What is this Christmas thing anyway?

Are you concerned about what Christmas has become. Charlie Brown sure was. If you want to learn about the true meaning of Christmas, sit back and relax with your family as you watch A Charlie Brown Christmas.

There is a Santa Claus…

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Apollo 8, Launched on December 21, 1968, was the first manned mission to leave Earth orbit and head for the moon. After ten lunar orbits it was time to go home. To get back on the right path, the crew had to perform the Trans-Earth Injection burn while on the far side and out of radio contact with NASA. Everything went as planned, and when radio contact was restored (at the precise time calculated by NASA engineers) this was the transmission:

Apollo 8: Houston, Apollo 8. Over.
Mission Control: Hello, Apollo 8. Loud and clear.
Apollo 8: Please be informed there is a Santa Claus.
Mission Control: That's affirmative. You're the best ones to know.

It was December 25.

If NASA’s authority isn’t enough to convince you, take a look at NORAD’s (North American Aerospace Defense Command) Santa Tracker website. They’ve been tracking the jolly old elf since 1955 using state of the art radar equipment.

Silly Stories

In the mood for a cozy, crazy family storytime this holiday season? Join us on Wednesday, December 27 at 10:00 am in the Downtown Youth Story Corner for silly stories for all ages. Sing along in an old favorite from the Appalachian Mountains and a dancing folktale from Panama that has lots of opportunities for audience participation.

Poetry takes its rightful place

On December 20, 1985, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill into law empowering the Library of Congress to name a Poet Laureate each year. From 1937-1986, the position existed under the name, Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. The stipend awarded to this poet/consultant requires the publication of at least one major new work as well as appearances at selected national ceremonies. Poet Laureates have also taken as their charge innovative projects that broden the appeal of poetry to the general public.

The current poet laureate is Donald Hall, professor emeritus of the University of Michigan. Some previous poet laureates have been Robert Pinsky who created the Favorite Poem Project and Ted Kooser who developed the American Life in Poetry columns that appeared in many newspapers throughout the country. The position has provided established poets the opportunity to creatively spread the words of the muse and connect people with the pleasures of poetry.

A Picture Book Perfect for the Season

There's a new picture book in our collection that is just the thing for cozy family reading or a nice gift for a family with young children. That book is Winter Is the Warmest Season, written and illustrated by Lauren Stringer.
Maybe you're thinking this title doesn't work here in Michigan, but the book's large brilliant illustrations and clever text will convince you otherwise. "Cold jelly sandwiches turn into grilled cheeses" and pajamas "grow big warm feet."

For more books about the joys of winter, click here.

Whimsical Nutcrackers

Stop in to see the small collection of wonderful Nutcrackers in the youth department glass display at the downtown library. A friendly elf was kind enough to share these colorful characters for the holiday season. There is a bohemian artist, a pirate and other surprises!

Tournament Weekend: Monkey Ball, DDR, and the Grand Championships!

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This weekend, we'll have three videogame tournaments at the Downtown Library, with something for everyone, including food and prizes. First, we'll have an All-Ages Super Monkey Ball Tournament, Friday Night, 12/15, from 6-8:30 PM. Come play Super Monkey Ball, Monkey Target, Monkey Bowling, Monkey Dogfight, and even try your hand at Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz on the one and only Nintendo Wii! Read on for full details about the Monkey Ball event.

Then, on Saturday, 12/16, it's the biggest gaming event in town; the 2006 AADL-GT Super Smash Double Dash Grand Championships! The event starts at noon, with the Clan Cup for the top 8 clans from the regular season. Then we'll have the Wildcard Tournament for players in grades 6-12 who are new or didn't finish the season in the top 64. 8 wildcards will join the top players in the Grand Championship itself, with First Prize: a Nintendo Wii, Second Prize: a 2gb iPod Nano, and Third Prize: A Nintendo DS! It all comes down to this, have you got what it takes? This event will be broadcast live on CTN Channel 18, so a signed release form is required. Preregister before you come, and you can use self checkin and skip the line!

Finally, we'll wrap up the weekend with an All-Ages Dance Dance Revolution Tournament, Sunday, 12/17, from 1-4 PM. Prizes for the two best standard/heavy players, and for the best adult/child team! All events in the Multipurpose Room at the Downtown Library. Plus, stay tuned for Pokémon and DS Fest events during Winter Break!

Eureka! Land in sight.

This week is the anniversary of the discoveries of two significant land masses. On December 13, 1642, Captain Abel Tasman of the Dutch East India Company first sighted New Zealand. In 1769, Captain James Cook landed and took possession for Great Britain. To read more on New Zealand, try Traveller's History of New Zealand and the South Pacific Islands by John H. Chambers.

On December 14, 1911, the South Pole was located and visited by Roald Amundsen. Although more has been written about Ernest Shackleton, his expedition to Antarctica was in 1914, a few years after Amundsen's discovery. Last Place on Earth is a book by Roland Huntford and then a film based on the rivalry between Amundsen and Scott who came one year apart to the Pole.

American Born Chinese & The Monkey King

Cleverly interweaving stories tell the tales of Jin Wang, a teen who meets with ridicule and social isolation when his family moves from San Francisco's Chinatown to an exclusively white suburb; Danny, a popular blond, blue-eyed high school jock whose social status is jeopardized when his goofy, embarrassing Chinese cousin, Chin-Kee, enrolls at his high school; and the Monkey King who, unsatisfied with his current sovereign, desperately longs to be elevated to the status of a god. Exploring issues of self-image, cultural identity, transformation, and self-acceptance American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang is a rare treat.

Give the gift of a good read!

Are you stumped on what to get your family members for the holidays? Try giving someone a book! NPR's All Things Considered has several recommendations here in the article "Book Selections to Nourish the Mind at the Holidays."

And while you're on NPR's website, check out their page of holiday recipes too!

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