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The Handmaid's Tale and Dystopian Lit

Thu, 05/11/2017 - 1:47pm

By now you've probably heard about Hulu's new 10-episode series of The Handmaid's Tale, based on the classic dystopian novel by Margaret Atwood. In it, the former United States is now a totalitarian surveillance state that responds to plunging birth rates due to environmental factors by holding women captive and forcing them to bear the children of the ruling class. Freedom is heavily restricted (especially for women), and a secret police force called 'the Eyes' watches every public move. The story adeptly blends themes of fascism and politics, women's rights, language as it relates to power, and complacency within a society into a full and rich story. If you can't get enough of The Handmaid's Tale, we have the classic novel on audiobook as well as the radio dramatization. There is also a 1990 movie adaptation of the novel available for check out.

If you've already exhausted these options, and you're looking for something in a similar vein, here are some suggestions below on what to read after The Handmaid's Tale. For more suggestions on dystopian novels for all ages, take a look at the public lists for Adult Dystopian Fiction, Teen Dystopian Fiction and even Kid's Dystopian Fiction.

Classic dystopian novels include 1984 by George Orwell, A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, The Children of Men by P.D. James, A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, and The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Many of these also have movie adaptations, which can be found on this list.

If you're looking for something lesser known, take a look at A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller, set in a Catholic monastery after a devastating nuclear war and spanning centuries as civilization attempts to rebuild itself from the ground up. In it, the monks of the 'Order of Leibowitz' decide to preserve the last remnants of scientific knowledge until they deem that the outside world is ready for it. There's also The Fireman by Joe Hill, about a terrifying plague that threatens to reduce civilization to ashes and the heroes who attempt to stop it, led by a man known as the Fireman. The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers follows a similar path, in which a rogue virus that kills pregnant women is unleashed on the world. Jessie Lamb is a 16-year-old girl attempting to navigate this new world who is ready to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to save the human race. And in The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist, citizens over the age of 50 without families or jobs are deemed 'dispensable' by the government and sent to a facility to participate in experiments and donate their organs to more 'essential' members of society.

There are also plenty of great dystopian novels for a teen audience. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Divergent by Veronica Roth, The Maze Runner by James Dashner, Red Rising by Pierce Brown, and Uglies by Scott Westerfeld are extremely popular teen dystopian series. Some lesser known titles include Bumped by Megan McCafferty, in which teenaged girls must become fanatically religious wives or expensive surrogate mothers for couples made infertile by a widespread virus, Wither by Lauren DeStefano, where an accident of modern science creates a situation where men die at age 25, women die at age 20, and girls are kidnapped and married off to repopulate the world, and The Jewel by Amy Ewing, in which a poor girl from the inner city is purchased and trained to become a surrogate mother for royal children. In Z for Zachariah by Robert C. O'Brien, a 16-year-old girl who believes she is the last survivor of a nuclear war comes across another survivor with tyranical intentions, and in Unwind by Neal Shusterman teenagers can have their lives 'unwound' and their body parts harvested for others to use.

Last but not least, there are many excellent dystopian books for children. The most well known are probably The Giver series by Lois Lowry, in which a boy becomes one of two people in his society with memories of the past and discovers the dark secrets about the society he lives in. The Last Wild by Piers Torday explores a world in which animals no longer exist. The Among the Hidden series by Margaret Peterson Haddix revolves around a third child living in hiding due to a society where families are only allowed to have 2 children. And in The One Safe Place by Tania Unsworth, a boy earns a coveted spot in a home for abandoned children that promises a near perfect existence: unlimited toys, food and the chance for another family. It isn't until he arrives that he discovers that all is not as it seems.

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Thu, 05/11/2017 - 11:23am


[|Asparagus] season is in full swing in Michigan this time of year! Michigan asparagus season begins in late April-early May in the southwest corner of the state; it wraps up in late June in the north. A recent frost has slowed the initial harvest this season but since the majority of the asparagus crop is still protected underground, it will continue to pop up through the month of June. Asparagus is a member of the lily family, so it has very extensive root systems. It grows mostly along waterways and the roots can go as deep as twelve to twenty feet.

20 Michigan family farms harvest approximately 20 million pounds of asparagus on 9,500 acres of land. It takes four years for an asparagus field to fully mature; fields last for approximately 20 years.
A single asparagus plant can produce 25 or more spears over the 7-week harvest season. During the growing season, asparagus is harvested every day as the spears can grow two to three inches a day. Harvesting stimulates production, when a spear is cut, the plant sends up another shoot. Once the harvest is complete, the remaining spears are allowed to grow up and leaf out. These plants will grow up to six feet tall and, once leafed, will look like giant ferns. This fern is nurtured all summer and feeds the root system for the following year's harvest.

Learn more about this vegetable through many items found in our collection!

Oceana County, Michigan is known as the "Asparagus Capital of the World" for its high production of asparagus.The rich history is shared in the documentary [t:Asparagus! : stalking the American life].

Asparagus is one of the most nutritionally well-balanced vegetables in existence. The leading supplier among vegetables of folic acid and it offers a wide array of nutrients in significant amounts for a healthy diet. Find recipes in [t:Vegetable literacy : cooking and gardening with twelve families from the edible plant kingdom, with over 300 deliciously simple recipes] or [t:Vegan brunch : homestyle recipes worth waking up for-- from asparagus omelets to pumpkin pancakes].

Asparagus can be crafty, [t:The gourmet paper maker : handmade paper from fruits and vegetables].

A little bit wacky and fun to read picture book story for kids is [t:The mighty asparagus].

Learn to hunt this rich vegetable with [a:Gibbons, Euell|Euell Gibbons] classic [t:Stalking the wild asparagus].

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Mon, 03/13/2017 - 4:30pm

[cover_image] B01LTIBWT4|[/cover_image]

[|Logan] opened in theaters on March 3rd to rave reviews and is looking to reshape the superhero movie as we currently know it. Hugh Jackman returns as Wolverine/Logan in his 9th appearance in the role spanning 12 years-- this marks his last appearance as Logan. The film takes inspiration from both the revisited [b:1506535|Old Man Logan] and the original [;jsessionid=563975871FD3054AC86ECB9DDB3B4A35?lang=eng&suite=gold|Old Man Logan] (available through MelCat), as well as [b:1469334|Death of Wolverine]. Whether you've seen it yet or not, the library has plenty of materials to quench your thirst for Wolverine.

Revisit Jackman's previous work as Wolverine with the first and second movies in the Wolverine trilogy: [b:1345790|X-Men Origins: Wolverine] and [b:1441721|The Wolverine]. You can also revisit Wolverine as part of the X-Men, in movies such a[img_assist|nid=357148|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=150]s [b:1297278|X-Men], [b:1297248|X-Men United: X2], [b:1275312|X3:The Last Stand], [b:1391049|X-Men First Class], [b:1461133|X-Men Days of Future Past] and [b:1497993|X-Men Apocalypse]. It's not an X-Men movie, but also take a look at [b:1193914|Shane], which features heavily in Logan and shares similar thematic elements.

Looking for more comic book fun? Give [b:1429401|Wolverine], [b:1273423|Wolverine: Origins & Endings], or [b:1342904|Weapon X] a try. Review Wolverine's past with [b:1333659|Wolverine Omnibus Vol 1], or watch him face off with his former friends in [b:1392210|Wolverine vs. the X-Men].

Kids can also get in on the fun with Readers such as [b:1439573|This is Wolverine], [b:1435234|Marvel Superhero Squad: Adventure Collection]. They can look up key facts about their favorite heroes with [b:1430917| Meet the Marvel Super Heroes], and read comics like [b:1472815|Mini Marvels]. Wolverine even features as one of the superheroes in the [b:1442891|The Super Hero Squad Show series].

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FestiFools and AADL: Something New!

Mon, 03/06/2017 - 9:11am

[img_assist|nid=357643|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=67]Our fellow robots, the time has come to change things up and we at AADL are retiring our robot suits for something new. We want to help keep things fresh for [|FestiFools] fans! This year AADL is hosting [|multiple building workshops] for ALL AGES to help us make two community puppets, and for you to make your own costumes or instruments for the big [|FestiFools] event on Sunday, April 9.

This year we are bringing a big, bright, yellow sun puppet to join in whatever fun the official [|FestiFools] organizers have planned for Ann Arbor! We’ll accompany our GIANT sun on Main Street with all of us decked out in our brightest sunniest YELLOW costumes as we march to fantastic beats. Onlookers will see so much YELLOW parading down Main Street! (Robots are always welcome at [|FestiFools], AADL just isn't hosting workshops to make them.)

We will have opportunities to papier–mâché, paint fabric, make a sunshiney costume with capes and masks, make a drum, and more. We are SO excited to have you join us in helping make [|FestiFools] even more foolish and bright this year!

[|Festifools Workshop: Community Puppet Building] Sunday, March 19 from 1:00-3:00
All ages will work together to help make a GIANT sun puppet that we’ll all march down Main St. at the BIG FestiFools event on Sunday, April 9! It will march alongside a mysterious surprise creature that you will help create in bits and pieces. While you won’t be making your own puppet at this workshop, you’ll have a chance to work together to be a part of something BIGGER that all will see.

[|FestiFools Workshop: Costume Making] Sunday, March 26 from 1:00-3:00
Create your own costume to be worn while marching down Main St. at the BIG FestiFools event on Sunday, April 9! We are bringing a GIANT sun puppet to FestiFools and we need you to be the yellow rays to go with it. We’ll have supplies for capes, wings, hats, masks, and more – many golden yellow supplies to help make us into bright glowing orbs.

[|FestiFools Workshop: Make Instruments with Drummunity] Sunday, April 2, 2017 from 1:00-2:00
Lori Fithian of Drummunity will help us make simple percussive instruments.
Meet back up with us on April 9 at the BIG FestiFools event ready to march along playing your instrument while wearing the most yellow sunshiny costume you can come up with. Picture a GIANT yellow sun with many marching alongside beaming with gold and playing music.

[|FestiFools Workshop: March with Drummunity] Sunday, April 2 from 2:15-3:00
Lori Fithian of Drummunity will lead us in making the most of our unique musical instruments, getting us in the FestiFools spirit with a mini march.
Bring your own instrument or come to the instrument-making workshop right before this. Then meet back up with us on April 9 ready to march along in the BIG FestiFools event, playing your instrument while wearing the most foolish yellow costume you can come up with.

[|Meet Up and March Over to FestiFools!] Sunday, April 9 at 3:30pm
Calling all fools! Meet us in the lobby in your most foolish costumes ready to march over to Main Street and join in the FestiFools fun from 4:00 - 5:00 pm. We library fools are all wearing yellow to surround the sun! So dress in yellow, dress in costume, be silly, and bring your instruments! Get ready to make some noise and spread some cheer in downtown Ann Arbor!

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More Armored Bears!

Mon, 02/27/2017 - 12:34pm


Hiding in a cupboard in the Master's room at Oxford, Lyra Belacqua sees him try to poison her uncle, an important northern explorer and scientist. Lyra's daemon, Pan - an external animal manifestation of her soul creature, something between a patronus and animal familiar - urges her to leave quietly, but Lyra decides instead to warn her uncle. In doing so, she aligns herself with his quest to understand the northern lights and to build a bridge to another world. Pullman's trilogy takes place in a multiverse that spans something like WWI England, contemporary America, and a separate universe called Cittegaze, with its own rules of soul and substance. The "northern lights" trilogy, made of [:catalog/record/1110653|The Golden Compass], [:catalog/record/1128059|The Subtle Knife], and [:catalog/record/1171810|The Amber Spyglass], won several prestigious awards and was made into a series of films (see [:catalog/record/1310620]). Pullman's trilogy has long been a favorite series to recommend to precocious young readers and teens looking to explore new literary worlds, much as Lyra bridges the universes of the books with her daemon in tow. For every young person today who has sorted themselves into Gryffindor, imagined a pet owl or rat, or wishes they could play quidditch, there's a slightly older person who has imagined themselves a daemon that changes animal forms depending on their true internal state, who has re-read Pullman's trilogy or read it aloud to their children and wondered about the fate of the armored polar bears.

We will soon get another installment of the bears, Lyra, and her northern journeys, because Philip Pullman recently announced a new trilogy to be released in fall 2017! "The Dust," the first new book takes place during the same historical timeline as the original trilogy. This is a great opportunity to go back to Pullman, who challenged young readers and older science fiction devotees to think about humanity's role in global destruction, who challenged the religious tenets of many YA series like the [:catalog/record/1260798|The Chronicles of Narnia], and who imagined a multiverse based on a particle physics decades before Steven Hawking. The series rewards re-readers and celebrates the power of children's curiosity.

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After you've finished Colson Whitehead's Underground Railroad

Wed, 02/08/2017 - 2:22pm


If you're one of the hundreds of patrons who have checked out and enjoyed Colson Whiteheads award winning novel, [:catalog/record/1493023114|Underground Railroad], you might be looking for another narrative journey about slavery, freedom and the routes in between. These novels are rich with historical detail, sense of place and the weight of telling long-hidden stories. Their flinty, insightful heroines struggle against systems that define them as property, and also against the pull of "home" with their enslaved family and friends.

James McBride's novel about a runaway slave who learns to follow a "code" of five knots invokes oral histories of maroons, parables about freedom and captivity, and the fierce will of it's main character to live a free life. Sue Monk Kidd's recently well received novel, [:catalog/record/1438876|The Invention of Wings] tells the story of Hetty "handful" Jackson/Grimke, who grows up belonging to the famous 19th century abolitionist and feminist Sarah Grimke. Hetty's nickname is well earned, and this novel tells the story alternating between her inner monologue and Sarah's, giving readers an intricate picture of slave and free black society at the time. Edward Jones's pulitzer prize winning [:catalog/record/1210306|The Known World] which follows Frederick Douglass' journey to Ireland and back, before and after his manumission.

Octavia Butler's [:catalog/record/1014084|Kindred] is the foremother for all of these more recent novels about captivity and escape. Kindred uses science fiction tropes of time travel to explore the dangers of living in Maryland as a free black woman during slavery, and as a black female author telling a story about slavery. Like [t:The Known World], [t:Kindred] jumps between slavery and freedom, questioning how one state depends on the other.

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Blind Date with a Book and Surprise Books for Kids!!

Wed, 02/01/2017 - 9:00am


Stop by any of the AADL locations for a sweet February surprise!

Adults and teens will find Blind Date with a Book displays, where one can hopefully find the mysterious item of their dreams! Books (and movies!) are wrapped in butcher paper and decorated with hearts in red, pink and purple. They have a short description of what the material inside contains… but you’ll have to check out the item and take it home to unwrap to find out if it’s really meant for you!

Kids aren’t left out either! There are Surprise displays at every location too, where kids will find mystery items decorated with stars and question marks in bright rainbow colors, and wrapped up with only hints written on them to imply what’s inside.

These displays will be up for the entire month of February, so don’t miss your chance to find your match!

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Friendship, Racism, and Courageous Love

Sat, 01/28/2017 - 11:26am


When an old friendship turns stale as you both change with age, what does loyalty and love look like? How do you decide who you are beneath the desire to be accepted? When a town trembles like a waiting bomb in the tension of racism, how do you be part of the healing when things fall apart?

Superbly written and deeply felt, [b:1498025|Every Single Second] by [a:Springstubb, Tricia|Tricia Springstubb] is a densely layered exploration of what makes each of our moments significant. Through alternating glimpses of past and present, we follow the friendship of "secret sisters" Nella and Angela from Kindergarten through the start of Jr. High. Nella has been a refuge for Angela in the midst of a difficult family life, and Angela has protected Nella from some of her biggest mistakes. In the present, everything has suddenly shifted: their Catholic private school is closing down, Nella discovers a family secret that turns what she trusted in most upside down, and the big brother they both looked up to has made an un-fixable, shocking mistake. Nella and Angela need each other more than ever, but by now they have little in common, and the gap between them has become a gulf. Will Nella choose to be the hands and feet of love, or push farther into the care-free world of fun with her newer best friend Clem? Even if she wanted to help, the hurt between them may have pushed Angela out of reach.

The heroes in this story are outside the spotlight--quiet and courageous souls who walk into riots with gentle words of peace, give all their savings to help a grieving family of a different race, and go forward out of haunting mistakes to live their next days with goodness. Gently enough told for the young, and complex enough for those older, this is a story about where the strength comes from to meet tragedy and disappointment with fearless, courageous love.

*For more stories about friendship, big changes, and finding courage see Tricia Springstubb's other titles [b:1468140|Moonpenny Island] and [b:1367698|What Happened On Fox Street] *

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From the Page to the Screen: Hidden Figures

Fri, 01/13/2017 - 1:59pm


The new movie [|Hidden Figures] is in theaters now, and is already generating positive reviews and a plethora of award nominations. This amazing true story, first published as [b:1496469| Hidden Figures: the American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race] by Margot Lee Shetterly, chronicles the trials and tribulations of a group of extraordinarily talented and dedicated African American female mathematicians, whose calculations launched John Glenn into Earth's orbit and won the space race. These "human computers" used slide rules, pencils, and adding machines to perform the advanced mathematics needed to calculate trajectories, launch windows, and navigational charts in case of electrical failures, among others. These brave women faced adversity through sexism and segregation, but persevere through it all to become key players in evolution of NASA and space exploration. This amazing story is also available on [b:1499766| audiobook] and [b:1499982|Large Print].

Author Margot Lee Shetterly will be speaking at Rackham Auditorium on January 24th from 4-8:15 PM. More information is available [|here].

Looking to learn more about the phenomenal women scientists that propelled us into space? Check out [b:1490344| Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars] (also available [b:1496442|here] in Large Print. Or learn more about the many women who have since traveled to outer space through items such as [b:1215047| Promised the Moon], [b:1335692| Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream], and [b:1348684| Astronaut Pam: Countdown to Commander] (an especially interesting nonfiction movie that follows Commander Pam Melroy and her crew aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery). We also have books about women inventors, such as [b:1262497| Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women].

Also check out our resources regarding two very famous pioneering female astronauts: Mae Jemison and Sally Ride. Books on Sally Ride for an adult audience include [b:1480733| this photobiography] and [b:1452149|Sally Ride: America's First Woman in Space]. [b:1486458| To the Stars], [b:1460437| Sally Ride: Life on a Mission], and [b:1460762|Who Was Sally Ride?] are all intended for kids interested in learning more about Sally Ride. We also have many resources on Mae Jemison, the first African American woman to travel to space, such as [b:1468226| this biography], [b:1498844| You Should Meet Mae Jemison] or [b:1460746| Mae Jemison, Awesome Astronaut!]. You can even read books written by the astronaut herself, such as [b:1460718| The 100 Year Starship].

Just into space? We have lots for you to check out here at the library, such as [b:1468041| Eyewitness Space Exploration], or the [b:1315327| Astronaut Handbook]. [b:1261850| The Dream is Alive] is a fascinating DVD that uncovers life on a space station, and witnesses the first space walk performed by an American woman. We also have a [:node/347117|Library Space Camp] program for kids coming on Thursday, April 6th at the Downtown branch, where you can learn all about what makes a successful astronaut and complete cool space activities.

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A watch with super powers...

Sat, 12/31/2016 - 2:16am


A watch with super powers, an underground gestapo, an expert climber, and a mysterious lighthouse...follow Reuben in this swashbuckling adventure as a very scared, ordinary boy fights evil with true friendship, hard choices, and a big dose of courage. [a:Stewart, Trenton Lee|Trenton Lee Stewart] gave the world [t:The Mysterious Benedict Society|The Mysterious Benedict Society]--one of the best things to happen to children's literature since [t:Harry Potter|Harry Potter]. Now, Stewart's new stand alone novel [b:1499021|The Secret Keepers] has arrived to take fantasy lovers (or just lovers of great story!) by the pant-seat.

The writing is superb, the characters shine, the relationships sparkle, and the layers of story exude goodness from their pores. Stewart's characters wrestle with moral dilemmas that don't have easy answers, and come to understand the internal slavery of those who propagate evil, exercising compassion.

Both a powerful look at the sinister spiral of power's addictive nature and a bracing encouragement, the [b:1499021|The Secret Keepers] affirms that whatever battles we each must find the courage to fight, all will be well at last. When you rub your eyes to come back to reality, your heart will glow treasuring the life you have been gifted and the people in it that make it extraordinary.