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Fantastic Children's Non-Fiction

Thu, 10/19/2017 - 4:29pm

When Planet Earth Was New - by James Gladstone & Katherine Diemert -
This starkly beautiful picture book introduces very young readers to the geological history of planet Earth. Beginning with the very early development of the solar system, billions and billions of years ago, 'When Planet Earth Was New' shows the earth as it passes through various geological epochs, through the beginnings and the evolution of organic life, and into the human-dominated present. You'll find a great appendix at the end, giving a wealth of additional details. This little gem is a great way to show your child the basics of geological and biological history, years before they will first learn it in the classroom.

Pocket Full of Colors: the magical world of Mary Blair, Disney artist extraordinaire -by Amy Guglielmo & Jacqueline Tourville-
The authors chart the course of the life of Mary Blair, the creative talent behind Disney classics like Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland. Mary's creative instincts and professional ambitions collide with gender discrimination in the highly male-dominated work-spaces of mid-century America. Mary perseveres though, and single-handedly drags the Disney Studios from it's black and white past, and into the lush colors of it's storied golden age.

While there is much to love in this slender book, as and adult, my favorite part of 'A Pocket Full of Colors' is how carefully the illustrator captured the various incarnations of Mary's personal style, from Betty Page bangs, to late 50's June Cleaver pearls, and finally into ultra-trendy 60's Mod. This beautifully illustrated, audaciously colorful picture book is a great way to introduce your little one to biographies.

Yum! MmMm! Qué rico! : Americas' sproutings - by Pat Mora -
Featuring vibrant, warm colors and a playful style, Pat Mora manages to pack an enormous amount of quality content into a tiny little picture book. 'Written as a series of haiku, Yum! MmMm! Qué rico!' teaches kids about the history of many of the great foods that originated in the Americas (chocolate, corn, peanuts, potatoes, and many more). Be sure to check out the fun and informative histories of each food item, always in small print on the left-hand side of every page. Your child will be both educated and entertained.

Poison : deadly deeds, perilous professions, and murderous medicines - by Sarah Albee -
Written for more advanced readers, this book is sure to satisfy kids with a passion for chemistry, history, spy-craft, or maybe just anything morbid. While the author is careful to state that 'Poison' is not an exhaustive index of poisonous materials, at nearly 200 pages, Sarah Albee manages to cover an enormous amount of ground. Your child will learn about how humans have wrangled with chemistry throughout history, focusing on the where, when, and why of how people have come into contact with dangerous chemical compounds. Be sure to check it out!

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i carry your heart with me

Sat, 10/14/2017 - 11:33am

E.E. Cummings, (Edward Estlin, for those wondering) beloved American poet, was born on this day in 1894. Cummings is most well known for his unique style of poetry, recognizable by his sparing use of words, and his experimentation with form, grammar, and spelling. Often he wrote about love, and arguably his most well known poem is i carry your heart with me. Cummings started writing at a young age, and was quite prolific, having written thousands of poems. For a quick intro, here are 100 selected poems to give you a taste of his distinguished work. For a deeper dive, be sure to check out a copy of the Complete Collected poems. In addition to writing poetry, Cummings wrote multiple non-fiction books including The Enormous Room and Fairytales, as well as a handful of plays, which are available for check out here.

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Three brilliant wordsmiths

Tue, 10/10/2017 - 4:27pm

As presented in delightfully rendered, craftily composed biographies of wordsmiths for children (of all ages).

Edward Estlin Cummings was born on October 14, 1894 and was raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts by two supportive and creative parents, who introduced Estlin to the wonderful world of words and provided him with the space to use them magically. Estlin’s love of words was illuminated by his passion for drawing and painting, so that the poems he created used words for language and illustration. This very unique style of poetry is well known to any who are familiar with the works of e.e. cummings. In enormous smallness : a story of e.e. cummings, Matthew Burgess details cummings’ childhood and his journey to becoming a poetry pioneer. Kris Di Giamomo’s illustrations are the perfect match to both Burgess’s and cummings’ words. Words appear as pictorial representations of leaves on trees, clouds, the night sky.

cummings was greatly inspired by the outside world that he noticed as a child. So was William Carlos Williams, born in 1883 in Rutherford, New Jersey. Jen Bryant gives us Williams’ story in A river of words: the story of William Carlos Williams. As Williams grew older and had less time for outdoor pursuits, he realized that poetry instilled in him the same feeling as the sounds of the natural world. Unlike cummings, Williams did not find the poetry bursting out of him. He first tried his hand at writing like the famous English poets he had read in school, but found that this style could not convey the images he was seeing in his mind. He put aside rhyme and rhythm and “let each poem find its own special shape on the page.” Williams became a doctor to pay the bills, but often used his prescription pads for jotting down the lines in his head. After each day of work, he wrote to create the poems that are so well known and well loved today, poems about plums and wheelbarrows. Like Di Giamomo, illustrator Melissa Sweet demonstrates that pictures can be made with words.

Bryant and Sweet team up again in The right word : Roget and his thesaurus to give us the story of another great wordsmith. Born in London in 1779, Peter Mark Roget was a collector of words, and because of his accumulation, we have one of the most amazing, breathtaking books there is. The Greek translation of thesaurus is “treasure house,” and there is not a better word within it to describe it. As a child, Roget didn’t have many friends, but he had books, and reading them inspired him to make his own. He organized his words differently from cummings and Williams: he created lists. As he grew older he realized that there was always an ideal word to describe anything and that if those perfect words could all be found in one place, a book sure to provide the best word, than the world would be improved for it. Like Williams, Roget also became a doctor, but it was ultimately his wondrous compendium of words, the “Collections of English Synonyms Classified and Arranged,” that created his legacy. Bryant tells Roget's story in way that exhibits her own admiration for the thesaurus, and Sweet has once again used words as active, cheerful illustrations to show how letters can convey meaning on many levels.

The stories of these three scribes will appeal to word-lovers of any age, even help to create some new ones. And yes, I used a thesaurus to write this. I always do, regularly, repeatedly, and evermore.

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Writing & Publishing

Fifth Avenue Press Book Release Reception: AADL's Local Publishing Imprint

Sunday November 5, 2017: 1:00pm to 3:00pm
Downtown Library: 3rd Floor Open Area
Grade 6 - Adult

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Blog Post

Pulitzer Prize Winners 2017

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 12:14pm


The esteemed [|Pulitzer Prizes] have been awarded for 2017 and they should all be required reading. Here is the list:

Fiction: [t:Underground Railroad] by [a:Colson Whitehead]: picking up numerous awards besides the Pulitzer, including the National Book Award & the Carnegie Medal. At the top of many best book of the year lists for 2016. Whitehead chronicles two runaway slave's trials as they attempt to allude their captors with allegories that resound into the present day.

General Nonfiction: [t:Evicted : poverty and profit in the American city] by Matthew Desmond: additional honors include the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Carnegie Medal, & PEN award. Desmond followed 8 families in Milwaukee struggling with poverty.

History: [t:Blood in the Water : the Attica prison uprising of 1971 and its legacy] by [a:Heather Ann Thompson]: another that picked up numerous accolades and awards for telling the incredible story of the uprisings as well as the aftermath

Bio/Autobiography: [t:The return : fathers, sons, and the land in between] by [a:Hisham Matar]: a deeply moving portrait of the author's continued hope of finding his father alive after his mysterious disappearance in Libya

Poetry: [t:Olio] by [a:Tyehimba Jess]: Multiple award winning poet and Detroit native, Jess, deserves an even bigger following with this fascinating collection of poetry and narrative

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Brilliant poetry by a Detroit writer / publisher / rock star

Sat, 04/15/2017 - 10:38am


[t:Sunlight Through Bullet Holes: POEMS (that will live)] contains seven of jessica Care moore’s short collections. She is the youngest living Apollo Legend, first coming to national attention by winning the “It’s Showtime at the Apollo” competition a record-setting five times in a row. She has performed on Broadway, at Carnegie Hall, and at Lincoln Center, and she received the 2013 Alain Locke Award. She is CEO of Moore Black Press and Executive Producer of the outstanding Black WOMEN Rock! festival, and she lives and performs here in southeast Michigan.

Her poetry, much of it, cadences as if it were meant to be spoken aloud. Personal and political history, messages of love for children, self, and friends, tributes to musicians and poets, celebrations of Detroit culture and Blackness, and laments of loss and violence develop through breathtaking metaphors and surreal imagery. This is a beautiful, complex collection that's also enjoyable to read.

“I was born with stardust poems
& magic bones walking
inside stories of the children
of Bahia while drinking tears
I’ve swallowed whole in a torrential
Apartheid rain in the heart of Soweto.

I am fearless in this skin.”

Also by jessica Care moore
[t:God Is Not An American: Poetry, Politics, & Love]

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Celebrate National Poetry Month with Michigan Poets!

Mon, 04/10/2017 - 1:55pm


April is National Poetry Month! There is a wealth of poetry written by many authors from Michigan offered in AADL's catalog. Some items are available to download from the catalog to be enjoyed instantly! [t:Trumbull Ave.] by [a:Michael Lauchlan|Michael Lauchlan] and [t:Weweni] by [a:Margaret Noodin|Margaret Noodin] are available to download and also in the traditional paper bound form.

Local book sellers [|Bookbound] and [|Literati Bookstore] have author events still to come this month with poets from Michigan.

On Thursday, April 20 at 7:00 pm award-winning Michigan poets [a:Joseph, Zilka|Zilka Joseph] and [a:Liebler, M. L.|M.L. Liebler] will be reading poems at [|Bookbound].

Ann Arbor author [a:Joseph, Zilka|Zilka Joseph] has an MFA in Poetry from University of Michigan, and she currently teaches workshops, works as a manuscript coach and editor, and mentors writers in the Ann Arbor community. She has written several books of poetry including her most recent, [t:Sharp Blue Search of Flame]

[a:Liebler, M. L.|M.L. Liebler] is an internationally-known Detroit poet, Wayne State University professor and literary arts activist who founded The National Writer's Voice Project in Detroit and the Springfed Arts: Metro Detroit Writers Literary Arts Organization. He has authored and edited numerous books including [t:I Want to Be Once].

At [|Literati] on April 21st, local poets [a:Taylor, Keith, 1952-|Keith Taylor], [a:Swan, Alison|Alison Swan], and [a:McDaniel, Raymond, 1969-|Raymond McDaniel] will be reading from their various collections, in addition to sharing some of their favorite poems, written by poets of the present and past. [t:If the World Becomes So Bright] by [a:Taylor, Keith, 1952-|Keith Taylor] is another instant pdf download available from the AADL catalog.

Search the [|catalog] or the [|public lists] to find more local poetry and enjoy a poem a day all month long!

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Blog Post

Animal Magic: Donald Hall's "Eating the Pig"

Fri, 12/16/2016 - 1:23pm

Donald Hall

Donald Hall's poetry is the apple of our eye.

If you’re a vegetarian, Donald Hall’s poem “Eating the Pig” might make your stomach churn.

But if you’re a meat eater and are disgusted by Hall’s imagery -- or the pictures in the Eating the Pig: A Dinner Party in Poetry, Photography & Painting exhibit, on display at the Ann Arbor District Library, that document the evening described in the poem -- you need to get in touch with where your animal-based protein comes from and the often brutal ways it gets to your plate.

(Read the "Eating the Pig" poem here or listen to Hall read it here.)

In 1975, Hall left his teaching job at University of Michigan and bought his maternal great-grandfather's farm in New Hampshire, where he spent many summers as a child. With so much of his life spent in a rural area, the 2006 Poet Laureate is deeply in tune with nature and the creatures that populate it. His poems show a clear-eyed vision of how real life is always an ongoing mix of beauty and struggle, inextricably linked and forever a source of consternation and inspiration. Hall recognizes that a gorgeous horse can become a broken down beast of burden; that a majestic but aging rooster’s final morning crow is lost to the wind before his head is chopped off; and that a cute little suckling pig can also be a source of human sustenance.

Hall has written many poems that feature animals -- and no, they aren’t all about eating them. Below is a selection of those poems, which display Hall’s reverence for animals and the many things they provide for humanity. These poems also give additional context to “Eating the Pig,” which ties a single October 1974 Ann Arbor evening spent carving and devouring an animal to a historic ritual of life and death that stretches back to the Stone Age when flint cutting tools first appeared.

Donald Hall, Pig

Piggy in the mirror.

“Eating the Pig” isn’t barbarous; ultimately, it’s about paying homage, with all the gory details, to the animals who have worked the land or been sacrificed in support of human survival (including vegetarians).

"Great Day in the Cows House"

"The Henyard Round"

"The Black-Faced Sheep"

"Name of Horses"

"The Alligator Bride"

"Wolf Knife"

Christopher Porter is a Library Technician and editor of Pulp.

"Eating the Pig: A Dinner Party in Poetry, Photography and Painting" runs through January 12, 2017, on the 3rd floor of the Downtown Branch of the Ann Arbor District Library. For more information on the exhibit, including a new essay Hall wrote about the evening and to see all the photos, visit AADL's "Eating the Pig" website. View the Donald Hall books in our collection here.

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An Encounter with the Elegant and Sensitive Verse of Misuzu Kaneko

Sat, 10/22/2016 - 12:22pm


Early 20th century Japanese poet [a:Kaneko, Misuzu|Misuzu Kaneko] inspires wonder and compassion in her writing. Her poems ask questions close to the heart of a child, and step into the slippers of things as plain as the snow under our shoes. The tale of her short life is clouded by hardship, but her poetry brims with a celebration of being alive.

"Snow on top
must feel chilly,
the cold moonlight piercing it.

Snow on the bottom
must feel burdened
by the hundred who tread on it.

Snow in the middle
must feel lonely
with neither earth nor sky to look at."

For the first time, Kaneko's poetry is being made available in North America by a team of translators and journalists passionate about sharing her legacy with the world. Kaneko's work is highly respected in Japan, being standard material in literature classes, and now English speakers have the opportunity to see what is so special about her in the book [b:1495760|Are You An Echo?: The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko].

Written at a child's level, this book narrates Kaneko's life story while presenting a whole collection of her poems in translation, with the original Japanese verse alongside. Besides providing an encounter with this lovely woman of words specifically, [b:1495760|Are You An Echo?] subtly teaches children how to understand and appreciate poetry in general. This is personally one of my favorite publications of the year.

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"Now all my teachers are dead except silence." William Stanley Merwin

Fri, 09/30/2016 - 5:11pm


Today is the 89th birthday of poet [|W S Merwin]. A two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, a two-time Poet Laureate of the United States (1999 & 2010), he has won almost every important prize available to a poet. His work has been hailed by every national publication of repute, and every academy and foundation for poetry, for over 60 years. If you haven’t read anything by him, try [|this bittersweet poem] from his latest book.

Merwin, who has lived and worked all over the world, now lives on the island of Maui, and continues his 40-year endeavor to restore the rainforest surrounding his home, which had been destroyed by years of logging and agriculture. A practicing Zen Buddhist, devoted environmentalist, and erudite observer of the human condition, [|here] are the works AADL owns by this most prolific and wise poet, essayist, and translator.

He has said:

I think there’s a kind of desperate hope built into poetry now that one really wants, hopelessly, to save the world. One is trying to say everything that can be said for the things that one loves while there’s still time.

Any work of art makes one very simple demand on anyone who genuinely wants to get in touch with it. And that is to stop. You've got to stop what you're doing, what you're thinking, and what you're expecting and just be there for the poem for however long it takes.

I have with me all that I do not know. I have lost none of it.