Best New Music At AADL

AADL is constantly adding to its diverse selection of new CDs. If you're seeking some great new tunes, consider the following must-hear material.

"The Electric Lady," Janelle Monae: The easiest way to categorize Janelle Monae's music would be "R&B," but the young singer-songwriter is far more versatile than that. As on her previous masterpiece, The Archandroid, she plays fast and loose with genres from funk to soul to rock to jazz...even a bit of baroque folk. Creating an android alter-ego for herself, she weaves bits of tongue-in-cheek sci-fi dialogue into the album, which plays like an hour of the funnest, funkiest radio you've ever heard. Featuring excellent guest artists from Prince to Erykah Badu. (Fun fact: if you haven't heard of Monae before, you've almost certainly heard her voice. She's featured on Fun's smash hit "We Are Young".)

"The Speed of Things," Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.: If you're seeking some locally-grown jams, look no further than the new record from Detroit indie-pop duo Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.. These guys seemed on the verge of major celebrity status with their previous record It's A Corporate World. While their latest isn't quite the big, radio-friendly push they need, it's still full of cheery, hooky, danceable tunes. (Just listen to "If You Didn't See Me (Then You Weren't On the Dancefloor)" and try NOT to spend the next hour humming that riff.)

"Dream River," Bill Callahan: Some may recognize Bill Callahan from his work under the name Smog, but he takes a more personal approach on this record, his fourth to be released under his own name. There's something fascinating, beautiful and a little spooky about Callahan's sparse, autumnal arrangements. You could describe the record's genre as "folk," but Callahan's whispery, often spoken lyrics are too unique to pin down to an established genre. Lie back and let Callahan's pensive lyrics and atmospheric arrangements wash over you.

Find more great new CDs here.

Blast from the Past: 'Eight is Enough'

Maybe it’s because I was an only child, but as a kid in the late '70s and early '80s Eight is Enough was my favorite TV show. I was devastated when it was cancelled after it’s 5th season in 1981.

Eight is Enough, originally based on the life and memoir of the same name by Thomas Braden, was a family comedy/drama about Tom, his wife Joan, and their eight children, David, Mary, Joanie, Susan, Nancy, Elizabeth, Tommy, and Nicholas, living in Sacramento, CA. Actress Diana Hyland played Joan, but the actress became ill and tragically died shortly after the first episode aired. The entire show was retooled and Tom Bradford became a widower.

Abby, played by Broadway star Betty Buckley became Tom's love interest in season two. Son Tommy, played by Willie Ames became a teen idol and would later appear on the Scott Baio vehicle Charles in Charge. The brightest star to emerge from Eight is Enough didn't arrive until the final season: Ralph Macchio caused hearts to go pitter pat when he debuted as Abby’s troubled nephew Jeremy. Check out seasons one and two at AADL. Seasons three and four are on order!

Northern Lights Visible Thursday Night Over Michigan

You may have heard on the local news that the northern lights might be visible tonight due to a solar flare that occurred on Tuesday. If typical winter lake effect cloud cover dissipates then the lights will be able to be seen. If you’re typically early to bed then you might miss the show as the best viewing times are between midnight and four a.m.

If you’d like to learn more about how solar wind particles, magnetic fields and gases in the atmosphere interact to cause an aurora you can check out some books the library has on the subject.

The Puck Drops Here and the Winter Classic help ring in the new year in Ann Arbor!

At 1:00pm on New Years Day, hockey fans will pack The Big House in downtown Ann Arbor for the 2014 Winter Classic. The battle between the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs is not only expected to shatter the record of the highest attendance ever at a hockey game, but is also expected to break the overall attendance record in the Big House, which currently stands at over 115,000.

To welcome visitors in town for the game and celebrate the New Year, local Ann Arbor groups have worked together to create The Puck Drops Here, an outdoor celebration being held in downtown Ann Arbor tonight. There will be over 6 hours of live entertainment throughout the event, most notably The Voice finalist and Ann Arbor native Michelle Chamuel, and a midnight ball drop on Main Street. Many Main Street restaurants plan to re-open their outside seating for the evening, so the guests can watch the festivities under the warmth of outdoor heaters.

In conjunction with this event, the Farmers Market space in Kerrytown will have family-friendly activities including a skating rink, ice carvings, and marshmellow roasting.

You can read more about activities related to these events at AADL. Kids will enoy Z is for Zamboni: A Hockey Alphabet. Red Wings fans can explore The History of Hockeytown: Detroit Red Wings, 75 Years and The Winged Wheel: A Half-Century of Detroit Red Wings in Photographs. And, you can hear more of Michelle Chamuel’s work on Dancethink Systems, by My Dear Disco, the local band she was part of before competing on The Voice.

Happy New Year to all!

Large Print Materials-Easier on the Eyes

Perhaps you've realized that your eye sight isn't what it used to be. You don't need to give up reading, if that's the case, because AADL has a Large Print collection that can be mailed to eligible patrons as Free Matter for the Blind.

If large print is still difficult to read, you may want to consider submitting an application to the Washtenaw Library for the Blind & Physically Disabled. AADL administers the WLBPD to all eligible Washtenaw County residents. This program provides Digital Books and a Digital Player at no cost.

The Peculiar and The Whatnot

The Whatnot, Stefan Bachmann’s sequal to his much praised The Peculiar, is finally here! The world that Bachmann has created is very reminiscent of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell but written for a younger audience. It also includes some steampunk elements which give the story an added element of interest. It can get quite dark at times, and Bachmann does not shy away from subjects like murder and kidnap. The very first sentence of The Whatnot tells you this is a darker story than than the cute, mechanical cricket on the cover would lead you to believe.

"Pikey Thomas dreamed of plums and caramel apples the night the faery-with-the-peeling-face stole his left eye."

If you can get past menacing images like the above, The Whatnot is likely to be an entertaining read. Both books deal with animosity between the faery and human world where half-faery, half-human children (known as Peculiars) are not accepted by either groups. The Whatnot's opening chapter introduces a brand new character and the reader is soon entranced once again by the world of humans and faeries. This book, like the first, offers dark mystery juxtaposed with moments of whimsy which results in an intriguing balance.

Bachmann’s premier novel was met with very high praise in such publications as The New York Times Review, The Lost Angeles Times and Publisher's Weekly. Click on any of the publication titles to see the reviews.

Learn about The Polar Express' Michigan Roots

How many of you knew that the classic picture book, The Polar Express, has Michigan roots? The book itself is based in Grand Rapids, which is where the author, Chris Van Allsburg, is from! The story starts out with a young boy who is feeling a bit sad because he’s not so sure anymore that Santa Claus is real. As he lies in bed on Christmas eve, waiting hopefully for the sound of Santa, he instead hears the sound of a locamotive! He hops out of bed and runs outside, only to find a gigantic train waiting for him, filled with other young children. Together, they set off on a Christmas eve adventure to the North Pole.

The Polar Express was also adapted into a film back in 2004, starring Tom Hanks. Did you know that the film, too, has Michigan connections? NPR recently did a story on the locamotive that the film makers used for direct inspiration. When making the movie, the film crew traveled all the way out to little Owosso, Michigan, in order to capture the magic that is the 400 ton Pere Marquette 1225!

“Finally, the train arrives: 16 feet tall, puffing huge blasts of steam. The smell of burning coal fills the air, and the ground literally shakes.”

Do you love The Polar Express? Click through the links in this blog post to place requests on the original book, DVD, or Blu-ray. In fact, if you or your little one are interested in some festive decorating during this holiday season, the AADL even has a Polar Express art print that you can check out and hang up on your walls at home!

WLBPD Holiday Books

Washtenaw Library for the Blind & Physically Disabled patrons can browse the Michigan Braille & Talking Book Library (BTBL) or National Library Service online catalogs to find a good selection of Christmas mysteries, romances, cookbooks, or holiday stories for young people. Titles like "The Cat Who Came for Christmas" (DB26048/BR7225) or "It's Kwanzaa Time!" (DB42923) are available, as well as books about Hanukkah.

You can do a Word in Title search for a holiday using the online catalogs or call 734-327-4224, and a reader adviser will be happy to order them for you.

The Best of 2013 and Holiday Picks

Need some ideas?

You can always count on the New York Times for an inspired and thorough job in its annual Holiday Gift Guide, whether it be books, music, movies or games. And just released is the list of The 10 Best Books of 2013.

The LA Times has its finger on the pulse when it comes to great holiday book gifts. This year's list is chuck-full of smart and winsome picks for every genre, taste and demographics. Narrowing down your choices might be the biggest problem.

NPR Best Books 2013 is a list of 200 standout titles selected by NPR staff and critics.

Confounded by too many choices? Take a look at USA Today Critics' pick Top 10 must-read books of 2013. Every one a sure bet.

Library Journal's Top Ten is a solid mix of fiction and nonfiction chosen by the review editors. Don't miss out on the rest of the Best of 2013, as well as the Best in Genre Fiction and Core Nonfiction. I am delighted with their choices for the Best YA Lit for Adults and Graphic Novels for the hard-to-please on my list.

The Historical House Series

If you have a young reader in your life who loves historical fiction, check out The Historical House Series. Written by Adèle Geras, Ann Turnbull and Linda Newbery, this unique series follows the lives and times of young women who live in the same house in London over a period of 200 years. Follow along as the young women meet famous people the likes of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, join in the fight with suffragettes to allow women the right to vote and watch the first moon landing! Each book is written from the perspective of the young girls and captures the enchanting stories of their dreams and determination, all while set in the colorful world of London.
Polly’s March by Linda Newbery
Lizzie’s Wish by Adèle Geras
Mary Ann & Miss Mozart by Ann Turnball
Andie’s Moon by Linda Newbery

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