PreK Bits - Princesses and Pirates

Ms. Rachel told stories of Princesses and Pirates in honor of the letter "P".

PRINCESS PENELOPE's PARROT ... the Parrot and Penelope meet on her birthday.
We sang "The Pirate Song". You can find a version on the CD recording PETER PAN or see the lyrics and motions for "When I Was One" found on the website Macaroni Soup!..
PIRATE PETE's TALK LIKE A PIRATE is a requirement for being hired as crew.

For more stories of princesses and pirates, try the following titles:
PRINCESSES ARE NOT JUST PRETTY by Kate Lum.
The PRINCESS And The PEAS by Caryl Hart.
SHIVER ME LETTERS: a Pirate ABC by June Sobel
1001 PIRATE THINGS TO SPOT by Rob Lloyd Jones.
NO PIRATES ALLOWED! SAID LIBRARY LOU by Rhonda Gowler Greene.
OLIVE's PIRATE PARTY by Roberta Baker.
For more pirate songs try JAKE And The NEVERLAND PIRATES and SEVEN CLEVER PIRATES.
Sing along with Captain Bogg and the Pollywog crew on the CD recording PEGLEG TANGO.
Listen to "Ballad Of Dirty Joe" and more stories and songs, on Bill Harley's CD recording BLAH BLAH BLAH.
One of my all-time favorite stories is on this recording ... "Joey, Chloe And The Swamp Monster".
AarrrR ! ... and Enjoy!

Good Dream, Bad Dream

New to the shelves are several picture books relating to common childhood fears, specifically fear of the dark and of the unknown. In Good Dream, Bad Dream (Sueño Bueno, Sueño Malo) by Juan Calle and Serena Valentino, little Julio is afraid of the monsters under his bed. Julio's father reminds him that "for every bad dream, you can have a good dream to help defeat your fears", and Julio explores the different heroes who could rescue him from a variety of monsters. This exciting story features monsters and heroes from many different cultures presented in action-packed comic-style illustrations. Additionally, this bilingual book is written in both English and Spanish, making it accessible for speakers of either language.

Also new is The Problem with Not Being Scared of Monsters by Dan Richards. In this tale, the main character finds that he is not afraid of monsters at all! In fact, his monster friends may be getting just a little too comfortable. This funny book uses wacky illustrations and a non-traditional plot line to tackle common childhood fears. For additional stories on this subject, consider Light's Out by Arthur Geisert or Floop in the Dark by Carole Tremblay.

"It's All Write!" Contest Guidelines are now posted!

Teen writers interested in entering the "It's All Write!" Teen Short Story Contest may now view the 2015 Guidelines! The guidelines have all of the most important information about submitting to the contest.

The "It's All Write!" Teen Short Story Contest has now been running for 23 years! Last year received the largest number of submissions at 358 stories. Teens all over Ann Arbor, Michigan, and even across the world choose to participate each year.

"It's All Write!" will begin accepting submissions on Tuesday, January 27. For more information about the contest, please visit the contest homepage: http://www.aadl.org/events/itsallwrite

Happy writing!

Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future

“We form. We shine. We burn. Kapow.”

Printz Honor author A.S. King has done it again. Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future is superbly written and features a unique premise.

Glory is seventeen. Her mother commited suicide when Glory was just four years old. Her father is depressed and works from home on the couch. Her boy-obsessed best friend Ellie lives across the street in a hippie commune. She is about to graduate high school and our story begins at the end of her childhood.

One night something happens that allows Glory and Ellie to see a person's infinite past and future simply by looking at them. In this future there is a second civil war, women’s rights disappear, there’s a new tyrannical leader, a new army, and young girls vanish daily. Glory takes meticulous notes on what she sees hoping it will make a difference.

Glory is a fantasticlly written teen character. She is the odd-girl-out, a loner with no need for friends. She has her camera and the newly unlocked darkroom of her dead mother. And with the discovery of her mother’s old notebooks Glory learns mountains about herself and her family and how it all came to be, and it allows her to see a better future for herself.

Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall Comes to TV

Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell trilogy has been a historical fiction powerhouse - with both entries, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies becoming bestsellers and Booker Prize winners. The final book in the trilogy is underway, with no official release date at this time, although Mantel has shared details readers can expect to encounter in The Mirror and the Light.

Now Mantel’s epic is coming to TV. After assisting with the stage adaptation of her work by the Royal Shakespeare Company, Mantel signed off on a BBC adaptation, with the caveat that the show avoid historical errors and any ”nonsense” added for drama.

The six-part series will air on BBC2 in Britain later this year, with an PBS Masterpiece American release to follow. Fans of the Showtime series Homeland will be interested to see Damian Lewis (Nicholas Brody) in the meaty role of Henry VIII as part of the star-studded cast. An official trailer was just released, so fans can enjoy a quick peek to tide them over.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #504 - "This being human is a guest house... Be grateful for whatever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond." ~ Rumi

Award-winning filmmaker/artist Miranda July brings "(her) characteristic humor, frankness and emotional ruthlessness" to her debut novel The First Bad Man * * *. (Check out her short stories in No One Belongs Here More Than You that reviewers called "simultaneously bizarre and achingly familiar.")

Fortysomething Cheryl Glickman, managing director of Open Palm, a women's non-profit works from home at her bosses' suggestion. Tightly-wound and incredibly regimented, she lives alone and suffers from debilitating globus hystericus. Cheryl has been secretly in love with Phillip, one of her board members and fantasizes a sexual relationship. At times, she has reasons to hold out hope, until Phillip's tearful confessions.

When Cheryl's bosses ask if their 21 year-old daughter, Clee, can move into her house for a little while, Cheryl's eccentrically ordered world explodes. Gradually, Cheryl and Clee work out a bizarre arrangement in that they act out the staged scenarios in a series of women's self-defense videos, with Clee playing the part of the "bad man". Ultimately, it is the selfish and cruel Clee who bullies Cheryl into reality and, unexpectedly, provides her the love of a lifetime.

"Told in Cheryl's own confiding, unfiltered voice, the novel slides easily between plot and imagination, luring the reader so deeply into Cheryl's interior reality that the ridiculous inventions of her life become progressively more and more convincing."

Called "dazzling, disorienting, and unforgettable", The First Bad Man is a "spectacular debut novel that is so heartbreaking, so dirty, so tender, so funny...that readers will be blown away."

For open-minded readers ready for something new and unusual.

* * * = 3 starred reviews

Jane Smiley's Some Luck depicts americana beautifully

If you’re a Jane Smiley fan like me, you’ve been eagerly awaiting the publication of her newest novel, Some Luck, which is the first in a projected trilogy appropriately titled The Last Hundred Years. Smiley won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel A Thousand Acres, and similar to A Thousand Acres, Some Luck follows several generations of a twentieth century Iowa farm family. The book is broken up into 34 brief chapters, each marked with the start of a year, beginning in 1920 and ending in 1953. As expected, some major life events are recounted over this period, but I enjoyed Smiley’s poignant telling of the day-to-day activities and situations that come together to create a family and a life. Because of this, the pace of Some Luck is truly unique: I found myself eagerly turning each page, not because of any unresolved plot lines, but rather because the book follows the unexpected pacing of life itself.

“Smiley depicts isolated farm life with such precision that readers can understand exactly how little boys help their father shorten lambs’ tails, and how Rosanna copes when she must deliver her baby alone,” states the review of Some Luck in the Washington Post. Some Luck is far from just another Midwestern nostalgic farm novel, however. “Smiley’s version is weirdly bold in a different way, stubbornly telling the story with the same kind of unadorned (and sometimes unspoken) language its characters use,” writes the review.

If you’re unfamiliar with Jane Smiley but enjoy the works of Marilynne Robinson and Annie Proulx, I would highly recommend giving Some Luck, and other of Smiley’s works a try. Early Warning, the second book in the trilogy, will be published in 2015.

Royal Reads (and movies, too!)

The recent release of a great new imperial biography, Napoleon: A Life by Andrew Roberts, got me thinking that nothing could be more intriguing this wintry season than a little courtly intrigue! You don’t have to be a history buff to enjoy stories about rulers of old. So, here are some suggestions for other books and movies that compliment each other nicely.

Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne by David Starkey offers a terribly readable and riveting account of Elizabeth I’s early years – a fascinating chapter of history with a totally astonishing young ruler at its helm. For a stunning film experience, try Elizabeth with Cate Blanchett and it’s sequel Elizabeth, The Golden Age.

Eleanor of Aquitaine by Alison Weir, gives us a portrait of an educated, strong-willed ruler of her own lands as well as wife of two kings and a complicated family dynamic, to say the least. If you only have time for one film featuring this queen, The Lion in Winter is a must. With incredible performances from Katharine Hepburn and Peter O’Toole, this is a must regardless!

Turning to fiction books, why not try Abundance: A Novel of Marie Antoinette by Sena Jeter Naslund – lush and yet attentive storytelling from the perspective of this most infamous of queens. The movie Marie Antoinette with Kirsten Dunst offers eye candy galore in the form of sumptuous sets, costume, and cinematography, in addition to some experimental touches that keep things fresh. And, well, it’s hard to stick strictly to fiction here when the movie is based on such a good bio: Marie Antoinette: The Journey by Antonia Fraser.

Last but definitely not least, Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel chronicles the oh-so sticky politics of Henry VIII, seen through the sharp lens of his chief minister, Thomas Cromwell. Mantel endows this narrator with a bitingly intelligent voice that is exceedingly refreshing in the genre. I'm coming up short on films focusing on Cromwell’s perspective, but Anne of the Thousand Days focuses on the Boleyn side of the story, and A Man for All Seasons highlights Sir Thomas More’s role in the courtly goings on (both of which feature heavily in Wolf Hall).

Saving Simon: How a Rescue Donkey Taught Me the Meaning of Compassion

Simon the donkey was rescued by animal welfare officers in a raid on a farm in the middle of the night. Sunk in the mud, covered with lice, fleas and rat bites, his skin black with rain rot and unable to walk on his misshapen hooves, Simon hovered near death until Jon Katz, of Bedlam Farm fame, brought him home. Katz is well known for his many books about farm life and especially his dogs, donkeys and sheep. But rescuing Simon was to be the most difficult, and most blessed, experience he ever had with an animal.

Katz tells all in Saving Simon: how he restored Simon to health, how he struggled to understand and forgive the man who had abused the gentle donkey, how he came to feel a connection to Simon that felt spiritual and fore-ordained. Along the way, he also tells the story of acquiring Rocky, the 33-year-old, blind pony, and Red, his realio-trulio, meant-to-be-best-friends-dog. This is a complex and heart-breaking story, with much angst and depth and, ultimately, much reward. Basically, Jon Katz became a much better person through being friends with a donkey.

It turns out that donkeys are very special creatures and have a long association with humans. Many stories tell of this relationship (think Aesop, Sancho Panza, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jesus, and Juan Jimenez). Juan Ramon Jimenez was a Nobel Prize-winning poet who walked throughout the countryside and villages of Andalusia, Spain with his sweet, donkey-companion, Platero. His book Platero and I is a lyric contemplation of the good life and is considered a classic of Spanish literature. We own it here at AADL (in a Spanish/English side-by-side). Many others have written about the gentle, mystical and wise nature of donkeys; right now I am enjoying the book, The Wisdom of Donkeys: Finding Tranquility in a Chaotic World by Andy Merrifield. Who knew that donkeys, in spite of a long history of being over-worked, abused, and ridiculed were such evolved, forgiving and large-hearted friends?

PreK Bits - Odd One Out

Ms. Rachel presented stories of "one" in Preschool Storytime.

"One Lonely Candle" - a "Happy Birthday" story with props and sound effects ... from oral tradition.
JUST ONE MORE is a new book by Jennifer Hansen Rolli.
TEN IN The BED is a traditional nursery song ... that pushes everyone out, until only one is left in the bed.
Who's in the bed? "O" creatures ... Owl, Otter, Octopus, Opossum ...
Who's left? One Baby Owl ... and .... one Papa Owl!

Here are more stories of ONE:
ONE DROWSY DRAGON by Ethan Long. A Dragon bedtime countdown.
ONE TWO, THAT's MY SHOE! by Alison Murray. And the dog runs away with the shoe!
ONE TOO MANY: A Seek & Find Counting Book by Gianna Marino. For finding and counting farm animals.
ODD ONE OUT: A Spotting Book by Britta Teckentrup. A NEW seek & find book.
ONE LIGHTHOUSE ONE MOON. A classic counting book by noted author and illustrator Anita Lobel.
ONE HUNDRED HUNGRY ANTS. A classic counting book by noted author and illustrator Elinor Pinczes.
ONE HUNDRED THINGS THAT MAKE ME HAPPY by Amy Schwartz. A NEW book with numbers more than ten!

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