AXIS Coffehouse Returns

Coffee DragonCoffee Dragon

Rejoice, poets and poetry fans! AXIS Coffehouse returns from winter break this Friday, January 8th at 6:30 pm, with more books, more snacks and more fine forgiveness coupons than ever before.

For those of you who are new to the program, AXIS Coffeehouse is space where you can hang out and share poetry in a comfortable and laid-back environment. Read your own work, or someone else's, and you get free goodies, including $5 fine forgiveness coupons!

So, whether you're new to AXIS Coffehouse or not, come on down to Malletts Creek this Friday for an evening of poetry and fun. Feel free to bring a friend.

Teen Stuff: A Series by Henning Mankell

Best selling Swedish author Henning Mankell is known for his slew of adult mystery novels, including the popular Kurt Wallander series. He has also written a few teen titles, including a series about a boy named Joel Gustafson and his father living in Sweden in the late 1950s. The story begins with A Bridge to the Stars, where the curious and imaginative wannabe sailor Joel is nearly twelve and is meeting new friends and looking for new adventures while dealing with his father’s new love interest. He takes comfort in stories of the sea and befriends the town’s oddballs, including a local mad man who drives a lorry at night to stay awake, and an eccentric woman with no nose. Shadows in the Twilight, When the Snow Fell, and the most recent and series ender- The Journey to the End of the World, continue Joel’s story as he begins to grow, finds new challenges, and gets closer to adulthood.

Mankell is a master writer. He paints a wonderful image of snowy small town Sweden in these novels, and Joel is an adorable and fun character. As a fan of the Wallender series I was glad to read Mankell’s telling of Joel’s story in this laid back teen series. (For grades 6 and up.)

Youth Nonfiction Finds -- Guide to the Good Life

The Good LifeThe Good Life

Increased homework? Video-game violence? Whatever the cause, recent studies show that kids today are more stressed and anxious than they were fifty years ago, or even last year. Fortunately, with a little help, stress and anxiety can be managed, and the youth department has plenty of books with suggestions to combat stress and live the good life.

Dr. Thomas McIntyre's book, The Behavioral Survival Guide for Kids, provides detailed, comprehensive information on a variety of issues -- building self-esteem, getting along with teachers, managing feelings, making friends, running for President...ok, that last one wasn't included. But other than that, this book has everything.

For those who like more specific advice, Patti Kelley Criswell's books offer excellent suggestions for managing all the ups and downs of friendship -- from making friends and having fun with friends, to making up after fights with friends. Younger readers may enjoy Peaceful Piggy Meditation, a simple guide to the practice and benefits of centering meditation.

Breathe deep, read good books and have a relaxing holiday season. Namaste!

Fifteen Minutes of Fame -- Teen Magazine Update

Epic MickeyEpic Mickey

From Mickey Mouse to Jay DeMerit, from Hiroshi Watanabe to William Gibson -- this month's teen magazines are filled with the faces of the famous, or the infamous, depending on your perspective.

Soccer America Magazine features some teams in the news right now -- the qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Good news, the U. S. is one of them. Bad news, we have a lot of tough opponents before we make it to the finals.

This month's Giant Robot Magazine is absolutely stuffed full of interviews with famous people, from the aforementioned author William Gibson, writer of cyberpunk classic "Neuromancer" and inventor of the word "cyberspace," to Korean extreme horror filmmaker Kim Jin-Won.

Game Informer Magazine brings us a famous face with new twist -- Disney favorite Mickey Mouse is showing his darker side in new Wii game "Epic Mickey". The magazine also covers how the popular Prince of Persia video game will be getting the star treatment as a movie starring Jake Gyllenhaal.

Youth Music Notes -- Wizard Rock

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The Ann Arbor District Library has been fortunate enough to host wizard rock bands Tonks and the Aurors and The Remus Lupins, but did you know that we also have a collection of wizard rock on CD -- that fans of all things Harry Potter can listen to whenever we want?

Harry and the Potters bring us the "good" side of wizard rock, their several CD's chock full of inspiring music to fight the Dark Lord by. Exactly what we expect from the co-founders of the Harry Potter Alliance. Have I mentioned that they also have a special Christmas CD? How...seasonally appropriate.

Representing the often overlooked Slytherin perspective, we have evil wizard rock band Draco and the Malfoys, with a collection of twelve heart-wrenching tunes to remind us that evil wizards are people too.

And, of course, for purists, we also have many authorized CD's of the Harry Potter movie soundtracks.

In the words of Harry and the Potters, "It's never too loud to read," so turn up the CD player and get ready to sing along to some quality wizard rock.

Nonfiction Finds -- Dream Interpretation

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For a very long time, we humans have been fascinated by our dreams. Mystics have found guidance, artists have found inspiration and psychologists have found insight through the study and analysis of dreams.

The library has great resources for all fledgling oneironauts. Patricia Garfield's "The Dream Book" is a great place to start, as is "Dreams" by Tucker Shaw, with psychological explanations for a variety of common dreams. "Teen Dream Power" and "Dream Journey" take it a step farther with tips on lucid dreaming and using dreams to improve your waking life.

Dreams are the ultimate undiscovered frontier, unique and mysterious, with rules of their own. So grab a book and a pillow, and get ready to sleep like you've never slept before!

AXIS Coffeehouse is Back

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Some of you may have noticed that AXIS Coffeehouse took a break last week for Halloween. Now trick-or-treating and costume parties are over for another year, and AXIS Coffeehouse is back at Malletts Creek for two more sessions before we go on winter break.

On November 6 at 6:30 pm, our writing theme will be "Tell the World What You Think" -- a chance to air your opinions on school, your family, the world, or whatever you want! The theme for November 13 (again at 6:30 pm) is "Tell the World What You are Thankful For" -- perfect preparation for the Thanksgiving Dinner toast. Of course, in both sessions you can write anything, read books, eat snacks, and present your own writing or other people's to earn a host of goodies, including $5 fine forgiveness coupons.

Youth Stuff: When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead

When You Reach MeWhen You Reach Me

When You Reach Me is Rebecca Stead’s follow up to the acclaimed First Light, and it’s a good one, worthy of the Newbery Medal Award buzz that surrounds it. Miranda is a 6th grader living in New York City in 1979 with her mother. Her best friend Sal stops talking to her one day, and then she starts receiving mysterious notes predicting the future. So on top of day to day city living, being a latch key kid of a single mom (who is trying out for The $20,000 Pyramid), squabbling with other girls in her class, and having a slight crush on a boy, she has to figure out who is sending these notes and why. She finds it soothing to carry around a beat up copy of A Wrinkle in Time, and eventually has a rather interesting conversation on time travel with the new kid on the block. In the end Miranda figures it all out.

I liked the nostalgia in this book. I liked the setting, a few of the characters, the laughing man, the bit of time travel involved. I do wonder about the idea of having A Wrinkle in Time play such an important role in the book, but at the same time I love how young Miranda finds a book so fantastic she has to read it over and over and carry it around with her.

Teen Stuff: Cool fiction titles by Jenny Valentine

JennyValentineJennyValentine

Me, the missing, and the Dead, which won The Guardian Children's Fiction Prize (under the title “Finding Violet Park”), is told from the point of view of 16 year old Lucas Swain. His father went missing five years ago and he now lives in a tension-filled house in London with his mother and two siblings. The book centers around his friendship with a dead lady he finds in a taxi cab office. A dead lady named Violet Park who resides in an urn, to be exact. Everything in this book happens by chance and is fueled by coincidence. Lucas believes he was lead to Violet in order to figure out what happened to his father. He learns a lot about himself, his family, life, and loss through the course of this fantastic book.

Jenny Valentine’s follow up novel, and not to be missed, is Broken Soup, which also has similar themes of grief, family, friendship, and love.

Teen Stuff: Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The U.S. as we know it has fallen. Now, 12 North American districts exist in its place, each serving only to support the oppressive Capitol district, which every year requires 2 tributes (aged 12-18) from each district to participate in a televised battle royale called the Hunger Games, a fight to the death that will leave only one teen alive.

Enter Katniss Everdeen, a 16 year old girl from the poorest district, who makes the ultimate sacrifice in choosing to participate in the Games in place of her younger sister. A sharpshooter bow hunter and expert tree climber, Katniss must rely on her hunting skills in order to survive the lethal attacks from the other tributes. Violently bloody from the start, Hunger Games pulls no punches, yet it speaks to the plight of children suffering during wartime, a timely if not innocuous theme. The sequel, Catching Fire, will be released on September 1, 2009.

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