Fabulous Fiction Firsts #41

Giraffe is the debut novel by Economist correspondent J.M.Ledgard that recounts the extermination of the world's largest captive herd of giraffes (49 of them) in a Czechoslovakian zoo in 1975.

The story spans the giraffes' capture in Africa to their deaths behind the Iron Curtain. We see them mainly through the eyes of three individuals whose lives were touched - a haemodynamicist (who studied blood flow in vertical creatures); a factory girl who visited them daily; and the sharpshooter ordered to bring them down one by one.

Ledgard unearthed the truth behind this little-known historic event while researching for the novel. The result is a "magnificent meditation on the quiet ways in which ordinary people become complicit in the crimes committed in their midst; … (and) a fairy tale about the power of other living creatures to enchant us into wakefulness”.

For wildlife enthusiasts, try also The White Bone by Barbara Gowdy. It’s a journey into the minds of African elephants as they struggle to survive years of drought and the deadly ivory trade.

Be a Deer and Join Us!

David Small and Sarah Stewart are coming to the Downtown library this weekend—are you prepared? Brush up on their charming blend of timeless watercolor illustrations and heartwarming tales of books, plants and… antlers? My personal favorite of the bunch, Imogene’s Antlers follows the resilient main character through her daily routine with a spontaneously acquired pair of antlers. Both written and illustrated by David Small, the delightfully matter-of-fact text juxtaposes hysterically with the images of Imogene’s unusual predicament. If you don’t happen to get a copy in time, never fear—Nicola’s Books will be on-hand at the event.

Yost and the 'Big House' at 'Sunday Edition'

Michigan Stadium is one of Ann Arbor's significant landmarks and much in the news these days. But what's the story behind how it was originally built? Find out on Sunday, November 12 at 2:00 p.m. at the Malletts Creek Branch library when Robert Soderstrom talks about his fascinating book The Big House: Fielding H. Yost and the building of Michigan Stadium. A U-M graduate and lifelong fan of the Wolverines, the author will talk about the early history of the stadium and present early photographs illustrating its development. The program is part of the library's 'Sunday Edition' monthly book talk series.

New Fiction Titles on the New York Times Best Sellers List (11/12/06)

Stephen King has written his first love story. The King of Scarey Stories said he was really afraid of his fans' reactions to his latest book. He need not have worried. His bittersweet romance entered the List at #1.

At #1 is Liseys' Story by Stephen King: the widow of a famous novelist who suffered from horrifying memories grapples with grief on her way to a new life. Is this a case of autobiographical projection?

At #6 is Hundred-Dollar Baby by Robert B. Parker: in the latest Spenser mystery the beautiful teenage runaway that our modern knight errant rescued twice (Ceremony and Taming a Sea-Horse) years ago asks for his help once again.

At #10 is First Impressions by Nora Roberts: this is a reprint of a 1984 romance. But everything this prolific author writes is publishing gold.

At #13 is Road of the Patriarch by R.A. Salvatore: this is Book 3 of the Sellswords fantasy series, and another winner for this popular author.

Kid Bits - Sailing and Whaling

Preschool Storytimes are back in session. They begin this week and will go thru the week of December 15, 2006. Beware of Holiday Closings during this schedule!!

Books that are fun with a "Sailing and Whaling" theme, are Ten Little Fish, Fish Eyes: A Book You Can Count On, Burt Dow Deep Water Man a classic whale tale, and Loud Emily.

Doggishly good books

On NPR Nancy Pearl has noted that in the past year nonfiction books about dogs have been very popular. Many of the titles she recommends are available at the library. For a doggishly good read, check out one of these titles:
Timbuktu by Paul Auster
Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck
City by Clifford Simak
Skippyjon Jones by Judith Byron Schachner
Lucky in the Corner by Carol Anshaw
Foreign Affairs by Alison Lurie

And check out the NPR story for a recording of Nancy Pearl reading "Golden Retrievals," a poem by Mark Doty.

Give 'Em a Gold Star

The City of Ann Arbor took home a 2006 Gold Star from Michigan’s Promoting Active Communities Collaborative for encouraging residents to get out and get moving. Our favorite reason Ann Arbor won? The Border-to-Border Trail that links AA with Ypsi and beyond. The City also won for making Getting Downtown healthy for you and the environment. Congratulations.

Let Them Eat History

It’s easy to admire Kirsten Dunst’s acting in Marie Antoinette – but it’s also admirable that plenty of educational asides on the history of the French and American revolutions found their way into Sofia Coppola’s new film. Check out reviews at metacritic, including this one from The Christian Science Monitor: “Freighted by its contentious reception at Cannes, writer-director Sofia Coppola's "Marie Antoinette" is destined to become this year's love-it-or-hate-it movie. Is it OK to say I merely liked it a lot?” The film continues this week at Quality 16 theater on Jackson Road. At the library we have loads of good books and films about the last queen of France, including the popular new book Abundance:A Novel of Marie Antoinette by Sena Jeter Naslund.

Clever Ali by Nancy Farmer

Ali’s father is in charge of the Sultan of Cairo’s carrier pigeons. When Ali turns seven he is old enough to work with his father in the palace. He is given his own pigeon and told not to overfeed it or it will become selfish and lazy. Ali doesn’t listen and overfeeds the pigeon, which causes a catastrophe that may get his father thrown into the Sultan's bottomless pit. When the cruel Sultan gives Ali one chance to save his father, he comes up with a plan to rescue his father and rid Cairo of the evil Sultan. Newbery author, Nancy Farmer, weaves an intriguing tale in the tradition of the Arabian Nights.

Writers recommend....

The most recent book recommended in the "You must read this" feature on NPR is Tillie Olsen's Tell Me a Riddle. Scott Turow talks about the profound influence Olsen's novella had on him as a young writer in college. Other titles recently discussed on the program have been Pale Horse, Pale Rider by Katherine Anne Porter, recommended by Alice McDermott and Maud Martha, Gwendolyn Brooks' only work of fiction described as "indispensable" by Asali Solomon whose book of short stories, Get Down was recently published.

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