PreK Bits - "A" is for April foolishness

Ms. Rachel fooled around with foolish stories in Preschool Storytime.
MOST WONDERFUL EGG In The WORLD ...a story about three hens who argue over who is most beautiful. Since they can't settle the argument, the wise Queen must decide.
We made ourselves into chickens and danced the "Chicken Pokey" ... using chicken language!
DUCK ! RABBIT !... for those who don't know when to let go of an argument.

For more Foolishness, try the following favorites:
The TORTOISE And The HARE, a fable where humble wins. This version is illustrated by award winning Jerry Pinkney.
STREGA NONA: An Old Tale by award winning Tomie DePaola. The spaghetti wins !
The GREAT FUZZ FRENZY by award winning Janet Stevens. The Fuzz wins !
SHEEP IN WOLF'S CLOTHING by Helen Lester
CAMPING SPREE WITH MR. MAGEE by Chris Van Dusen.
JUST JOKING: 300 hilarious jokes, tricky tongue twisters, and ridiculous riddles
KNOCK KNOCK! WHO's THERE?

New Adult Fiction: Viper Wine

Viper Wine, the debut by Hermione Eyre, is far from your typical historical fiction novel. Considered a great beauty of her day, Venetia Stanley is popular at the 17th century court of Whitehall palace, adored by her husband, and revered by painters and poets who all wish to pay homage to her looks. After years of marriage and motherhood, however, Venetia feels that her looks are beginning to fade, and asks her husband, Sir Kenelm Digby, a charismatic inventor who dabbles in alchemy, to assist her in finding a potion or elixir that will preserve her youth. He refuses, claiming that she is perfect just the way she is. Forced to look elsewhere for help, Venetia is eventually given a potion that contains viper’s blood and opium, and that works…. for awhile. As other women at the court follow in Venetia’s footsteps, the elixir becomes all the rage, with disastrous consequences.

Eyre draws obvious parallels between Venetia’s desire for physical perfection and today’s obsession with beauty and looks. She even deftly weaves into Viper Wine cameo appearances by today’s celebrities, including Naomi Campbell and Groucho Marx, thus creating a truly unique reworking of the idea of the historical novel. Venetia Stanley, her husband, and several other characters are actual people from the era of Charles I, and it’s clear that Eyre devoted extensive time to the research of this book. This fascinating exploration into how far we have gone… and continue to go, to achieve beauty will appeal to even those who typically avoid historical fiction.

Get to Know the Judges: Erin McCahan


Leading up to the It's All Write Teen Short Story Contest celebration on June 7 (mark that on your calendar!), we'll be posting information about the judges who have the difficult task of narrowing down our contestants. Our next judge is Erin McCahan, an author born in our own beloved Michigan (East Grand Rapids)!

McCahan grew up in Ohio and is very proud of her Irish heritage. She's particularly interested in Victorian and Colonial history. Her published works include I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU SOMEONE ELSE (2010) and LOVE AND OTHER FOREIGN WORDS (2014). LOVE is a comedic coming-of-age story in which gifted teenager Josie must contend with the upcoming nuptials of her sister to an insufferable fiance and the mixed emotions involving her boyfriend, her crush, and her best friend Stu. Josie's genius-level IQ can't help her out when it comes to mastering the languages of familial, romantic, or platonic relationships, but one way or another, she has to figure it out.

The World of Ice and Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones

The new season of Game of Thrones is almost here and for many fans April 12th cannot come soon enough! If you're as excited as I am about the return of the new season, you may be on the lookout for any small sliver of (non-spoiler!) Game of Thrones news or for more content to devour before the start of the 5th season.

A recent addition to our collection is The World of Ice and Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones, a comprehensive history of the Game of Thrones universe. As many of George R. R. Martin's fans know, one of his many strengths is the complex worldbuilding within the Game of Thrones novels. The World of Fire and Ice does an amazing job of simplifying the plethora of information offered throughout the series into a (relatively) concise history of the Game of Thrones world.

This 326 page mega-book contains detailed maps of the Game of Thrones world, color illustrations, full family trees for each of the major Houses, and an extended history with cultural information spanning the entire Game of Thrones universe. It also includes all-new material that George R. R. Martin wrote specifically for this collection. This incredibly informative companion novel is a must read for fans searching for an in-depth look at the history of Essos, Westeros, and everywhere in between.

Looking for a quicker way to get reacquainted with your favorite Game of Thrones characters and their backgrounds? Give the Game of Thrones graphic novels a try! For more information about the HBO television series specifically, be sure to take a look at Inside HBO's Game of Thrones for a cool sneak peek at what happens behind the scenes of one of the most popular shows on television.

Fire & Ice Series

Michael Ridpath is an English author with a banking background who has written a few different series, including a financial series. His latest is the Fire & Ice series. With four novels so far, the mystery books are set in Iceland and follow a main detective named Magnus Jonson and his colleagues as they investigate crimes and murder in Reykjavík and beyond.

Magnus was born in Iceland, but due to family problems he moved to Boston with his father and brother at a young. After working homicides for the Boston Police Department, he moved back to Iceland to work as a homicide detective there. He immediately delves into cases, explores family history, Icelandic sagas, and the death of his father.

It’s a good readalike for Arnaldur Indriðason’s wonderful Reykjavík Murder Mystery series as well as Yrsa Sigurðardóttir’s. Thora Gudmundsdóttir series.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #520

Plague Land * * by S.D. Sykes. Dispatched to a monastery at the age of seven, now at seventeen Oswald de Lacy assumes the title Lord of Somershill Manor when his father and two older brothers too, succumb to the Plague that has decimated the countryside. Left at home are his overbearing mother and his dangerous and unmarried sister Clemence.

In quick succession, local villagers Alison Starvecrow and her sister are found murdered, which the ambitious village priest blames on a band of demonic dog-headed man. It is now Oswald's responsibility to solve the crimes. But every step Oswald takes seems to lead him deeper into a dark maze of political intrigue, family secrets and violent strife.

"Sykes adds an intricate and intriguing debut (the first of a planned series) to the ever-widening pool of medieval-era mysteries. Thrilling plot twists and layered characters abound in this rich tale of murder and mystery in 14th-century Kent."

Readers might enjoy watching the Brother Cadfael series, based on mysteries by Ellis Peters; and Hugh De Singleton series by Melvin R. Starr.

Sadly, this brings to mind The Siege Winter, a stand-alone by the late Ariana Franklin (and completed upon her death by her daughter Samantha Norman), whose award-winning series based on the character of Adelia Aguilar, a medieval woman forensic pathologist will be fondly remembered by historical mystery fans.

* * = 2 starred reviews

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #519 - “When we are children we seldom think of the future. This innocence leaves us free to enjoy ourselves as few adults can. The day we fret about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind.” ~ Patrick Rothfuss

Man at the Helm * by Nina Stibbe (Love, Nina : a nanny writes home), an impressive first novel, has been compared to P. G. Wodehouse in its pacing; and Gerald Durrell's memoir My Family and Other Animals (1956), about an eccentric family's relocation to the Greek isle of Corfu, and a BBC Masterpiece Theater adaptation.

The narrator, 9-year old Lizzie Vogel has lived a charmed life. But when his homosexual affair is discovered, Lizzie's father packs them off to the tiny village of Flatstone, where life for the Vogels takes a drastic turn. The new neighbors are hostile and disapproving (of divorcees and fatherless children), and Lizzie's theatrical mother slips ever more into drinks, pills, and obsessive playwriting. Lizzie and her all-knowing older sister fear that the infamous Crescent Homes for Children is in their future, unless they could find a new husband for their mother, and a new "man at the helm" for the household. As one unsuitable suitor follows another, chaos ensues. Lizzie confronts the downright craziness of grown-up love and learns that sometimes a family needs to veer catastrophically off-course in order to find true happiness.

"An extraordinarily well-written, deeply satisfying read about an unusual, highly entertaining group of people." "Charming and bittersweet, with a very English flavor, this social comedy is distinguished by Stibbe's light touch and bright eye." Check out the New York Times Review.

Everlasting Lane * by Andrew Lovett is "(a) captivating, absorbing, and suspenseful evocation of the spells of childhood in a timeless coming-of-age tale."

After the death of his father, 9-year old Peter Lambert moves with his mother to the village of Amberley, and a cottage on Everlasting Lane. As the new kid, he is befriended only by the other two outcasts in his class - chubby Tommie and the neighborhood bossy Anna-Marie. Escaping the bullies, they find pleasure and solace in the countryside and soon meet up with local eccentrics who prefer solitude.

At home, Peter is disturbed by the growing awareness that his own aggrieved mother might be falling apart - first by changing her name, and then expressly forbidding him from entering a locked room in the attic.

Written in beautiful prose, "as charming and haunting as the movie Stand By Me... (w)ith nods to such children's classics as Alice in Wonderland, Lovett's first novel, inspired by events from his own childhood, contemplates the often very fine line between imagination and reality."

* = starred review

Home: a work of art for children and adults

The concept of “home” has meant a lot of different things to people over the ages and is still unique for each one of us today. Artist Carson Ellis makes her solo debut with a beautiful picture book, titled simply Home, that explores the meaning and concept of home. A snail shell, a covered wagon, an igloo, a castle surrounded by a moat… all are or have been home to something or someone at a given point in time. Ellis even weaves in fantastical homes: fairy houses, boots, and more are included in this wonderful book. In some of the mythical houses, Ellis does not include a description of who lives there, but instead asks readers to imagine what sort of creature they think would be suited to the structure. The clever combination of traditional, non-traditional, and fanciful homes will inspire children (and adults!) to think of “home” in a new way.

You may recognize Ellis’ work: she is the illustrator of the Wildwood series and the artist for the band The Decemberists. You can visit her website to see more of her awesome talent!

All About That Space, No Tribbles!

Readers interested in astronauts, planets, stars, and discovery will love AADL's new youth nonfiction books on space!

Professor Astro Cat's Frontiers of Space, by Dr. Dominic Walliman and Ben Newman, will have you hooked from the first page! Professor Astro Cat and friends travel through space to discover the composition of the sun, relative sizes of the planets, and a step by step process of how the Apollo II astronauts landed on the moon! Each page is highly visual with engaging graphics and interesting facts. Did you know that the International Space Station orbits the Earth 15.7 times every day? Or that objects falling into a black hole experience spaghettification? Check out this colorful book for a wild ride and even more amazing space facts!

How to Be a Space Explorer: Your Out-of-this-World Adventure by Mark Brake makes YOU the astronaut! First, get ready for space in a gravity simulator and use light-years to discover just how far apart the planets really are. Check out all the different materials used in your space suit like nylon tricot, spandex, and mylar. Real photographs of different types of spacecraft and tips for making your own bottle rocket take you on your way! Up, up, up into space until you're touring the moon and looking for signs of life. You'll feel like you're really there with this incredibly fun and interactive book.

Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos by Stephanie Roth Sisson paints a beautiful picture of the life of celebrity scientist Carl Sagan! A trip to the World's Fair as a child inspired him to dream big. He spent a lot of time at the library learning about stars and one day became the astronomer and cosmologist that so many people know about today! This book is a great biography for beginning readers with stunning illustrations.

Are you like Carl Sagan and just can't get enough science? Check out AADL's other books on space and science tools!

Award Winning Audiobook - The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer 2010. 20 hrs. 30 mins.

Awards: The Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, 2011. TIME Magazine’s All- TIME 100 Non-Fiction books.

Author: Siddhartha Mukherjee

Narrator: Stephen Hoye

Synopsis:
As a hematology/oncology fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital, Siddhartha Mukherjee was challenged by one of his patients to explain cancer. This biography of the disease, which takes on the enormous task of describing cancer and it’s treatment from ancient Egypt through modern day, is the result. Although the breadth of the story is intimidating, The Emperor of All Maladies is a great listening experience. The narrator did an excellent job with the personal stories of Mukherjee and his patients and I found the book informative but easy to comprehend.

On March 30th, inspired by Mukherjee’s book and with the support of Stand Up to Cancer, PBS and the documentary filmmaker Ken Burns will air the first episode of a 3-part, 6-hour television event. Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies is hailed as the most comprehensive documentary on a single disease ever made. As Ken Burns explains, “the series matches the epic scale of the disease, reshaping the way the public sees cancer and stripping away some of the fear and misunderstanding that has long surrounded it. The story of cancer is a story of human ingenuity, resilience and perseverance but also of hubris, paternalism and misperception.”

Part one of the film airs on Monday March 30, 2015 from 9-11pm e.s.t. For a schedule of upcoming episodes and interviews with executive producer Ken Burns, visit the PBS website.

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