Sunday, 28 April 2013

Sunday April 28, 2013 Oh Sew Easy!

To sew or not to sew is rapidly becoming an important question. After years of neglect, sewing has become the hot new trend among crafters.  Sewing circles are popping up in large urban centers as well as small towns where women, as well as men, get together to practice both their creativity and their skills.  The BBC recently jumped on the trend by premiering the new television series “The Great British Sewing Bee”, a reality show where contestants are challenged to display their stitching prowess and their sewing design skills. Unsurprisingly, the idea was recently purchased by a US network, so expect something similar on your TV soon.

Personally I’m not a crafter, sewing included.  It’s not that I haven’t tried, as the bins of unfinished projects in my storage room will attest, but sadly I simply lack the patience and the persistence to complete a project to its end.  So I was surprised to find myself flipping through the bounty of new sewing project books that are appearing on our library shelves. Whether you want to learn the basics, make an attractive and one of a kind gift or release your inner Coco Chanel, the library offers stacks of books to meet your needs. Here are a few of my favourites, ranging from simple to sublime.

A is for Apron: 25 Fresh and Flirty Designs by Nathalie Mornu. This is a great starter book with ideas for sprucing up a store bought apron to templates for making a charming personal creation. The book is bright, colourful and fully illustrated with easy instructions.  There is even a section on using recycled materials for the eco-friendly.

Carry Me: 30 Boutique Bags to Sew by Yuka Koshizen. Can you ever have too many bags? Probably not. The cleverly constructed bags that are shown here combine the look of Japanese fibre art and simple sewing techniques to create unique and functional works of art. Projects include everything from roomy totes, to laptop bags, to delicate evening wristlets.

Improv Sewing:  101 Fast, Fun, and Fearless Projects by Nicole Blum and Debra Immergut. This book features 101 fun and fast projects, most can be completed in a day and some in only an hour. Using a variety of interesting and unusual materials and aimed at all skill levels, this is a great book for beginners or someone looking to make a quick gift.

Simply Sublime Gifts: High-Style,Low-Sew Projects to Make in a Snap by Jodi Kahn. Looking for a great birthday gift, want to mark an important anniversary, need something really special for the holidays, this may be the book for you. With clear instructions and loads of pictures you’ll have everything you need to produce an item to be treasured. This is also a great book to get teens into crafting as it features fun items they would love to own or to give as gifts.

Sewing in a Straight Line: Quickand Crafty Projects You Can Make by Simply Sewing Straight by Brett Bara. According to the author if you can sew a straight line, you can create anything.  Ranging from home d├ęcor to fashion, the book offers 28 fresh and modern projects that anyone will enjoy.

Dressmaking: The Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Making Your Own Clothes by Alison Smith. Whether it’s creating your dream wardrobe, updating an old top or starting on the road to design, everything you need is here. The book features information, instruction and inspiration to take a sewer to a seamstress and beyond.

Lori Kauzlarick

Friday, 26 April 2013

Sunday April 21, 2013 Books & Reading

April is not only the time to celebrate spring, it is also the time we celebrate books!!  April 23 is Canada Book Day. It is also celebrated around the world as World Book and Copyright Day!
There is much concern about the demise of the book as we know it, given the exponential growth in the e-book and the requisite reader market. I have even heard talk about redefining the word “e-book” given that the reading experience with an e-book is evolving to be so different from the experience reading a “regular” book. The difference is not just in the way it looks and feels, but also the whole content. With wifi turned on, your reader links you to the world and thus the “book” is no longer a contained entity; dictionaries are just a click away, footnotes are live links to related research, static photos become embedded videoclips  There’s no denying it, reading is evolving and with it the book. This is not to say that the one will disappear with the growth of the other; it is not an “either/or” rather an “in addition to”. There will be times and places where paper is the preferred option, and vice versa.
At TBPL, books and reading - in whatever format - are celebrated every day. For Canada Book Day, we are celebrating with an author reading – April 23, 7 pm at the Waverley Library. Join Thunder Bay writer, Charlie Wilkins as he reads from his new work "Little Ship of Fools": the dramatic and hilarious story of sores and survival on a human-powered journey across the ocean. When he joined the expedition, Wilkins had never swung an oar in earnest. In a tale both harrowing and hilarious, Wilkins takes the reader along for seven weeks of rationed food, festering sores, breathtaking sunrises, sleep deprivation, and mile-high waves alongside a devoted crew of misadventurers.

For your reading pleasure, here are some Fiction titles that have books or libraries/librarians at the centre of the story – can’t think of a better way to celebrate books than by reading one about those who love them!
People of the Book, by Geraldine Brooks. “Inspired by a true story, People of the Book is a novel of sweeping historical grandeur by acclaimed Pulitzer Prize-winning author. This ambitious, electrifying work traces the harrowing journey of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, a beautifully illuminated Hebrew manuscript created in fifteenth-century Spain. When it falls to Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert, to conserve this priceless work, the series of tiny artifacts she discovers in its ancient binding-an insect wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hair-only begin to unlock its deep mysteries and unexpectedly plunges Hanna into the intrigues of fine art forgers and ultra-nationalist fanatics.
The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett. “Obliged to borrow a book when her corgis stray into a mobile library, the Queen discovers a passion for reading, setting the palace upon its head and causing the royal head of Great Britain to question her role in the monarchy.”

If you are looking for a lighter read and something that is in e-book format, then try The Scrappy Librarian Mysteries by Marion Hill.  Hill's humorous series features Wyndham, Oklahoma, public librarian and amateur sleuth, Juanita Wills.
Celebrate the book this month in whatever format you chose to read it in. Happy reading!

Barbara Philp

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Sunday April 14, 2013 Screenwriting

Have you ever wanted to write a screenplay but didn’t know where to start? Written a first draft but need help revising? Or maybe your screenplay is all ready to go but now you don’t know where to send it? Then maybe you need to take a trip to the library; we have all kinds of resources to help you with your scriptwriting needs.

If you’re completely new to screenwriting and trying to develop your ideas, a great place to start is Kate Wright’s Screenwriting is Storytelling: Creating an A-List Screenplay That Sells. Along with giving the basics of screenwriting structure, Screenwriting is Storytelling discusses all of the important elements of a good script, including building a strong plot, making characters, working with your theme and the importance of conflict. While any writer can benefit from the advice in this book, beginners in particular will find Screenwriting is Storytelling an excellent resource.

Once your screenplay is finished, you can’t just send it off to your favourite actor or director. If I’ve just dashed your plan, it’s time to make a new one. Luckily the advice of Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon is here to help in Writing Movies for Fun andProfit. This humorous book does have some excellent advice on the business side of Hollywood, however not everyone will find it funny.

What if you’re more interested in writing for TV instead? In that case, the library has a few choices for you. First is Writing the TV Drama Series: How to Succeed as a Professional Writer inTV by Pamela Douglas. Its focus is on drama writing, but many of the principles work for other genres as well. Douglas interviews some of the big names in television writing, providing valuable advice from people already working in the field. Another option is Screenwriting:The Art, Craft and Business of Film and Television Writing by Richard Walter. Written by a professor who teaches screenwriting at UCLA and has written several screenplays such as American Graffiti, this book is packed full of excellent advice for aspiring screenwriters and experts alike, although I do recommend starting with something more basic than this one.

Screenwriting from the Heart: the Techniqueof the Character-Driven Screenplay by James Ryan is a book that goes beyond the formula that many aspiring screenwriters (and oftentimes Hollywood itself) rely on. As the title suggests, Ryan focuses on the characters of your story, making the story grow organically out of their back-story. As Ryan is both a screenwriter and a teacher, he also gives a step-by-step breakdown of the writing process, making this book an excellent resource for beginners and experts alike.

 Another interesting book is Screenwritingon the Internet: Researching, Writing and Selling Your Script on the Web by Christopher Wehner. While his chapters on agents and production companies are out of date, Wehner’s book provides some excellent resources for researching online. His topics include popular subjects, like conspiracy theories and serial killers, and all kinds of help for you the screenwriter no matter what stage your script is at. Wehner is also the developer of the Screenwriter’s Utopia website ( which has some excellent articles on the craft as well.

The library also has several screenwriting audiobooks available online through our ebook collection on EBSCOhost. These include Writing a Screenplay by John Costello, Screenwriting for Hollywood by Michael Hauge and Writing the Great American Screenplay by Richard Walter and William Froug.

There’s no time like the present to start a screenplay. With a little help from the library, you’ll have your script finished in no time. And when you’re rich and famous, don’t forget the helpful staff here at TBPL!

Shauna Kosoris

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Sunday April 7, 2013 Youth Without Youth

With the emergence of popular titles such as the “Twilight saga” and “the Hunger Games” series, the young adult audience is an ever growing demographic for writers to address. What is it about this genre that teenagers find so enjoyable?

In my opinion, it is the dilemma that the young hero in the novel faces and their struggle to overcome the odds. The idea of a young person taking on adult responsibilities is what makes this type of literature endlessly appealing. In many classic young adult novels, the hero is pitted against a harsh reality that the young character must come to terms with while discovering something about themselves.

Facing challenging situations that allows the character to develop helps the reader to connect and sympathize with their struggle. Harper Lee’s beloved To Kill a Mockingbird does such thing. Told from the point of view of Scout Finch, daughter of attorney Atticus, she acts as the reader’s witness to racism and prejudice in the American Deep South. With uncanny intelligence, Scout helps save an innocent man from a bad reputation, while suffering her loss of innocence. With the universal theme of acceptance of one’s neighbour, Scout’s actions represent tolerance amid a society govern by the hatred of adults.

In a radically different notion, the anti-hero Duddy Kravitz in The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, despite the circumstances remains emotionally stunted through his journey from adolescence to adulthood. Through his intention of acquiring land and pleasing his family, Kravitz manipulates others all in the name of success. While most readers will be put of by these efforts, it is his struggle to become the person he wants to be that the reader identifies with.

Much like Kravitz, the reader’s initial impression of Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye may be a negative one based on his pompous, spoiled behaviour. But as the reader takes the journey from his dorm in Pennsylvania to the streets of New York, we realize that his over the top bravado masks an inner turmoil. Struggling with his identity and overall place in the world, the emotional crisis he faces is one many young adults can relate to and will find his journey to be a familiar one.

Similarly, The Perks of Being a Wallflower examines one teen’s struggle over fitting in amongst his high school peers. Having been compared to a modern day Catcher in the Rye, this epistolary novel centers on introverted Charlie as he recounts his junior year in high school. As the young Charlie explores the excitement and sometime danger of being a teen, the novel celebrates our differences and encourages the audience to embrace their true selves.

In the sense of being true to oneself, Pi Patel, the hero in Life of Pi learns to accept his spiritual and emotional identity, but it takes the physicality and brutality of his Pacific ocean journey for Pi to realize his full capacity. His journey allows him to explore the meaning of faith and acts as a test of strength and weakness amid Pi’s lingering doubt. By the end of his eventful journey across the ocean, Pi’s characterization matures from that of a young, vulnerable boy to a confident and wise adult.

Such formidable novels with complex characters are what attract the young reader to these stories. Reading about young people’s struggle and perseverance enlightens us as we reflect on our own comings of age. So come and visit your neighbourhood Thunder Bay Public Library branch and check out one of these timeless teen classics.

Petar Vidjen