Ann Arbor Open School Family Stories

Mike Derhammer's class at Ann Arbor Open spent the winter interviewing family members and thinking about funny and interesting stories from their own lives. Along the way they discovered that storytelling is so much a part of who we are. Sometimes it's fun and enlightening to just stop and listen to each other's tales. We hope you enjoy listening to these stories as much as we did!

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E.L. Konigsburg, two-time Newbery Medal winning author and illustrator, has died.

E.L. Konigsburg, author and illustrator of 21 books for children, teens, and adults, has died.

Elaine Konigsburg, born Elaine Lobl in New York City, grew up in small Pennsylvania towns as the middle of three daughters. Though her family would rather she cook or clean, she was a voracious reader. She taught science at a girls' school after graduating college with a chemistry degree and marrying David Konigsburg.

After her third child began attending school, Konigsburg began to write, publishing Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and me, Elizabeth, which received a Newbery Honor, and Newbery Medal winner From the mixed-up files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler in 1967.

Of her characters, Konigsburg said, "the kids I write about are asking for the same things I wanted. They want two contradictory things. They want to be the same as everyone else, and they want to be different from everyone else.They want acceptance for both."

Konigsburg won another Newbery Medal in 1997 for The view from Saturday, making her one of five authors to win the prestigious award twice.

Her historical novel A proud taste for scarlet and miniver and short story collection Throwing shadows were both National Book Award finalists.

I encourage you to take a look at E.L. Konigsburg's books in the AADL catalog. You may find yourself revisiting an old favorite or trying something new!

Betty Bunny is a handful!

Betty Bunny, the main character in the series of children’s books by Michael Kaplan, is a handful! Her parents tell her she’s a handful all the time, and because they love her so much Betty assumes being a handful is a very good thing! And really, it is! In Kaplan’s first book, Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake, the spirited little hopper falls hard for this yummy dessert! So much so that she cries, “I’m going to marry it!” Her love for chocolate cake is so great that she puts a piece in her pocket and takes it to school! Thus starts the beginning of Betty’s lesson on learning patience. In Kaplan’s second book, Betty Bunny Wants Everything, little Betty learns the hard lesson that you can’t always get what you want. While shopping with her mother and siblings Betty is allowed to pick out one toy. However, Betty is not going for that plan and quickly fills the shopping cart to the brim. It is only after being dragged out of the store kicking and screaming that Betty learns bad behavior will end in great disappointment. Kaplan hits another home run in his third book, Betty Bunny Didn't Do It. In this book Betty is caught lying to her parents about a broken lamp and sent up to her room. She’ll have you laughing out loud with her outlandish tale of how the tooth fairy is the one responsible for the damage.
All three books touch on lessons every child encounters and are great resources for parents to address naughty behavior. Together, with illustrator Stephane Jorisch, Kaplan paints a picture of a young hip bunny family dealing with the daily challenges of living with a handful named Betty Bunny. The stories and art are fresh and contemporary and create a whimsical world that leaves you wanting more!

Another Stead Picture Book Collaboration

Bear Has a Story to Tell, written by Philip Stead and illustrated by Erin Stead, is a warm, wonderful story about patience and friendship that will delight young children and people of all ages who may want to read it aloud or over a young person's shoulder. The Steads are the Michigan duo that created A Sick Day for Amos McGee, winner of the 2011 Caldecott Medal. The books are companions in tone and style.

The lovely pencil and watercolor illustrations Bear Has a Story to Tell depict the changing natural landscape, as Bear tries to remember the tale he wants to tell his animal friends and they try to jog his memory. There are warm acts of kindness, giving the book, a Kirkus Reviews Best Children's Book of 2012, the feel of a classic likely to be read and shared by many future generations.

The Three Questions

While taking a quiet moment in the youth collection the book The Three Questions caught my eye. Written and illustrated by Jon J. Muth, the book is based on the short story by Russian author Leo Tolstoy. (We have a version of Tolstoy’s short story to check out at the library, but a quick search on the internet will lead you to a many digital versions). In Muth’s version the main character is a little boy; in Tolstoy’s version the main character is a powerful king. In both stories the main characters go on a quest to find answers to what they consider to be the three most important questions in life:

When is the best time to do things?
Who is the most important one?
What is the the right thing to do?

Failing to get a satisfactory answer, the main characters venture out to find someone wise to ask. The young boy visits a turtle, while the king sets off to visit a hermit. It is only after a series of events that the answers are revealed by the wise ones. In Muth’s version the wise turtle responds, “Remember then that there is only one important time, and that time is now. The most important one is always the one you are with. And the most important thing is to do good for the one who is standing at your side. For these, my dear boy, are the answers to what is most important in this world. This is why we are here”.
Jon Muth’s The Three Questions is beautifully illustrated and sends a message of love and mindfulness of others. It is perfect for the child that always wants to know “why”, and it is perfect for the parent who wants to touch on the subject of compassion and helpfulness towards others.

Kay Lyn Pace: Country Acoustic Performance

The Ann Arbor Senior Center is invites you to attend a live country music performance by Kay Lyn Pace on Sunday, April 21 at 1:00 pm. Kay Lyn is from Dexter, and has been showing off her singing, songwriting and musicianship locally and at the Songwriters Festival in Nashville. Please call to register at 734-794-6250, as seating is limited and there is a small charge, except for senior center members and kids 12 and under accompanied by an adult.

Take a Hike @ Bird Hills

Thursday, May 2 | 7:00-8:30 PM | Bird Hills Natural Area | All Ages

The Ann Arbor Natural Area Preservation staff will lead a nature walk in one of Ann Arbor's most beloved parks, Bird Hills. Covering 147 acres, it is the largest park in Ann Arbor.

Learn about ecological restoration and responsible use of public lands. Opportunities for wildlife viewing are plentiful. If we’re lucky, we may get to view some early spring bloomers like trillium, jack-in-the pulpit, and more. Black, red, and fox squirrels, ground squirrels, deer, and butterflies are very common in Bird Hills. Dress comfortably to walk and enjoy nature.

We'll meet in the parking lot off Newport Road, just north of M-14. This event is for all ages.

Happy Birthday, "Little Prince"!

On April 6, The Little Prince celebrates 70 years in print. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry first published The Little Prince in 1943, only a year before his Lockheed P-38 vanished over the Mediterranean. Born in Lyons, France, Saint-Exupéry wrote The Little Prince while living in the U.S. during a two-year, self-imposed exile from the Nazi occupation of his home country. A year after the book’s publication, the author disappeared over the Mediterranean while flying a reconnaissance mission for his French air squadron.

This enduring fable of love and loneliness has lost none of its power. The narrator is a downed pilot in the Sahara Desert, frantically trying to repair his wrecked plane. His efforts are interrupted one day by the apparition of a young boy (the little prince), who asks him to draw a sheep. "In the face of an overpowering mystery, you don't dare disobey," the narrator recalls. "Absurd as it seemed, a thousand miles from all inhabited regions and in danger of death, I took a scrap of paper and a pen out of my pocket." And so begins their dialogue, which stretches the narrator's imagination in all sorts of surprising, childlike directions.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s fable about the wise, humble boy from Asteroid B-612 who befriends the stranded pilot has touched the lives of multiple generations of readers worldwide, with more than 150 million copies in print, in 260 languages and dialects. There are graphic novel versions of the story, and a DVD opera version. There is even a Little Prince Facebook page,which has acquired more than 1.1 million fans since its July 2011 debut, a testament to The Little Prince’s enduring popularity.

Get Your Craft On!


I love crafting with my kids, no really, I do! I love coming up with new ideas, picking out the materials and rolling up my sleeves to dig into something fun and creative. I spend a lot of time in the crafting section of the AADL looking for new and unique ideas. (Take a walk in the area of 745.5 of the non-fiction section to browse this topic.) I was delighted when I ran across the book D.I.Y Kids written by Ellen and Julia Lupton. It is divided into four section-graphics, toys, home and fashion and is jam-packed with cool ideas for making logos, stickers, party supplies and kites, to name a few. Each project is explained with step-by-step instructions and rated by project difficulty, time, mess and cost. It is intended for children seven through twelve, but many of the projects can easily be modified to suit all ages. Included in the book are projects that do not require any adult supervision or help from an adult. I love this aspect for the times when little ones want to make a surprise for a special occasion like Mother's or Father's Day! Check it out and get your craft on!

2013 Hugo Award Nominees Announced

Nominees for the 2013 Hugo Awards, the most prestigious prize in science fiction, were announced Saturday afternoon via livestream. The announcement was also made simultaneously at four major science fiction conventions across the country.

The Hugos have been awarded since 1953, and are given to both written and dramatic works in over a dozen categories. Well-known previous winners include Frank Herbert's Dune, Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, and the Pixar film Wall-E. Check out all the great the nominated works in the AADL collection before this year's winners are announced on September 1st!

Nominees for best novel:

2312, Kim Stanley Robinson
Blackout, Mira Grant
Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, Lois McMaster Bujold
Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas, John Scalzi
Throne of the Crescent Moon, Saladin Ahmed

Nominees for best film:

The Avengers, Screenplay & Directed by Joss Whedon
The Cabin in the Woods, Screenplay by Drew Goddard & Joss Whedon; Directed by Drew Goddard
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Screenplay by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro, Directed by Peter Jackson
The Hunger Games, Screenplay by Gary Ross & Suzanne Collins, Directed by Gary Ross
Looper, Screenplay and Directed by Rian Johnson

Episodes of Doctor Who, Fringe, and Game of Thrones were also nominated for awards in short-form dramatic presentation.

Click over to the Hugo Awards official site for a complete list of nominees, including graphic novels, short fiction, and fan authors and artists.

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