Sunday, 30 September 2012

Sunday September 30, 2012 Fairy Tales for Adults

Fairy Tales have been extremely popular lately. From the television series like Once Upon a Time and Grimm, movies like Snow White and the Huntsman, and the many teen books like Wildwood Dancing by Julie Marillier and Fairest by Gail Carson Levine, fairy tales are being reimagined time and time again. But what if you are an adult reader who wants to join in? While many of the novels written for teens are quite entertaining, the library has some titles that are written with an adult audience in mind.

 A great place to start is the Tor Fairy Tale series. These books are all edited by the same woman, Terri Windling. The Fairy Tale Series was conceived of by Windling and artist Thomas Cantry; they wanted their favourite writers to create new stories based off of the old tales. Modern audiences know the Victorian versions of the tales, which have been simplified and deemed suitable for children. Windling wanted to give fairy tales back to adults, and that’s what she did with this series. Each book is written by a different author so you are sure to find something you’ll like. The library has The Sun, the Moon and the Stars by Steven Brust, Tam Lin by Pamela Dean, and White as Snow by Tanith Lee. We also have Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia Wrede available through Overdrive.

If you don’t have time to read a whole novel, another option is the Snow White, Blood Red anthologies edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. These anthologies are similar to the Tor Fairy Tale Series in that they rework familiar fairy tales into darker (and sexier!) stories suitable for an adult audience.

If you’re looking for a lighter story, a good option is Mercedes Lackey’s Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms. In this series she retells fairy tales in exciting ways, often recombining several stories into one new tale. Lackey’s heroines are not the passive, helpless females that modern audiences know. Gone are the princesses waiting to be rescued; here are damsels who help save themselves. These books take place in the same world (the Five Hundred Kingdoms) but are only loosely tied together; characters from one book may make an appearance in later books but you don’t need to know what happened previously to enjoy whichever story in the series appeals to you. From Cinderella, the Snow Queen, Sleeping Beauty and even the Volsunga Saga, the Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms are a fun romp through traditional tales from a variety of cultures.

For something completely different, you might want to try giving Neil Gaiman’s Stardust a read. Instead of being an old tale reimagined for a modern audience, Stardust is a new tale written in the delightful style of one from the 1800’s. This is the enchanting story of Tristan Thorn who goes into the world of fairy looking for a falling star after vowing to retrieve it to impress his love, Victoria. Stardust was originally released as a four-issue comic book series; if you’d like to read that, the library has the graphic novel. Stardust was also adapted as a movie a few years ago, so if you would prefer to watch it rather than read it you have that option as well. But I must warn you, while the movie is still enjoyable, its story is somewhat different from the prose.

So if you’re wanting to escape into a fairy tale but want something different from the children’s versions we are used to, come and check out some of the adult fairy tales here at the library.

Shauna Kosoris

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Sunday September 23, 2012 Hockey Books

My name is Joanna and I’m a hockey mom.  Six years ago I did not know what “off side” meant, thought “icing” was only for cakes, and that “PeeWee” was something you did in the bathroom.  Now thanks to a great deal of learning on the job and a few good books, I know the ropes.

If you don’t know any kids involved in hockey you might think this time of year is all about back to school.  Well it’s also a very exciting time for hockey players!  Kids are finding out what team they’ll be on for the next seven months, and parents are finding out who they’ll be sitting with in the stands.  If you’re a novice or professional hockey mom, grandma, aunt or supporter of any kind, your Library can help you learn more about the game our kids love.  We have all sorts of books about hockey:  handbooks for coaches, hockey history, biographies of great players as well as fiction books for all ages.  Here are a few of my favourites.

The hockey sweater by Roch Carrier
This Canadian classic tells the tragic story of a young boy in Quebec who suffers the humiliation of having to wear a Toronto Maple Leafs hockey sweater. This quote from the story is on the back of our five dollar bills:  “The winters of my childhood were long, long seasons. We lived in three places - the school, the church and the skating rink - but our real life was on the skating rink.” Enchanting for both children and adults.

My day with the cup by Sidney Crosby
Hockey moms will appreciate the photos of Mrs. Crosby’s puck-marked dryer in this book! It’s filled with great pictures of Sid and the Cup on his sea doo (both wearing life jackets), at his elementary school and Sid washing the Cup with his parents’ garden hose.

The hockey dad chronicles:  An indentured parent’s season on the rink by Ed Wenck
Ed Wenck is a real life hockey dad who took notes throughout one season of his ten-year old son’s hockey career.  Cleverly written, Wenck sheds insight onto why we sign our kids up for a sport that involves “strapping knives on a kid’s feet, hurling a hard rubber disc at him, and telling him to smack it with a club.” One of my hockey mom friends has been known to take notes at games – I wonder if she is working on a book like this?

Kids’ hockey:  The parents’ guide by Gary Abraham
This is a great book for new hockey parents.  It clearly explains the rules of the game, provides a glimpse inside hockey organizations, tips on equipment, hockey health and safety and good hockey parenting. It also has illustrated explanations of common penalties – so you can tell the other parents what the ref means when he’s waving his arms around!

King Leary by Paul Quarrington
I have recommended this wonderful fiction book to many of my hockey friends. You may remember it as the 2008 Canada Reads winner. MacLean’s magazine noted it is “a dazzling display of fictional footwork....the author has not written just another hockey novel; he has turned hockey into a metaphor for magic.” I think that says it all. Quarrington artfully weaves the story of kid who grows from a delinquent sent to reform school into a hockey super star. You may find yourself trying to prefect the "St. Louis Whirlygig" on this ice this winter after reading this book.

Don’t forget your noisy mitts, warm blanket and special coffee to make this hockey season the best yet by enriching your experience with one of these books. See you around the rinks!

Joanna Aegard

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Sunday September 16th, 2012 Adult Authors Write for Teens

Interest in young adult (YA) books is booming, and adult authors (and publishers!) have taken note. More adult writers are publishing titles for teen readers all the time, but their motives are often a little suspect. How much is the new series simply a money-maker cynically produced for a growing market versus a passion project written by someone who respects the particular interests and needs of the young adult reading audience? Some best-selling YA authors will readily admit that they are writing in this field simply because their editors “asked them to.” Money and fame are also often motivators as there isn’t a lot of prestige in the YA field. Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games is a best-seller and hugely influential on current publishing trends. But for many reviewers, critics, and readers, it is nonetheless not ‘real’ literature. Furthermore, some authors currently writing in the field have spoken disparagingly about what teen readers are looking for in a book, saying that they are more interested in story than well-crafted writing. This may sometimes be true, but I imagine it’s also true for many adult readers!

Perhaps optimistically, I like to imagine that these authors are using the crop of potential new readers as a chance to try something completely different in their writing that might disappoint or surprise usual fans, or as a way to hook new readers who may then move onto their other work. I’d love to hear comments from any fans of these authors. Will you be checking out any of these YA offerings?

Jasper Fforde’s foray is set in a typically off-kilter universe. Jennifer Strange lives in a world where magic has become increasingly scarce. It’s cheaper to use drain cleaner than a spell, and her employment agency for magicians is running out of business. However, something is coming: Big Magic. If you miss Thursday Next, Jennifer Strange in The Last Dragonslayer might be a good substitute.
If you’re more into action than fantasy, try Harlan Coben’s Shelter. Coben introduced teen nephew Mickey into his last adult novel about his hero Myron Bolitar. If you are a fan of Myron, you’ll likely be a fan of Mickey as Coben is writing him as a teen version with the same intelligence and quick wit. Conspiracies, mysteries, and disappearances dominate this fast-paced novel. 

Philippa Gregory, well-known for her historical and psychological fiction, moves into the teen market with the series Order of Darkness. Like her other books, Changeling (book one in the series) is a drama and grounded with some historical fact, but it also includes mystical elements like werewolves, witches, and alchemists. A map of medieval Europe and QR code for links to author notes about the setting and history are also included.

Kathy Reichs’ Temperance Brennan has her own TV show; so why shouldn’t Tempe’s niece Tory Brennan have her own series? Keeping her usual smart action but adding science fiction to the mix, Reichs’ Virals series feature a group of scientifically curious teens who contract a “canine parvovirus” that gives them heightened senses and reflexes that they use to solve a cold-case murder.

Jodi Picoult’s adult books tackling controversial topics have always had crossover appeal with teens, but this year she wrote her first young adult novel with her daughter Samantha van Leer. Between the Lines is a romantic fantasy about a bookworm who discovers that her favourite storybook character is actually a real person who wants out of his book. The narrative perspective moves between fifteen-year-old Delilah and sixteen-year-old Prince Oliver as they try to find a world where they can be together.

Laura Prinselaar

Works Cited:

Crouch, Katie and Grady Hendrix. Writing young Adult Fiction: It’s more fun than going to the prom.
Melson, Brittany. When Adult Authors Take a Walk on the YA Side.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Sunday September 9th, 2012 Little Free Libraries

Like finding a needle in a haystack; this was my reaction in discovering Manitoba’s smallest public library at 6 cubic feet, a cold hit when searching for a parking spot on a residential side street off Winnipeg’s busy Portage Avenue earlier this summer. Oddly it first appeared like a large decorative birdhouse was mounted on a post beside the sidewalk on someone’s lawn, but on closer inspection this structure was actually that of a model schoolhouse complete with functioning bell on top and posting a sign, ‘Little Free Library – Take a book, Return a book…Branch #1849’. Surprised to find this display and its glass front door revealing fully stocked books inside, my curiosity led me to homeowner Charlene Roziere who happily explains it as a free drop off and pick up point for books.  She referred me to the website where this network of Little Free Libraries (LFL’s) is based and run by private citizens. 

Although Roziere’s branch is unique in Manitoba, Little Free Libraries are actually part of a rapidly spreading grass roots movement of over 2500 libraries and counting that started in Wisconsin in 2009 and is now making inroads on Canada’s landscape. The LFL concept operates similar to that of public libraries but different in operating on an honour system. LFL’s appear in the form of schoolhouses, outhouses, phone booths, and newspaper stands, and are just as varied in locale from farm fields to high rise apartment buildings; there is even a branch at a dock for cottagers located on Kennisis Lake, north of Haliburton, ON.  Roziere’s own Winnipeg library in the few weeks it had been open has seen substantial turnover of material already proving its success.  Her library offers 24/7 service (no door lock), features a night light for insomniac page turners, and contains a charming guest book for those just wanting to say hi. 

The success of LFL’s is due in part to reductions or a lack of organized library service in many areas. Though LFL’s also appear in communities where there is a healthy library system and functions well as a tool to introduce literacy and form bonds between neighbours that may have lived as strangers otherwise.   

My quick scan of the LFL’s contents of about 70 titles shows a collection of fiction, non-fiction and children’s materials, proportionally not unlike the Thunder Bay Public Library’s own collection. If you happen in future to come across a LFL and enjoy any titles in the collection, keep in mind that you can continue reading in your chosen genre or author with a visit to TBPL. Because Little Free Libraries are in fact, well, small and limited in the variety they can offer. If you liked reading a John Grisham novel you found, you can follow up at TBPL with one of his other 144 titles. If you liked Janet Evanovich or Stephen King, we have 176 and 216 titles respectively.  In the non-fiction area, if you want to follow up on gardening, we have over 200 titles, a cookbook, more than 500, and if you want something suitable for children and youth, we have over 30,000 for you to choose from!
If this article piques your interest in setting up your own Little Free Library, a visit to the Friends of the Thunder Bay Public Library Bookstore is a great place to start your collection with affordable books to fill your shelves.  You can also take advantage of their popular buck-a-bag sales to fill your library faster.  If you need help building your own little library, browse our large selection of building guides. Find inspiration in books such as Shelves and Cabinets, The Complete Guide to Sheds, and Designer Birdhouses.

Arlene Danyleyko

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Sunday September 2, 2012 Preserving Nature's Bounty

In the past few weeks the weather has turned slightly cooler and I especially notice it in the morning. This (early) autumnal weather makes me all the more determined to enjoy the rest of summer, in particular the abundance of fresh produce available at this time of year. However, one can only eat so many fruits and veggies on a daily basis and that’s where canning comes in to play. My grandmother spends much of her summer making raspberry jam, black and red currant jellies, pickled beets, and peach conserve among others. As a child I was lucky enough to assist and learn, but even without Grandma’s advice you too can preserve summer’s bounty.

There has been a renaissance in many of the so-called domestic arts, including canning and food preservation. There are many theories as to why this has happened, but I prefer to focus on the joy of having so many new and updated resources available to me. You will find blogs and websites devoted to these topics, YouTube videos to help with techniques, and much more online. At Your Library you will find an extensive collection of books to guide you in the art of preserves and canning. The following are only a small selection of all that we have available to assist you in your adventures in canning.

Put ‘em Up! by Sherri Brooks Vinton
With simple step-by-step instructions and 175 delicious recipes, Put 'em Up will have even the most timid beginners filling their pantries and freezers in no time! You'll find complete how-to information for every kind of preserving: refrigerating, freezing, air- and oven-drying, cold- and hot-pack canning, and pickling.

The complete preserving book by the Canadian Living Test Kitchen
Preserving is in vogue again, thanks to the recent gardening renaissance and a worldwide fascination with local, organic and heritage foods. To celebrate this renewal, Canadian Living has combed through more than 35 years of its classic canning recipes to find the best jams, pickles and preserves to share in The Complete Canadian Living Preserving Book. Whether you're a novice or an expert at the art of preserving, this book has something to offer you.

Can it! Edited by Jan Miller

A complete, step-by-step guide to fresh flavors for home canning and preserving. Home canning and preserving is growing in popularity every day. It′s easy and a great way to get the most from your backyard garden or farmer′s market finds so that you can enjoy seasonal bounty all year long. This follow-up to Better Homes and Gardens You Can Can , gives you fresh, new flavor ideas and combinations to spice up your canning and preserving.

The preservation kitchen: the craft of making and cooking with pickles, preserves and aigre-doux Paul Virant with Kate Leahy

The first canning manual and cookbook authored by a Michelin-starred chef and restaurant owner, this collection showcases Virant's canning techniques, preserving recipes, and seasonal menus inspired by the award-winning fare at his restaurant, Vie.

Can it, bottle it, smoke it: and other kitchen projects by Karen Solomon

Bottle your own soda? Press your own tofu? Smoke your own cheese? Boil your own bagels? Ferment your own miso? Can your own tomatoes? Roast your own coffee? Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It walks you through a slew of satisfying culinary projects to stock your larder and shower your friends with artisan foods and drinks, kitchen staples, and utterly addictive snacks.

I hope you find the recipes in these books just as inspiring as I have. These books (and others) contain an amazing range of tantalizing preserves for the enthusiast to the expert. Happy canning!

Ruth Hamlin-Douglas