Sunday, 30 October 2011

Sunday October 30th, 2011 Don’t turn out the lights: Horror at the Library

Tomorrow is Halloween, the perfect night for a horror story. Visit one of your Thunder Bay Public Library branches and pick up some terrifying reads. If you are not sure what to start with try one of these scary, scream out loud suggestions.

Let’s start with one of the most chilling stories, The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty, published in 1971. No one can explain 11 year old Regan’s strange illness. When the little girl begins to psychologically change and develop frightening physical features, two Jesuit priests are called upon to save Regan’s life from what they believe is a demonic possession. If the book doesn’t scare you enough, try watching the movie which was produced shortly after the book was released. Both are available at the Library.

If the possessed little girl in Blatty’s novel didn’t frighten you then meet Damien, a little boy believed to be the Antichrist. The Omen by David Seltzer is the horrifying story of Robert and Katherine Thorn, their son Damien and the mysterious, deadly events that seem to follow them. This novel will definitely scare you but the suspense will make you want read on and find out what happens to Damien and his parents.

Why not spend the evening with Thomas Harris’ haunting character Dr. Hannibal Lecter; a psychiatrist, a killer and a cannibal. Harris introduces Dr. Lecter in his first book Red Dragon (1981) and continues the story in the Silence of the Lambs (1988), Hannibal (1999), and the prequel, Hannibal Rising (2006). The Hannibal Lecter series were made into films, which are also available at the library along with the novels.

Imagine being secluded in a haunted hotel that has the power to control both the living and the dead. This is the setting of Stephen King’s The Shining. When the Torrance family, Jack, Wendy and their special son Danny, decide to spend the winter as caretakers for the Overlook Hotel, their lives are put in danger when the hotel’s evil forces start to take over. Read more spine-chilling stories by Stephen King such as Carrie, It, and Pet Sematary.

Another frightening setting is the possessed house in The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson. The book is based on the Lutz family’s short time living in an old house in Amityville where paranormal activity terrorizes the family, causing them to flee. Even though there has been controversy over whether the events that took place are true, the book will still give you the creeps.

If you’re a fan of zombies and have not seen the new tv series Walking Dead (the complete first season is available at the Library), then start by reading the graphic novels by Robert Kirkman. Walking Dead is the story of one survivor trying to find his family in a world taken over by human-eating zombies.

A similar story is Richard Matheson’s novel I am Legend written in 1954. The sole survivor, Robert Neville is caught in a world where disease has turned people into vampires. You may be more familiar with the recent movie starring Will Smith where he plays a lone survivor of an incurable virus that has turned humanity into mutants. Outnumbered by the living dead, will any of these characters survive?

So get a little scared this Halloween by reading, or watching, a horror story. You may be so frightened that you will want to sleep with the lights on.

Lindsey Long

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Sunday October 23rd, 2011 Witches and Families

Why do we celebrate Halloween? One reason is that it’s a Celtic pagan holdover of celebrating the change in seasons. Raymond Buckland (The Witch Book: the Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wicca and Neo-Paganism, 2002) writes, “ the name for the Witchcraft Greater Sabbat that falls on November Eve. It is popularly known by non-Witches as Hallowe’en.” According to Buckland this is “the start of the winter season when, long ago, humankind had to go back to hunting animals for food.”

More importantly, and the reason why we associate ghosts and goblins with Halloween is because “Samhain is a time when Witches believe that the veil between the worlds is thin.” That is, our world and the spirit world drew closer.

To strengthen this connection witchcraft in 17th century Europe involved imps; better known as familiars. The familiar was a link between the witch and the devil after a pact was made. It was a devil in disguise. It could appear in the form of mice, dogs, cats, chickens, rabbits, turkeys, snakes, rats, toads, pole-cats or as composite monsters “ a black rat with a swine’s face and a boar’s a mouse with a man’s face and a long beard.” (Witches and Witch-hunts: a History of Persecution by Milton Meltzer, 1999; The Bewitching of Anne Gunter by James Sharpe, 2000).

The suggestion of the mere presence of such an animal could have been enough to start a witch-hunt, and that would likely end badly for the accused witch. Indeed unfair social practices precipitated the need for the belief in a process such as witchcraft to level the playing field.

James Sharpe writes that witchcraft accusations would erupt between feuding people or families, whether over money or unrequited love. As he puts it, “Witchcraft involved power, and one way of understanding it at the level of the local community is to see it as a way in which the relatively powerless were thought to be able to gain access to power.” In other words, instead of revenge or justice through physical violence or litigation, witchcraft could be used to harm others, protect self, or kill crops and livestock.

But is witchcraft even real? Can humans consort with impish familiars to kill livestock and bewitch neighbours to madness or death? Or is belief in magic simply delusional thinking? Such questions were being asked in the mid-1600s, likely even earlier. (Sometimes answers were even given in medical rather than supernatural terms).

Belief in witchcraft has caused its mention in written law since the time of Hammurabi around 3000 B.C. Thousands of years later, in 1604, England passed laws forbidding the use of witchcraft. And even in the modern Canadian Criminal Code, section 365 has provisions against anyone who “fraudulently pretends to exercise or to use any kind of witchcraft, sorcery, enchantment or conjuration”. The key word is fraudulently.

But what if witchcraft is real? When you consider that Sir Isaac Newton, one of the fathers of modern science was himself an alchemist, a practice in which conjuration was not un-common, perhaps there is something to it (Isaac Newton: the Last Sorcerer by Michael White, 1997).

Likewise, modern quantum scientists like Amit Goswami (God is Not Dead, 2008) and Dean Radin (Entangled Minds, 2006) talk extensively about the observer effect and quantum interference devices both of which hint at the possibility of mind over matter. Truly there is something worth investigating.

The question then becomes, are there imps, and how can they make my magic stronger?

Chris Waite

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Sunday October 16th, 2011 Clutter

I hate clutter – it’s chaotic and it makes me feel claustrophobic and downright irritable. Trouble is, I’m also not too keen on cleaning it up. And no, it is not because I am lazy. It’s just that cleaning and tidying is the original never-ending story: you clean, it gets messy; you clean, it gets messy, you clean, it ... well, you get the idea. I shudder when I think of the amount of precious time that I have wasted cleaning out closets filled with useless paraphernalia and shoulder-padded suits that could resurrect the ‘80’s. But, whether I like it or not, Fall is here and it’s time to organize for the winter.

Of course, if you’re anything like my husband, your solution is A GARAGE SALE! Unfortunately, this has been his remedy for the last five autumns and although it solves the problem in the short term (and generates a bit of cash) the rest of the year that he spends accumulating treasures from other garage, yard and rummage sales seems to defeat the original purpose. A point which I have endeavoured to explain many times using simple, one-syllable words in the nicest possible manner.

Judging from the number of books, articles and television programs devoted to sorting and organizing one’s house, I am not alone in my quest for the definitive clutter cure. And, since I work at the Thunder Bay Public Library, it occurs to me that I have easy access to many of the best ideas. Come to think of it, so do you!


There’s hope. You CAN win the chore wars and calm the chaos! Wittmann offers 101 quick and easy projects to conquer clutter and organize your home once and for all. Orderly bliss is within reach. And afterwards you can take time to enjoy your life.


We all suffer from an accumulation of clutter in our homes but it is how we manage to control it that is important. Hoarding too many old possessions imprisons us in the past and preventsus from moving on. This ULTIMATE GUIDE will help you disc ard what you don’t need in your home to create a positive environment that will inspire your confidence, creativity and health!

CLUTTER JUNKIE NO MORE by Barb Rogers. c2007

If you are tired of being surrounded by so much stuff that you don’t know what you have and you sincerely want to change how you are living, then this is the twelve-step approach for you. It is not another how-to-get-organized book. Instead, it seriously addresses the clutter addiction and offers ways to change our emotional and psychological motivations for cluttering.


Peter Walsh believes that your home, your head, your heart and your hips are intimately connected. Here, he explores the relationship between weight in your home and the weight on your hips. His philosophy on clearing clutter (household fat) is to focus on living the life you deserve in the body you want and, to this end, he offers tips on how to cleanup and clear out the spaces where you cook, eat and live.

So... now you are organized and clutter-free. Sit back, put your feet up, grab a cup of something and survey your domain with self-satisfaction and pride. Savour the orderliness, the calm. Think about what you will do with all your spare time. Think about the places you will go, the shopping you will do and the library books you will read. DO NOT, under any circumstances, think about what your husband will drag home from the neighbour’s next yard sale.

Jill Otto

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Sunday October 9th, 2011 For the Children

When I discovered that I would be writing an article for October I decided to do my research and find out what is pertinent to the autumnal month. I discovered that October third is Child Health Day, October eighth is National Children’s Day and October second to the eighth is national School Lunch Week. October tenth is Thanksgiving and the ever popular children’s holiday All Hallows Eve is on the thirty-first. After all of this information gathering I decided what better a topic for the month of October than children.

The Thunder Bay Public Library has an amazing children’s collection. It contains everything necessary to develop a lifelong love of literacy. For the babies, toddlers and preschoolers there are a variety of programs designed specifically for your child’s developmental stage. Baby Bumblebees and Beginning with Books are two presentations offered that one can attend without prior registration. Preschool Storytime and Tales for Twos are ongoing programs that parents can sign their children up for in advance. All of the presentations entail stories, songs and activities.

We also have an amazing collection of picture books in board book, hard cover and paperback. Here a few of my personal favourites: FLETCHER AND THE FALLING LEAVES, PINKALICIOUS, SKIPPYJON JONES; STELLA and CAN’T YOU SLEEP LITTLE BEAR?

For your beginner readers the library offers the Readers are Leaders program in which a volunteer reads with your child and helps develop reading skills. Our collection has many EZRead books which are specifically designed to encourage recognition of high frequency words. AMELIA BEDELIA and her classic faux pas are entertaining to read. The variety of Spider-man and Batman are popular with the boys. MINNIE AND MOO and their many hilarious adventures are my favourite EZReads.

The collection also contains magazines and graphic novels. The Archie comics, BONE and ARTEMIS FOWL are great graphic novels for the intermediate reader. CANADAIN GEOGRAPHIC FOR KIDS and OWL are popular with the non-fiction readers. Our non-fiction collection covers subject matter ranging from mythology to astronomy, paleontology to chemistry, ancient civilizations to art and geography. Everything your child could possibly need when researching for a project for school or perhaps they just have a natural curiosity about the world around them.

The collection contains many series books. These books allow children to read about the many adventures of the same characters. These books are great for developing comprehension skills as the setting and characters are familiar and the story lines are similar. The MAGIC TREE HOUSE, THE FAIRIES, GERONIMO STILTON, THE AMAZING DAYS OF ABBY HAYES, and of course the classic NANCY DREW and HARDY BOYS are available for your child’s entertainment.

If your children like to listen to stories instead of reading them, audiobooks are available as well. These come in cd, mp3 or playaway format and are great for the many of you who spend a lot of time in your car. We have music cds, cd-rom programs for your computer and movies in both vhs and dvd format.

Now, for my favourite part of the children’s collection, the novels. Fiction novels and paperbacks come in a variety of levels. I encourage any of you to explore Rowling’s incredibly detailed world of HARRY POTTER, Oppel’s AIRBORN adventures, Colfer’s AIRMAN, Wilder’s LITTLE HOUSE tales, Dahl’s quirky characters and their many misadventures, Levine’s ELLA ENCHANTED, Pullman’s brilliantly written THE DARK MATERIALS , C. S. Lewis’ mysterious realms and Montgomery’s ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, definitely a kindred spirit. These and so many more have I shared my time with. I could go on and on about how great these books are but might I suggest you come on down and take a look for yourself?

Cindy Visser-DiCarlo

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Sunday October 2nd, 2011 International Festival of Authors

Hopefully you have heard about an exciting event coming up October 16th here in Thunder Bay. The International Festival of Authors Thunder Bay is presented in partnership with Authors at the Harbourfront Centre, International Festival of Authors Ontario, Sleeping Giant Writers Festival, Northern Woman’s Bookstore, Lakehead University, and the Thunder Bay Public Library. We are beyond excited to welcome James Bartleman, Johanna Skibsrud, and Jane Urquhart to read at the Prince Arthur Hotel on the evening of the 16th. In today’s Library Detective I’d like to share with you my first awareness of these authors.

My first encounter with any of these authors was on my high school summer reading list. Jane Urquhart’s Away was one of the selections (the only one I can remember now) and I thoroughly enjoyed it. That summer, I borrowed Changing Heaven and The Whirlpool from the Toronto Public Library; all the while eagerly anticipating the release of her next novel, The Underpainter. Of all the summer reading required over the years that first reading of Away had the greatest impact. I suspect I chose it on the basis of the cover art and never looked back.

Prior to his becoming Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario I had never heard of James Bartleman. My knowledge of him remained limited, although I applauded the Lieutenant-Governor’s Book Program that he established. One would think this program would have tipped me off to his literary leanings, but alas it did not. His memoirs flew under my radar and it wasn’t until the publication of As Long As the Rivers Flow that James Bartleman, the Lieutenant-Governor, became James Bartleman the author for me. There was a period of me questioning myself “I know that name from somewhere, how do I know his name?” Finally, the pieces fell in place and now I am looking forward to hearing him read.

I admit it took the Giller nominations for me to become aware of Johanna Skibsrud. I had recently made the transition from working in Children’s and Youth Services to Adult Services, and so was caught up in learning new routines. When The Sentimentalists was nominated I spent a lot of time working on the proper spelling of Skibsrud. The Sentimentalists is currently on my eReader for my evening reading and I have a hold on This Will Be Difficult to Explain and Other Stories. The title of this work has delighted me from the moment I read the first review and I am thrilled that she will be reading from it on October 16th.

I know all of you will have your own memories of your first encounters with these authors and hope that many of you can make it to the readings on October 16th. Tickets are available at the Waverley Resource Library, The Northern Woman’s Bookstore, and online at The readings will be followed by a Q & A period and book signings. Books will also be available for purchase at the event thanks to the Northern Woman’s Bookstore.

Ruth Hamlin-Douglas