Urban Fiction writer, Earl Sewell, will be at Alma Powell Library July 30 at 6:00 pm. Mr. Sewell is not only an urban fiction writer but he also writes a series of teen books for Kimani Tru. I've read a couple from his teen series called Keysha's drama series. I enjoyed Maya's Choice and If I were your boyfriend. One of the things I liked about Mr. Sewell's teen books is that they are very diverse and culture wise. Many teens would find a lot to identify with, if not for themselves then for some of their friends. Mr. Sewell addresses a great deal of the challenges young people face today. In Maya's Choice Maya's cousin, Viviana, moves in and it makes life difficult for Maya and her life begins to fall apart. In If I were your boyfriend Keysha has a lot to learn and life changing decisions to make.
If you're a urban fiction lover or like teen books that are full of life challenges then please join us to meet and hear from our guest Earl Sewell.
We estimate close to 1,000 attended the “Banned Books Art Hop and Read Out” here on Friday evening!
If you attended, you saw the wide array of artistic interpretations of the six banned or challenged books and heard emotional readings from all six of them. I heard several attendees whisper that they were surprised at the books, surprised that someone in some community had challenged that particular book.
Banned Books Art Contest Winners
- Overall Senior Winner ($1000 – Randal Brumitt, “The Hope List”
- Overall Junior Winner ($150) – Hannah Higgins, “Huck Finn”
- 1st Runner-Up Junior Winner ($100) – Maryangela Thornton, “Stay Alive”
- 2nd Runner-Up Junior Winner ($50) – Maureen Reed, “Huck & Jim”
- Honorable Mention Senior (TIE)
– Cathy Germay, “No Nigger”
– Kaitlynn Radabaugh, “Stand Up”
- Honorable Mention Junior – Essence Cline Coe, “The Good Life”
- People’s Choice Senior – Cathy Germay, “No Nigger”
- People’s Choice Junior – Maureen Reed, “Huck & Jim”
The winners are listed on our website, the books are available in our collection... they aren’t banned in Kalamazoo.
This annual event gives us pause to celebrate the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment.
Author Deborah Ann Percy reads from “Hunger Games” during the Banned Books Art Hop and Read Out.
Recently at the Alma Powell Branch we did a teen program called Pizza and Pages. We read and discussed the book Sweet, Hereafter by Angela Johnson and I bet everyone knows what we did with the pizza part of Pizza and Pages. The book was a great pick for our first book discussion. It was a 117 page easy read. It was thought provoking and infectious. Once we started reading it was hard to put down. What really surprised me, though, was that it was a time warp; it could’ve been any generation or any war era. Angela Johnson achieved what all great artists try to achieve. She filled our minds with questions. Who was Alice? Was Sweet a girl or a boy? Which war time was it? And lots more!
Everyone is looking forward to Powell’s next Pizza and Pages!
On July 6, the Kalamazoo Public Library was honored to host the World Premiere of author Bonnie Jo Campbell’s newest novel Once Upon A River. The novel that has been listed by NPR, CNN, Newsweek and The Daily Beast as being a “must read” and essential summer novel. These accolades should not lead you to believe it is a beach read because it has been earning critical praise from publications such as Entertainment Weekly, Detroit Free Press, and the Wall Street Journal. Recently the Washington Post critic Ron Charles wrote, “The wonder of Once Upon a River is how fresh and weathered it seems at the same time. Ardently turning these pages, I felt as though I’d been waiting for this book and yet somehow already knew it. After her critically acclaimed collection of short stories, American Salvage, Bonnie Jo Campbell has built her new novel like a modern-day craftsman from the old timbers of our national myths about loners living off the land, rugged tales as perilous as they are alluring. Without sacrificing any of its originality, this story comes bearing the saw marks of classic American literature, the rough-hewn sister of The Leatherstocking Tales, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Walden.”
After Bonnie acknowledged many of the people in the audience who contributed to the book in some way or another, the evening started with a reading of the first chapter which introduced the main protagonist of the novel, Margo. She is a character who possesses a tremendous amount of spirit and adventure that can only be found in the citizens of southwest Michigan. The reading was followed up with an informative and entertaining Q&A. Bonnie answered a variety of questions about the writing process as well as inspiration for the book. The over 160 in the crowd were treated to an education!
Most in the crowd agree that Once Upon A River deserves similar, if not more accolades than her previous book the National Book Award Finalist, American Salvage. If this novel is not on multiple “Best of 2011” lists I will be shocked! I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of Once Upon A River in the mail a few months ago. After reading the first 50 pages, I turned to my wife and stated that it was the best books I had read in years. I then proceeded to neglect my family and friends until I finished the book. Check out a copy or place one on hold, but be sure to prepare your family for your absence because you will be floating down the river lost in an amazing book.
Bonnie Jo Campbell @ KPL
Kalamazoo Public Library was very pleased to host illustrator Kim Shaw in an Anti Bullying Art Workshop. Kim presented her newest book, The Juice Box Bully, and then led a lively discussion on bullies and friendship. It was clear from the response of the school aged and adult audience that the topic is more timely than ever.
Kim then led an interactive drawing workshop wherein everyone had the opportunity to learn and practice some great drawing skills. Kids especially enjoyed this part - essentially a a small intro to drawing class for nearly fifty! Lots of nice drawings emerged from the Van Deusen room.
Kim created the art for The Juice Box Bully based on Kalamazoo's Woodward School for Technology and Research. Listen to Kim discuss how that real-life school influenced her illustrations.
Anti Bully Art Workshop
This past week author Cynthia Leitich Smith visited Kalamazoo for a few days. While here she visited with students at Woods Lake and Northglade elementary schools and with a group of teens at the Kalamazoo County Juvenile Home. On Friday, she was the keynote speaker for KPL’s annual Mary Calletto Rife Youth Literature Seminar. The theme was “Crossing Borders” and all of the speakers addressed the idea that books for kids and teens help them understand, appreciate, and relate to others in their diverse communities, despite a wide variety of differences and borders.
Other speakers at the seminar were Beth Amidon and Maria Perez-Stable from Western Michigan University, Gillian Engberg, from the American Library Association’s “Booklist” journal, and Debbie Reese from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. The seminar was wonderful . . . with much thoughtful discussion about books and kids and reading!
After the visit to Kalamazoo, both Cynthia and Debbie posted blogs on their websites: www.cynthialeitichsmith.com and www.americanindiansinchildrensliterature.net/.
We had a great time last week with this group of very talented writers and scholars. If you’d like to be added to the mailing list for information about next November’s seminar, contact Mary Knowles. See more photos of the 2010 Youth Literature Seminar on KPL’s Flickr photostream.
Those who packed Van Deusen Room were very privileged to hear David Small discuss the story and process behind his National Book Award nominated graphic memoir, Stitches, in a world premiere event on September 10, 2009.
The interview was set-up to resemble the popular television show Inside the Actor’s Studio, which provided David with a casual atmosphere to discuss Stitches. He answered a variety of questions about his life growing up in 1950’s Detroit with a family that could hardly be described as tightly knit.
The presentation also included some fabulous animated videos of the books, shots of sketches, and panel by panel storyboards. David was candid about both the physical and emotional wounds which took years to finally stitch together into a memoir that will touch many lives.
A second David Small visit is being planned for 2010, so please check the website often for more details.
David Small’s Presentation
Listen to David Small’s presentation (44:52)
Download David Small’s presentation as a podcast (MP3 audio file)
Watch David’s complete presentation in the series of videos below.
Michael Zadoorian grew up in a suburb of the Motor City, so it makes sense that the characters in his new novel The Leisure Seeker travel on a classic American road, Route 66. This novel is easily one of the best love stories I have read in years. John and Ella are taking one last trip in their “recreational sarcophagus” before their serious medical conditions overtake them. John has Alzheimer’s and Ella is riddled with cancer, but that does not stop them from going to pay homage to the “Mouse” in Anaheim.
On July 22nd, Zadoorian visited KPL to provide the background to this hilarious and touching novel. It gave all who attended insight on how true love can survive sickness, roadside diners, and lack of air-conditioning in Texas.
The Leisure Seeker
Writing effectively is a struggle for many of us, but in the end it can (and should) be an incredibly satisfying experience. On July 1st, Jo Wiley led a creative writing workshop at the Oshtemo Branch Library, exploring “a variety of creative writing genres.” Participants were invited to bring along their creative ideas and ask questions about the writing process and publishing.
With more than a dozen participants registered, the program was highly successful. Here are a few follow-up notes from the program facilitator that shed light on the scope of the workshop...
“After a general discussion about why we, in particular, write and then, in general, why writers write, I introduced the participants to the concept of poetry’s ‘abiding image,’” said Ms. Wiley, “and they did a multi-stepped exercise resulting in them establishing an ‘abiding image’ for themselves. Using their responses to the exercise, I then introduced development strategies for poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction. I offered them the option of developing a poem at home and mailing it to me for feedback, if they’d like.”
A full-time instructor at Western Michigan University’s Haworth College of Business, Jo Wiley was the recipient of the 2009 Community Literary Award for Adult Poetry, an annual competition sponsored by the Kalamazoo Gazette, Kalamazoo Public Library and Portage District Library.
“With poetry,” she added, “we talked a lot about language and structure; fiction we reviewed the ‘seven basic plots,’ and then creative nonfiction we talked mostly about the differences between CNF and fiction and when and why writers chose one over the other. I ended the workshop with some information and discussion on ‘the writer's life’ and publishing.”
With a primary interest in creative nonfiction, the same group plans to meet later in the month to focus on essay writing.
Jerry Garcia said the trouble started with comics. Author David Hajdu, who visited KPL on June 4, quoted the late Grateful Dead guitarist who claimed rock and roll culture — a romanticizing and escalation of violence, a cynicism toward authority and formal institutions, governments, schools — shouldn’t be blamed on Elvis. No, it went back further, to the 1940s, in the pages of comic books.
Not just any comic books, but a pulpy breed with a mean streak that turned the notion of comic book hero inside out. Not only were these books filled with violence, but the protagonist often was a perpetrator of it. Readers had voracious appetites for these stories, which crossed boundaries of gender and class. In those days, some 60 to 100 million comic books were sold each week. Reading comic books and trading them with friends was the most popular form of entertainment.
As this new breed of comics came to the forefront, kids seemed to change and parents took notice, Hajdu said. Then came “the clash” and the comics controversy was caught up in the larger Post-War “red scare.” The details of these times are captured in Hajdu’s book The Ten Cent Plague: The Great Comics Scare and How it Changed America.
Listed on many of 2008’s “best books” lists, The Ten Cent Plague is the third book for David Hajdu, music critic for The New Republic and a professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Hajdu says he is drawn to untold stories.
The untold story in Hajdu’s first book Lush Life: A Biography of Billy Strayhorn, was about the composer and arranger of jazz who worked with Duke Ellington for some 30 years. You may think “Ellington” when you hear “Take the ‘A’ Train,” but you should also think “Billy Strayhorn.” Strayhorn was pure genius, but the glory went to Ellington.
After compiling this history of jazz musicians in Harlem and Paris, Hajdu went on to explore another facet of American music: the folk scene of early 1960s Greenwich Village. Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Fariña and Richard Fariña dishes on these musicians and their contributions and examines how Dylan became Dylan.
Check out Hajdu’s books, all of which are in KPL’s collections, and read his music columns in The New Republic.
The Ten Cent Plague: The Great Comics Scare and How it Changed America