NPR’s Books to Read, Books to Give

It’s that time of year when all the “best of” lists start popping up. NPR always puts together a nice, categorized list of recommended books called the Book Concierge. This year is no exception.

The site features NPR staff and critics guide to 2014’s great reads, and is easily filtered into categories for easy browsing, and you can choose more than one category. Want adult fiction AND a love story AND a short read – you can easily pluck it out using the filters! The lists include adult, young adult and children’s books. Give it a whirl and see what books you missed this year. Choosing new books was never so easy!

Herman and Rosie

The new book Herman and Rosie brought tears to my eyes when I opened it earlier this week. At once a celebration of individuality and a story of finding someone who truly understands you, this uniquely illustrated book is a story for all ages. It is obvious to readers from the beginning that Herman, an oboe-playing crocodile and Rosie, a jazz-singing doe, are meant to be together. Living in New York City, both enjoy the hustle and bustle of their busy lives, but sometimes find themselves lonely amidst the crowds. Ultimately, their lives must go through many twists and turns before their paths finally cross.

Author Gus Gordon does an amazing job of making this children’s book applicable to the young people it is geared towards but also engaging and adorable for older readers. I loved Herman and Rosie so much that I immediately bought a copy… and it’s not too late for you to add this to your holiday wish list, too!

Newbery News

The Newbery Medal is given to the most distinguished work of children's literature every year, and is announced in January. Though the real candidates are kept secret, here are some books that are getting lots of Newbery buzz on a few different mock Newbery blogs. Will one of them be the big winner? Do you have any recent books you've read that you would love to see get the Newbery medal?

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (who also wrote After Tupac and D Foster) is a lovely autobiographical book of poems chronicling her early life.

The Key That Swallowed Joey Pigza is the last of five books about Joey Pigza (of Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key fame) by author Jack Gantos. Will Joey win the hearts and minds of the Newbery committee?

For nonfiction, people are talking about The family Romanov : murder, rebellion & the fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming. A nonfiction book hasn't won the Newbery in a long time- could this be the year?

Last, but certainly not least, is The Madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul Curtis. Curtis already won the Newbery Honor for 2007's Elijah of Buxton. This book is a companion to Elijah of Buxton, and tells the story of two boys who encounter a mysterious man in the woods.

Happy reading!

Animalium

If you have not yet seen this giant beauty resting on the new youth nonfiction shelf, please allow me to draw your attention to it. I know I will forever be indebted to the person who first showed Animalium to me. It is one of those rare books that is both captivating to look at and to read. Maybe I should make myself clear here, it is captivating if you enjoy learning about animals and reading facts about them. If you are expecting a great fictional story, then perhaps it would be best if you check this out for the sole purpose of enjoying the pictures. Furthermore, please don't dismiss this book because it is intended for youth, I choose to believe "youth" really just stands for "youthful" and there really is no age restriction when it comes to appreciating beautiful illustrations of wildlife.

The large colorful illustrations are wonderfully detailed and the shadowing and chosen colors give the pictures great depth. Being an amphibian girl myself, I was particularly drawn to the page including the the Darwin's Frog (Rhinoderma darwinii) which has "an oversize vocal sac in which it rears its young." Little tadpoles in a frog's throat never looked so pretty.

Be warned though, when I say "giant beauty" I mean bring a sturdy bag because this is no pocket book.

You may also want to check out Welcome to Mamoko or Maps, both published by Big Picture Press and with equally fascinating pictures and intriguing concepts. Or maybe this has piqued your interest about animals and now you want to learn more. Great! Here is a list of other Awesome Animal books that may help you with your research.

Charming Film of Unlikely Friendship

Based on the beloved French picture book series, Ernest & Celestine is a charming tale of unlikely friendship between big bear Ernest and little mouse Celestine.

While the other mice are all afraid of hungry bears, Celestine is a lonely dreamer who fills her notebook with sketches of bears and mice as friends. Then one day Celestine meets Ernest. Ernest, too, is an outsider, and it isn’t long before the two become friends. When a scrape with the law forces the friends to flees, they only grow closer while hiding out through the winter. Elegantly balancing lighter scenes of growing friendship and delightful comic gags with heavier scenes of the fear and prejudice that threaten to keep these friends apart, this movie offers a fresh take on a classic tale of friendship. Its gorgeous watercolor style, which gives the film the flavor of the original picture books, is another reason to watch. The animation style is like no film I’ve seen before and was definitely one of my favorite things about watching it.

This film was nominated for a 2014 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film. It is rated PG for a few scary moments.

Chesstastic this Sunday, December 14, 1-4pm at Traverwood!

Join us this Sunday at our Traverwood location for a relaxing and challenging afternoon of chess--one of the world's most popular games! Players of all ages and skill levels are welcome! Drop in at any point over the course of the afternoon. Chess sets are provided.

Here are the books President Obama bought with his daughters on Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday, which occurred this past Saturday, November 29, is a day created in celebration of small, local businesses and to mitigate the large amount of shopping that takes place at large corporations on Black Friday. People are encouraged to patronize small businesses in their area, and President Obama and his daughters, Malia and Sasha, did just that. At the independent bookstore Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C., Obama and his two teenagers purchased 17 books spanning all age ranges and genres.

On the list were the Man Booker Prize-winner The Narrow Road to the Deep North, by Richard Flanagan, National Book Award-winner Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson, Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth and Faith in the New China, by Evan Osnos, and the classic Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad.

The Obamas also purchased three books from the Redwall series, several Junie B. Jones books, Nuts to You, by Lynne Rae Perkins, and Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms, by Katherine Rundell.

You can see the full list of the books the first family purchased here.

Hot Holiday Meals for the Hungry

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The Salvation Army will co-host a dinner TODAY, Wednesday November 26th, with the Ypsilanti Free Methodist Church from 4:30-6:30 PM. Be sure to RSVP by calling either the Salvation Army or the church to enjoy a meal and fellowship at 734-482-2055. St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Ann Arbor will serve its daily hot breakfast on Thanksgiving from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. as it does every day of the year. The Original Cottage Inn will offer its annual Thanksgiving meal for the needy and homeless, a tradition that dates back more than 30 years. The dinner is served on Thanksgiving between 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor will have hourly shuttles from the Delonis Shelter to its Thanksgiving Meal, the first one leaves at 11:00 am, the last will leave at 5:00 PM.

There are also churches in Ypsi providing meals: St. Matthew's United Methodist Church, 1344 Borgstrom Ave. from 2:00-5:00 PM; Brown Chapel AME Church, 1043 W. Michigan on Thanksgiving, right after a worship service beginning at 10:00 AM. People are welcome to attend the service but it's not required.

Free Holiday Classic Film Series at The Michigan Theater!

The Michigan Theater is topping off the holiday season with a series of FREE holiday movies shown on Sundays at 1:30pm. The State Street Area Association Holiday Classic Film Series presented by Sesi Lincoln and Old National Bank. The films start showing this Sunday!

This year’s classic holiday films shown will be: Home Alone on 11/30, Miracle on 34th Street on 12/7, Elf on 12/14, and It’s a Wonderful Life on 12/21. How fun! It’s a great way to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the season and sit down for a free movie in a beautiful theater! Want to just stay home? The library has you covered with the DVDs of the films.

The Best of 2014 (Suggestions to get a jumpstart on Black Friday)

Library Journal's The Best of 2014 is a mix of the Top Ten of the year and the best of this year' s genre fiction, graphic novels, business, consumer health, craft & DIY, memoirs, and science.

Titles on the LibraryReads Top Ten Favorites that public library staff most enjoyed recommending in 2014 are no strangers. They are sure bets!

I quite like the list of 30 Books You NEED To Read In 2014 posted by The Huffington Post. Some of them might have been flying under the media radar this past year but everyone of them is an exceptional read. Definitely for the adventurous literary reader.

School Library Journal's Best Books of 2014. These 70 books distinguish themselves with excellence in writing, art, design, storytelling, originality, and appeal. From picture books to nonfiction, for lap-sharing and independent readers.

For the visual readers of all ages, check out the New York Times Best Illustrated Books Awards. The 2014 winners are a feast for the senses.

Alright... you are twisting my arm. If you must (toys, I mean), here are some suggestions you can count on...

Parents Magazine rated this year's best toys for every age, starting with baby and ending with big kids! These 58 winners (at all price points, I might add) would bring you kisses and hugs. There is even a list of toys for kids with special needs.

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