magical, yet simple story of a young boy who builds a snowman, only to wake up in the middle of the night and find that the snowman has come alive. The boy and his snowman get into all sorts of mischief during the night, from trying on his dad’s clothes to flying across the big night sky. This cozy story is ingrained in my memory to this day, and carries with it so much nostalgia!

This classic picture book is available in the AADL collection, not only in its traditional format, but now also in the reader format and as well as a movie on DVD.

The Historical House Series

If you have a young reader in your life who loves historical fiction, check out The Historical House Series. Written by Adèle Geras, Ann Turnbull and Linda Newbery, this unique series follows the lives and times of young women who live in the same house in London over a period of 200 years. Follow along as the young women meet famous people the likes of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, join in the fight with suffragettes to allow women the right to vote and watch the first moon landing! Each book is written from the perspective of the young girls and captures the enchanting stories of their dreams and determination, all while set in the colorful world of London.
Polly’s March by Linda Newbery
Lizzie’s Wish by Adèle Geras
Mary Ann & Miss Mozart by Ann Turnball
Andie’s Moon by Linda Newbery

Pirate Stories

Ahoy there, me hearties! Arrrrrgh! Perhaps you visited a preschool storytime recently where pirates stories were featured and are looking for more swashbuckling fun? AADL has a slew of picture books featuring pirates on grand adventures. Here are a few to set sail with:

Pirate Nap by Danna Smith
Shiver Me Letters by June Sobel
Pirates Don’t Take Baths by John Segal

Take a Hike @ Argo Nature Area

Thursday June 5, 2014: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Argo Nature Area

This event is intended for all ages

On World Environment Day, take a hike in this 22-acre linear park on the east side of the Huron River. An unpaved trail runs the length of the park along the river. The trail travels through two types of woods: basswood and willow in the southern half and black oak and shagbark hickory (and spring wildflowers!) in the northern half. The entire trail offers beautiful views of the river. A staff naturalist from Natural Area Preservation (City of Ann Arbor) will discuss native plants and trees, ecological restoration, and more.

Meet in the parking lot north of the Argo Canoe Livery, off Longshore Drive.

Chesstastic this Sunday, December 15

Sunday, December 15 | 1-4 PM | Traverwood Branch | Gr. K-Adult

What could be better on a cold winter afternoon than sitting down and playing a game or two of chess?! It’s as easy as dropping by Traverwood this Sunday December 15 between 1 and 4 p.m. We’ll help match you up with an opponent and then let the battle begin!

To hone your skills try these new titles Chess Tactics for the Tournament Player and Power Chess For Kids: More Ways to Think Ahead and Become One of the Best Players in Your School: Volume 2.

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