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Sometimes, the best stories come from our own lives

Kayla Pennoyer is an information desk clerk at AADL.

Kayla Pennoyer is an information desk clerk at AADL.

“Stories We Tell,” a documentary directed by the accomplished Sarah Polley, showcases the idea of storytelling as an art form. Intrigued by the life of her deceased mother, she interviews members of her family and others linked to Diane Polley to uncover the truth. Sarah was born to older parents, and her family often joked that she looked nothing like her father. While researching Diane’s past as an actress in Montreal, Sarah finds more than she bargained for … and opens the door to a new reality.

The film takes viewers on an emotional ride that gradually reveals the relationship of each storyteller to Sarah, who layers their raw emotion with staged footage and family photos. Each person has their own version of the story that weaves into the others for a nearly complete tapestry. As said in the film, many of the best stories come from within one’s own life rather than outside of it.

“Stories We Tell” was shortlisted for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2013.

Scientist Barbara Ehrenreich revisits childhood mission

Anne Martino is an information desk clerk at the Pittsfield branch of the AADL.

Anne Martino is an information desk clerk at the Pittsfield branch of the AADL.

I became a fan of Barbara Ehrenreich after reading her 2001 book “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America.” Her latest book, “Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever’s Search for the Truth About Everything,” is currently at the top of my to-read list, based on a review I just read in the monthly book review journal BookPage, available for free at all AADL locations.

Ehrenreich, a scientist who has described herself as a “fourth-generation atheist,” is a leading thinker and fabulous writer. “Living with a Wild God,” a blend of memoir and metaphysical reflection, is reviewed under the headline, “An atheist reconsiders the human ‘situation.’” In her book, Ehrenreich writes about her childhood quest to find answers to universal questions such as “Why are we here?” As a middle-aged woman, she revisits her childhood mission and tells BookPage that yes, she believes that she has risen to the challenge made by her 1958 self, “What have you learned since you wrote this?”

 ‘Child in a Strange Country’ kicks off June events 

Al Sjoerdsma is a technohost in community relations & marketing at the AADL.

Al Sjoerdsma is a technohost in community relations & marketing at the AADL.

The new, interactive, traveling exhibit “Child in a Strange Country: Helen Keller and the History of Education for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired” from the Museum of the American Printing House for the Blind, is currently on display at the Downtown Library through June 25.

Fun and informative, the exhibit features a giant globe with raised features, selections of writing for the blind such as Valentin Hauy’s raised tactile book and Louis Braille’s dot code, and insights, events and photographs from Keller’s life.

The title of the exhibit comes from Anne Sullivan’s report about Helen in which she said, “For the first two years of her intellectual life she was like a child in a strange country,” and noted that no learning was possible until she could overcome the communication barrier posed by blindness and deafness. The exhibit is designed to be fully accessible to all. You can touch and explore that big globe as much as you want.

Several June events will be held in conjunction with the exhibit. The moving documentary “Going Blind” will be screened on June 15, and kids in grades K-five can learn about Braille at Read With Feeling on June 17 and Craft Your Name in Braille on June 20. Visit aadl.org/events for details.


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