Quirky Mystery Novels starring the Quirky Spellman Family

The Spellmans are not your ordinary family, nor are they your ordinary crew of private investigators. That’s right, the Spellmans are all in the family P.I. business.

Lisa Lutz’s series starts with The Spellman Files, which introduces us to the family, and centers around the rebellious Izzy, who at the age of 28 is obsessed with Get Smart, is sneaking out of windows, assuming false identities, and performing background checks on potential boyfriends. Eventually Izzy wants out of the business (like her lawyer brother David) and her mother gives her “one last case” before she is allowed to quit. Izzy is always into trouble, and her much younger sister Rae is following in her footsteps… until she goes missing, and Izzy finds herself on the other side of the interrogation table. Will Izzy be able to call it quits?

Mom is tailing Izzy, Uncle Ray always wears his lucky shirt, and keeps going on “lost weekends” requiring the family to hunt him down and bail him out of whatever insanity he got caught up in during his black outs. His namesake, young Rae, is addicted to sugar, when she gets grounded she is denied going on stake-outs, and she won’t do anything without being paid or negotiating first. Not your typical bunch! Follow Izzy and the zany Spellman family for more adventures in the laugh out loud Curse of the Spellmans, Revenge of the Spellmans, and coming soon is The Spellmans Strike Again. (Note: The Spellman Files, won a 2008 Alex Award, given annually to ten books written for adults that appeal to young adults age 12-18.)

Oscar-worthy Movies for Kids (or Kids at Heart)

The Animated Film category is always filled with children's movie nominations, but the really special kids' movies can hold their own against adult movies in the other categories. This year Up has been nominated for five Oscars, including best picture. It's a computer animation about an old man who rigs thousands of helium balloons to his house and floats away on an adventure.

If you like clay-mation you might be interested to know that the newest Wallace & Gromit film, the mysterious A Matter of Loaf and Death is nominated for best Animated Short Film. The Wallace and Gromit films are always big hits at the Academy Awards. The Wrong Trousers, A Close Shave, and the feature-length Curse of the Were-Rabbit (featuring the voices of Ralph Fiennes and Helena Bonham Carter) all received Academy Awards in previous years, and A Grand Day Out was nominated in 1990, but it lost to Creature Comforts, which is another clay-mation movie by the same filmmaker, Nick Park.

Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince is nominated for best cinematography. The Harry Potter films have not yet won any Oscars despite their wild popularity and six past nominations. Neil Gaiman's Coraline, featuring the voices of Dakota Fanning and Teri Hatcher is nominated for best animated feature film. Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Princess and the Frog both earned Oscar nominations too, but they won't hit library shelves until March, so don't forget to place your holds on them after they're ordered because they are sure to be popular.

2010 Edgar Award nominees

The Mystery Writers of America proudly announce 2010’s nominees for the Edgar Award. The Edgar is given annually to the best in mystery fiction. This year’s Best Novel nominees include: The Missing by Tim Gautreaux, The Odds by Kathleen George, The Last Child by John Hart, Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death by Charlie Huston, Nemesis by Jo Nesbø, and A Beautiful Place to Die by Malla Nunn. The nominated novels offer a variety of subject matter for the avid mystery reader.

Nesbo is the only Scandinavian in the lot, and the last time a Scandinavian author won this award was 1971’s The Laughing Policeman. See here for a list of Edgar Award nominees in other categories. The winners will be announced on April 29.

2010 Caldecott and Newbery Awards Announced

The 2010 Caldecott and Newbery awards were announced in Boston on Monday.
The Caldecott medal was awarded to Jerry Pinkney for his rendition of The Lion and the Mouse.
Caldecott Honors went to Marla Frazee for illustrations of All the World by Liz Garton and to Pamela Zagarenski for her illustrations of Red Sings from Treetops by Joyce Sidman.
The Newbery medal was awarded to Rebecca Stead for her novel When You Reach Me.
Newbery honor books are Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose, The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly, The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick and Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin.

The 2010 Reading List Awards

Reading ListReading List

The Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) of the American Library Association has announced its selection for the 2010 Reading List.

The Reading List annually recognizes the best books in eight genres. This year’s list includes novels that will please die-hard fans as well as introduce new readers to the pleasures of genre fiction. The winners are:

Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child (Adrenaline)
Lamentation by Ken Scholes (Fantasy)
Agincourt by Bernard Corwell (Historical Fiction)
Last Days by Brian Evenson (Horror)
A Beautiful Place to Die by Malla Nunn (Mystery)
What Happens in London by Julia Quinn (Romance)
The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (Science Fiction)
Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani (Women's Fiction)

Trigiani happened to be in the audience during the annoucement. Here is her wild and excited reaction...

2010 Printz Award winners

Printz MedalPrintz Medal

The following Printz titles were announced at ALA Midwinter in Boston:

2010 Printz Award Medal
Going Bovine by Libba Bray
Can Cameron find what he's looking for? All 16-year-old Cameron wants is to get through high school - and life in general - with a minimum of effort. It's not a lot to ask. But that's before he's given some bad news: he's sick and he's going to die. Which totally sucks. Hope arrives in the winged form of Dulcie, a loopy punk angel/possible hallucination with a bad sugar habit. She tells Cam there is a cure - if he's willing to go in search of it. With the help of a death-obsessed, video-gaming dwarf and a yard gnome, Cam sets off on the mother of all road trips through a twisted America into the heart of what matters most.

2010 Printz Honor books:
Charles and Emma: the Darwins’ leap of faith by Deborah Heligman

Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

Punkzilla by Adam Rapp

Tales of the Madman Underground by John Barnes

2010 Scott O'Dell Award for Children's Historical Fiction Announced

The 2010 Scott O'Dell Award for children's historical fiction has been announced. The winner is author Matt Phelan's graphic novel The Storm in the Barn.

This is the story of a young boy in Kansas during the worst of the Dust Bowl era, around 1937. It's partly a family story and partly a coming of age story with a bit of fantasy thrown in.

Take a look at this one. It deserves the award medal.

Sassy, Swashbuckling Hotdog Vendor of the Big Easy

A Confederacy of Dunces is classic novel which takes place in New Orleans. Resplendent in plaid, Ignatius J. Reilly is our hefty hero. He is full of empty threats and hot air (literally), and lives a life committed to "theology and geometry" and the "occasional cheese dip". This Picaresque novel follows his absurd exploits, which end in disaster and hilarity. John Kennedy Toole's writing is effortlessly funny and subtly socially aware, and will appeal to a broad audience.

The novel was published in 1980, eleven years after Toole's death, and won him a posthumous Pulitzer in 1981. Despite repeated attempts, the story has mysteriously resisted being made into a feature film. Perhaps Ignatious C. Reilly is a character better left to our imaginations.

AADL owns several copies of A Confederacy of Dunces, including large print and BOCD formats.

Booklist's Top 10 First Novels and Fabulous Fiction Firsts #188

Of Booklist's Top 10 First Novels 2009, 5 of them were blogged here. (Dream House, A Fortunate Age, The Invisible Mountain, Miles from Nowhere, and Precious). Quite a number of them are sitting on the shelves. Perhaps you would give them a second glance now.

And I happened to have just finished a 6th on the list - Grace Hammer : A Novel of the Victorian Underworld by Sara Stockbridge – a gripping and captivating debut novel set amidst the squalor of London’s East End where Grace makes a comfortable living managing her brood of pickpockets. Out of the blue, her checkered past is about to catch up with her. A magnificent ruby necklace might spell her doom. “Fast-paced, racy”, with plenty of intrigue, local color and masterfully realized characters.

Clearly, those folks at Booklist know how to pick them! Highly recommended by my good friend Jen Baker who knows her historical thrillers.

U-M creative writing alum to speak Friday

On Friday at 4 p.m., author and Nigerian priest Uwem Akpan -- a 2006 graduate of the U-M MFA creative writing program -- will speak at Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library about his debut short story collection, Say You're One of Them, which won a 2009 Oprah book award. The five stories in the book, set in five separate African countries, reflect the wisdom and resilience of children, even in horrible circumstances. At U-M, the author is a former Career-in-the-Making Fellow in the Institute for the Humanities.

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