Parent’s Corner: Get Them Writing

May is Short Story Month – a time to celebrate the short story and hone those writing skills. This isn’t just for adults! Many children love listening to stories, and writing their own is the next step in the process. AADL has books on helping children with their writing, and some are located on the Parent Shelf.

The Parent Shelf is located in the downtown youth area, and on this shelf you’ll find a variety of parent-child related books on a multitude of topics- including autism, and everything from language to potty training to safety to bullying. These books are available for checkout and can be found in the catalog when searching “parent shelf.” Here are a few to jumpstart writing success:

* Your child's writing life: how to inspire confidence, creativity, and skill at every age

* 1001 writing projects for students: a paragraph a day plan for writing success

* Beyond bedtime stories: a parent's guide to promoting reading, writing, and other literacy skills from birth to 5

* Ways of writing with young kids : teaching creativity and conventions unconventionally

Speaking of short stories, congratulations to the winners of AADL's 2014 Teen Short Story Contest and good luck to those 3rd-5th graders who entered the Short Story Challenge this year!

Audiobook for Kids: Rooftoppers

As a baby, Sophie is found floating in a cello case after a shipwreck and is taken in by the man who found her, eccentric Englishman Charles Maxim who uses books for plates and toast for bookmarks! Sophie and Charles live a quiet, happy life together until Sophie’s twelfth birthday, when the authorities decide that Charles is not a fit guardian. Rather than letting Sophie be taken to an orphanage, Sophie and Charles embark on a quest to find Sophie’s mother with the cello case as their only clue. The pair travels to Paris where Sophie meets the illusive rooftoppers who agree to help her with her search for her missing mother.

The audiobook of Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell has the feel of a classic with its gorgeous writing, gentle humor and determined young heroine, and narrator Nicola Barber gets the accents exactly right. The novel is also reminiscent of Martin Scorsese’s Hugo with its adventures through the secret world of Paris.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #456

The darling of the 2012 Frankfurt Book Fair that inspired frenzied bidding, already a bestseller in Europe, The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair * will soon be released in the US (translated from the French by Sam Taylor), and destined to be one of this year's hottest summer read. (Also available in the original in the World Language Collection).

Joël Dicker, the 28 year-old Geneva-based author sets this charming whodunit in an idyllic seaside village in New Hampshire, having spent his childhood summers in New England.

On August 30, 1975, Nola Kellergan 15, was reported by a neighbor fleeing through the Somerset (NH) woods never to be seen again. The narrative picks up in 2008, when Marcus Goldman, a successful young novelist suffering from extreme writer's block, seeks advice from Harry Quebert, his good friend and mentor, and one of the country's most respected writers. Snooping around in Harry's home office in Somerset, Marcus comes across material links between Harry and the missing Nola. Just days after, a landscaper finds Nola's remains in Harry's yard.

As the national media convicts Harry, Marcus launches his own investigation, following a trail of clues literary and tangible, teasing out sordid small-town secrets in an attempt to save Harry, his own writing career, and eventually maybe himself.

The winner of three French literary prizes, including the Grand Prix du Roman from the Académie Française, and was a finalist for the Prix Goncourt, The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair is a "fast-paced, tightly plotted, cinematic literary thriller".

Film rights sold to Warner Bros. Variety reports that Ron Howard will direct.

* = starred review

Meet the "It's All Write!" Guest Speaker: K.A. Barson!

Kelly ‘K.A.’ Barson published her first novel, 45 Pounds (More or Less) in July 2013. She has always loved reading and writing, and even teaches writing at Spring Arbor University. According to Me, My Shelf, and I, Barson loves spearmint Chapstick, wears sweatpants while writing, and likes to dye her hair all different colors. She is also a local author hailing from Jackson, MI!

If you’re near the Downtown branch this Saturday, May 10, be sure to stop by the “It’s All Write!” Teen Short Story Contest Awards Ceremony! Barson will discuss her thoughts on writing, sign copies of her book, and award the top nine writers of the contest!

To learn more about K.A. Barson, check out her website and blog.

Stay tuned to find out the Winners of the “It’s All Write!” Teen Short Story Contest!

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #455

Violet Kupersmith, still in her early 20s, offers "(a)n extraordinarily compelling debut of ghost stories, written as an undergraduate (Mount Holyoke) that grapple with the legacy of the Vietnam War".

Praised by fellow writers as "surgically precise and feverishly imaginative" (Tea Obreht), "...teem(ing) with sensuous and exuberant life" (Valerie Martin), "...deftly funny and yet so deadly serious" (Yiyun Li), The Frangipani Hotel * * will not disappoint.

The titular L'Hotel Frangipane, "swanky name, shitty place", located in the Old Quarter of Hanoi, is a 1/2-star, seven-story death trap, run haphazardly by an extended family where a beautiful young woman, floating fully dressed in an overflowing bathtub in an unoccupied room, seduces an American businessman into a moonlight swim with dark intent.

In "Skin and Bones", in need of losing a few pounds, an overweight Houston teenager is shipped off to spend the summer with her grandmother in Ho Chi Minh City, only to discover the delicious Bánh mì, offered by a curiously-friendly street vendor as the city naps in the sultry afternoons.

Based on traditional ghost stories told to her by the author's Vietnamese grandmother, "each of the stories is replete with characters both fabulous and ordinary, stories out of this world and firmly rooted in it. Each is meticulously told by a storyteller talented and wise beyond her years." Highly recommended for literary fiction fans.

* * = 2 starred reviews

May is Gardening for Wildlife Month

Isn't it great to see the daffodils and tulips finally blooming? And the bunnies bouncing around? And to hear the multitude of birds singing and chirping in the trees? I don't know about you, but I'm ecstatic that spring is finally here!

If you want to fully embrace spring, there's no better way than by celebrating Gardening for Wildlife Month! Make your yard a welcoming place for urban or rural fauna (depending on where you live). We've got books in our catalog on how to make your yard attractive to various wildlife species. Try the following titles:

Attracting Birds, Butterflies and Other Backyard Wildlife
The National Wildlife Federation's Guide to Gardening for Wildlife
Your Backyard Wildlife Garden: How to Attract and Identify Wildlife in Your Yard
Attracting Backyard Wildlife : A Guide for Nature-Lovers

Good luck on creating your backyard wildlife wonderland!

May 14 John Corey Whaley Event Cancelled

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the author visit on May 14 with John Corey Whaley has been cancelled. AADL is sorry that this event couldn't happen, as is Mr. Whaley himself.

However, there will be several other author events in the coming months, including the"It's All Write!" Contest Awards Ceremony with K.A. Barson and two Emerging Writers workshops with Lara Zielin and Margaret Yang.

Looking for other educational teen events for the coming months? Learn basic HTML and web design on May 11 from EMU computer scientists, join local scientists on May 31 at the 3rd Annual Scientists Fair, or learn about the culinary arts with Michelle Krell Kydd on June 11.

Meet “It’s All Write!” Judge #11: Ben Stroud

Are you ready to hear about the last author to round out the entire team of this year’s judges? Introducing: Ben Stroud!

Ben Stroud recently published his first book, Byzantium, in 2013. He is best known for writing literary short stories, as featured in several anthologies, Harper’s Magazine, Boston Review, and The Literary Review. He has lived in Texas and Ann Arbor, and currently teaches creative writing at the University of Toledo. In an interview with One Story, he gave the following advice to other writers: “There’s so much we can’t control as writers, no matter what stage we’re at…We can sit down, we can work, we can write our stories. If we remember that, and remember why we started doing this in the first place—not for all those other things but for that magical feeling of stringing words together into a story—then the rest will take care of itself.”

Stay tuned for more information about the “It’s All Write!” Teen Short Story Contest and the upcoming Awards Ceremony on Saturday, May 10!

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #454 - “those of us who read because we love it more than anything, who feel about bookstores the way some people feel about jewelers...” ~ Anna Quindlen

Leaving home for the first time armed with a prestigious scholarship (Art History) at Columbia, 23 yr.-old Brit Esme Garland is dazzled by Manhattan and smitten with the attention of Mitchell van Leuven, a gorgeous, wealthy, blue-blooded New Yorker with an appetite for all things erotic. He abruptly ends their short fling before Esme could tell him she is pregnant.

Determined to get through this on her own, Esme takes a job in a secondhand bookstore on Broadway, a gathering place for the eccentric, who watch over her through her pregnancy - from the laconic owner to the taciturn, guitar-playing night manager. Together they must struggle for the survival of the store in the challenging retail slum.

The Bookstore * by first time novelist Deborah Meyler is a "sharply observed and evocative tale of learning to face reality without giv­ing up on your dreams... sheer enchantment from start to finish."

"Above all, it's about the love of books. A deeply satisfying novel you will keep close to your heart, written in a style by turns witty and poetic."

Award-winning author Gabrielle Zevin gives us "(a) likable literary love story about selling books and finding love" in The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry * (More in a recent NPR interview).

A.J. Fikry, the irascible owner of Island Books on Alice Island (think Martha's Vineyard) off the coast of MA, is going through a tough spot: he lost his wife in a car accident, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and his prized possession--a rare edition of Poe poems--has been stolen. Over time, he has given up on people, and even the books in his store, until an unlocked door brings the most astonishing gift, and a young publisher's rep. offers him the chance to make his life over.

The Storied Life is about "a life of books, redemption, and second chances. Funny, tender, and moving.” It also tops the April LibraryReads list of the Top Ten Books that Librarians Across the Country Love.

Sarah Jio's Goodnight, June imagines the inspiration behind Goodnight Moon, a beloved classic among generations of young readers.

June Anderson, a successful NY financier is lonely and unhappy in her personal life. She is unexpectedly called home to Seattle, to settle her great-aunt Ruby's estate and to dispose of Bluebird Books - the children's bookstore Ruby founded in the 1940s. Amidst the store's papers, June stumbles upon letters between Ruby and the late Margaret Wise Brown, and that Brown not only visited the bookstore, but Ruby had in fact, inspired Goodnight Moon.

When June receives notice the shop is within days of foreclosure, she has a change of heart. In her rally to save the bookstore, June learns an important lesson about acceptance and forgiveness.

* = starred review

Multicultural Chapter Books: The Alvin Ho Collection

Second-grader Alvin Ho loves playing the brave Firecracker Man at home but at school he is too afraid to say a word. In fact, Alvin is afraid of many things but faces fear after fear in the Alvin Ho series by Lenore Look. In the first book, Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School and Other Scary Things, Alvin worries about making friends at school. In its sequel Alvin Ho: Allergic to Camping, Hiking and Other Natural Disasters, Alvin and his family get ready for Alvin’s first camping trip. Not only are these books delightfully funny, but the situations are very relatable. The audiobook is a particular treat, narrated by child actor Everette Plen who brings a fantastic youthful energy to these stories.

I think my favorite thing about the Alvin Ho series,though, is their celebration of multiculturalism. Alvin’s close-knit Chinese-American family includes a father who spouts Shakespearean insults and a grandfather who sews, and Alvin’s growing friendship with classmate Flea offers a wonderful message about accepting friends who are different from us.

The series continues with Alvin Ho: Allergic to Birthday Parties, Science Projects, and Other Man-made Catastrophes; Alvin Ho: Allergic to Dead Bodies, Funerals, and Other Fatal Circumstances; and Alvin Ho: Allergic to Babies, Burglars, and Other Bumps in The Night. More books in the series are also available as audiobooks.

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