'1Q84'

Recently, I've read several books that were good enough to recommend: Stephen King's 11/22/63, Lev Grossman's The Magician King, and Pascal Girard's Reunion, to name a few. The problem is that none of those books come as close to, well, perfect, as 1Q84.

To be fair, I haven't actually finished Haruki Murakami's "1Q84" yet, but this is because the process of reading it cannot be rushed. I'm going to go out on a corny limb here and actually put this next sentence in print. Reading "1Q84" is the literary equivalent of watching a flower bloom. The plot unfolds slowly, the direction of the book is kept mysterious, and the reader is drawn in to see what will happen next. The writing is wildly eloquent and the characters are fascinating. Only halfway through this book it already surpasses everything I've read since Jeffrey Eugenides Middlesex.

The story begins with the introduction of Aomame, who steps down a ladder and enters a parallel universe. Next, the story sits down with Tengo, a man who can write lyrically, but cannot create a story in which to lyricize. Soon afterward the audience is shown Fuka-Eri, a nearly monosyllabic teenage girl with wisdom beyond her years and a past she won't explain.

'Dead End in Norvelt'

Handed to me late last year by a savvy children’s librarian, Dead End in Norvelt, by Jack Gantos, surpassed my wildest hopes for a good read. Imagine my delight in January when the novel -- written for ages 10 and up -- won the American Library Association’s 2012 Newbery Award for the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children, plus the 2012 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction!

This fabulous story is the "entirely true and the wildly fictional" story of the author’s childhood, unfolding in historic Norvelt, Pennsylvania, during the summer of 1962, as the narrator awkwardly turns twelve. “Eccentric” is not too strong to describe his family and his adorable, elderly buddy, Miss Volker, the town historian who helps Jack with his nosebleeds, while also teaching him valuable life lessons about humans, tenacity, and love. The writing in the novel is seamless, while the story manages to be both heartwarming and hilarious. Comedian Dave Barry praised the book as “brilliant . . . full of history, mystery, and laughs. It reminded me of my small-town childhood, although my small town was never as delightfully weird as Norvelt.”

Teen Novel Soars On Wings of Quirkiness, Love and Friendship

If you are sick and tired of reading – or even just hearing about – teen novels centered on vampires, zombies, suicide, and alienation, here’s a fresh and extremely worthwhile alternative: The Summer I Learned to Fly, by Dana Reinhardt.

The star is Drew Robin Solo, sometimes known as Birdie, a cautious and loner-ish adolescent trying hard to separate from her ADD mom who runs a trendy cheese shop in a sleepy town on the California coast. Drew has a pet rat, her dead father’s Book of Lists, and a big crush on Nick, the surfer guy who works at the cheese shop. The sweet, steady, engaging action of this novel takes place the summer Drew is going into eighth grade. When Drew meets enigmatic Emmett Crane in the alley behind the cheese shop, her life changes subtly and enormously, as she moves swiftly towards more confidence and the first real friendship of her life.

I couldn’t put this coming-of-age novel down until all 216 pages had been flipped. Now I’m eager to read Reinhardt’s other books, The Things a Brother Knows, How to Build a House, Harmless, and A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life.

aadl.org: Down for Upgrades on Monday!

As all AADL locations are closed monday for our annual staff training day, we're taking the opportunity to roll out some upgrades to aadl.org. In the process, aadl.org will be unavailable most of the day Monday. We've set it up so that nothing is due on Monday, so take a day off from managing your AADL account and relax as we implement some long-awaited new features! You can get a sneak peek at http://usability.aadl.org, or as always don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns before or after the upgrades. Thanks for your patience, and thanks for using the Library!

Idol is Back!

American Idol returned to television this week with the first rounds of auditions for season 9. It's hard to believe the show has been on for that long! I only started watching a couple years ago, but Idol is strangely addicting, and no matter how many times I'm told that it's silly, that it's rigged, etc., I just can't turn the TV off. Not in the American Idol spirit yet? Get prepared for this new season (minus Paula, plus Ellen, and said to be Simon's last!) by checking out the latest albums from past Idol winners and contestants:

Season 1 winner Kelly Clarkson: All I Ever Wanted
Season 4 winner Carrie Underwood: Play On
Season 5 finalist Chris Daughtry: Leave This Town
Season 8 runner-up Adam Lambert: For Your Entertainment

And if you’re feeling nostalgic for the “good old days”, here are a few lesser-known Idol contestants you might recall: Bo Bice, Fantasia, Kimberley Locke, Elliott Yamin.

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose

The extraordinary story of an unsung hero of the Civil Rights movement, Claudette Colvin, is told in this informational and inspirational book that is a National Book Award nominee.

Welcome Precious by Nikki Grimes

Welcome Precious is a poetic tribute to life and its wondrous pleasures by award winning author Nikki Grimes. The illustrations by Brian Collier are stunning.

Dancing Fun!

Imagine the grace and creativity of three recent University of Michigan's Department of Dance graduates. Now add the joy and spontaneity of children in grades Kindergarten through Third. A perfect recipe for a splendid afternoon with Adventures in Movement at the Traverwood Branch on Monday, August 10 at 2:00 pm. I can't wait to join in the fun with Jumping Off the Bandwagon!

Silent Music: A Story of Bagdad by James Rumford

Ali wants to be a master calligrapher like Yukat, a famous calligrapher who went to a high tower to practice when the Mongols attacked Iraq. As bombs fall upon Iraq once again, Ali like Yukat uses calligraphy to escape the horror of war. Readers experience how Ali feels when the word WAR flows from his pen but the word PEACE struggles to get on the page. A compelling and heatbreaking look into the life of a child of war.

July 4 - Independence Day Action

4th of July is "Independence Day".
Celebrate "Independence" by learning personal stories of people who have stretched the definition of civil liberty in US history.
Our Children Can Soar
Madame President
Elizabeth Leads The Way
American Heroes: Robert Smalls
River Of Words: Story Of William Carlos Williams
Boy Named Beckoning:True Story of Dr. Carlos Montezuma

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