“Growing Up” Sibert Medal Award Winners

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The Sibert Medal is awarded anually to authors and illustrators of the most distinguished informational book of the year. The award has been given out since 2001 to some of the loveliest non-fiction titles for youth and teens! Many are chock full of pictures, illustrations and words, designed to create higher interest in informational topics. Here are a few stellar examples of past recipients:

The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain: Peter Sis’ story is told in pictures, drawings, and memories of growing up in Czechoslovakia during the Cold War, and battling everything from Communism to the banning of rock music. This beautiful and charming book is a lighter way to read about and/or introduce a heavy topic.

Hitler Youth: Growing up in Hitler’s Shadow, by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, chronicles the story of the generation of youth (over 7 million boys and girls) growing up devoted to Hitler and the Nazi movement. It also includes voices of youth who were opposed to the movement, as well as those of targeted Jewish youths. Quite a deep and interesting look at the youth that was so effected during Hitler's Germany.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #149

Pictures at an Exhibition, a title borrowed from the familiar Mussorgsky's suite for piano, is an impressive debut by novelist Sara Houghteling.

Picture presents a realistic rendering of the world of Parisian art dealers before and after the Nazi occupation. Daniel Berenzon, who represents the likes of Matisse and Picasso in his prestigious Paris gallery flees to the South of France during the Occupation. Upon his return, he finds the gallery burned and the hidden masterpieces gone.

It is Rose Clément (drawn from the real-life Louvre curator Rose Valland, whose documentation helped repatriate thousands of paintings) who heroically aids Max (Daniel's son) in his desperate effort to recover the stolen art. (The 1964 film The Train was inspired by this historical footnote).

A Hopwood Awards winner, Houghteling received her Masters in Fine Arts from the University of Michigan and a Fulbright to study paintings that went missing during the war. Her vivid descriptions of paintings and their power add to the allure of the novel.

Readers interested in the Nazi looting of art treasures across Europe should check out Lynn Nicholas' The Rape of Europa: the fate of Europe's treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War or the documentation at the National Archive on the subject.

Impressive New Talent

In celebration of first time authors, a new Award is given out by ALA recognizing high quality teen lit. A couple titles that wowed the judges this year are, Curse Dark as Gold about a certain Jack Spinner, who can transform straw into gold and Charlotte Miller who works out a deal with Jack to save her family's mill. So much more going on than just a re-worked fairy tale. The Honor Titles for this award are, Me, the Missing, and the Dead, Graceling, Absolute Brightness, and Madapple

2009 Caldecott and Newbery Awards Announced

The American Library Association announced the winners of the Caldecott and Newbery awards this morning.
Neil Gaiman won the Newbery for The Graveyard Book. This was illustrated by Dave McKean.
House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson, illustrated by Beth Krommes won the Caldecott Medal.

Kadir Nelson won the author medal of the Coretta Scott King award for We Are the Ship. Floyd Cooper won the illustrator medal of the Coretta Scott King award for his illustrations of The Blacker the Berry, which was written by Joyce Carol Thomas.

For a complete list of all the winners and honor books, go here.

2009 Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson is this year's recipient of the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction.
This is the story of a young slave girl in New York City at the time of the American Revolution. She is owned by a Loyalist, but the Patriots offer her a chance at freedom if she spys for them. Isabel must figure out who she can trust.
The Scott O'Dell Award has been given annually since 1984 to outstanding children's historical fiction. Read your way through this list for a great look at American history.

January Movies

Bio pic Defiance is based on the true story of the Bielski brothers. After fleeing occupied Poland, they holed up in a forest in Belarus where they managed against terrific odds to create a coherent community which continued to fight the Nazis. Read Nechama Tec's Defiance: The Bielski Partisans (1993).

There is still time to catch the Golden Globes Award for Best Picture of the Year Slumdog Millionaire.

Part Dickensian drama, part romance and part life-affirming fantasy, this indie release follows an 18-year-old orphan as he recalls the experiences that took him from the slums of Mumbai to being just one question away from winning India’s version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” --- all for the love of a girl.

The Spirit is adapted from the graphic novels The Spirit Series by Will Eisner.

It tells the story of a rookie cop who comes back from the dead to protect the city he loves and the many women he loves more.

AAFF Goes Green, Sees Submissions Rise

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When the Ann Arbor Film Festival finished receiving submissions for this year's March 24-29 festival, they had collected works from over 40 countries that crossed every imaginable genre, with total submissions surpassing 2,600 films, up 25-percent from last year. In an effort to improve the festival's sustainability, the AAFF also waived the press kit component for filmmakers and requested eco-friendly packaging, such as paper cases and recyclable mailers. With the Oscar nominations being announced January 20 and awards given February 22, film auteurs and aficionados have some exciting events to look forward to throughout the cold months ahead.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #134

It is not everyday that a debut fiction is picked as a finalist of the National Book Awards.

Rachel Kushner's FFF Telex from Cuba* impressed a panel of distinguished judges as "a profound and lush evocation of 1950s’ Cuba".

"Though the chief observers are two keen-eyed American children, Kushner masterfully portrays the complex and varied forces of revolution through the perspectives of dictators, workers, the Havana underworld, the revolutionaries in the hills, and the Americans in denial that their colonial paradise is doomed."

Learn more about this fabulous newcomer to the literary fiction scene from a recent interview.

* = Starred Review

Tree Town in Top Ten Again

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Add Tree Town to another Top Ten list ... the Center for Digital Government and Digital Communities ranked the City of Ann Arbor the 7th Best Digital City in the country. The City's website was honored for the Citizen Request System, GIS resources, MyProperty, and TRAKiT, a new online service offering 24/7 lookup of permits, registrations and inspections.

Poet and Novelist Laura Kasischke Named 2008 United States Artist Fellow

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United States Artists (USA) is a grant-making, artist-advocacy organization dedicated to supporting America’s finest artists working across diverse disciplines.

Since its launch in September 2005 with $20 million in seed funding provided by a coalition of leading foundations, the USA Fellows program has been awarding unrestricted $50,000 grants to 50 artists each year.

Kasischke, an assistant professor in the University of Michigan MFA creative writing program, winner of 4 Pushcart Prizes and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts has published books of poetry and novels.

Here is a complete list of the 2008 USA fellows.

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