Enough Clowning Around

I was inspired to write a blog about the recent clown sightings. That is, until the weird clowns started popping up in Winnipeg. What started off as a prank in the U.S. has sadly escalated into a continent-wide-frenzy.

Even Stephen King himself, creator of one of the scariest clowns ever, has taken to Twitter, telling people it’s ‘time to cool the clown hysteria’.

I agree. Why are we so afraid of clowns? Is it the makeup that hides their emotions? Is it the unnaturally bright orange hair? Is it because a slew of famous fictional clowns  have been scaring people for years?

Let me be clear: Dressing up as a clown to scare people is NOT COOL, especially if weapons are involved. Instead of dressing up as a scary copycat clown this Halloween, why not introduce yourself to some of the scariest clowns around, at the library? We house some of the creepiest clown characters in history and they’re much more frightening than any costume someone might be cooking up in their basement.

It by Stephen King

As I mentioned before, likely the most famous clown-horror-story around is Stephen King’s It. The story follows seven children who are terrorized by the creature.  Usually appearing in the form of the clown Pennywise (in order to attract young kids), “It” exploits the fears and phobias of its victims in order to disguise itself while hunting its prey. You might want to leave the lights on after reading this one…

Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore & Brian Bolland

The Joker is one of the most memorable villains not only in the Batman series, but possibly of all time. In his comic book appearances, he is shown as a psychotic criminal mastermind with a twisted, sadistic sense of humor. Although he does not possess any superpowers, he uses his expertise in chemical engineering to develop weapons like razor-tipped playing cards, or acid-spraying lapel flowers and play deadly pranks on his enemies. Come check out our graphic novel section and read one that features him, such as The Killing Joke.


Nothing says creepy like a ghost talking to a little girl through a TV set. At first playful and friendly, Carol Anne’s ghost friends become unexpectedly menacing, and an exorcist must be called in once she goes missing. Starring Craig T. Nelson and written by Steven Spielberg, Poltergeist is a 1980s horror classic. And who can forget that clown scene?

Clown Girl by Monica Drake

‘Sniffles the Clown’ isn’t a scary clown, but she’s certainly an endearing one. She struggles to live out her dreams in Baloneytown, surrounded by petty crime, balloon animals and rubber chickens. In an effort to support herself and her lazy boyfriend, she finds herself turning into a ‘corporate clown’, trapped in a cycle of meaningless, high-paid gigs. Monica Drake manages to raise questions of gender, class and prejudice while incorporating the bizarre, humorous and gritty.

For more scary fiction, check out our “On a Dark and Stormy Night” display at Millennium!


Helping Kids Affected by Incarceration

Children whose lives have been impacted by crime within their family may not know how to deal with the stress of the situation — and that’s why Winnipeg Public Library, in partnership with Canadian Families and Corrections Network, is hosting ‘Strengthening Families Affected by Incarceration Day’ at Millennium Library on October 22 from 2-4 p.m.

Meet Sesame Street friends and support families in our community who are affected by incarceration.  Play in Big Bird’s reading corner, read a book with Elmo, share a cookie with Cookie Monster, watch Sesame Street’s Little Children Big Challenges and learn about community resources.

There will also be a special presentation of Canadian Families and Corrections Network and Sesame Street resources to the Winnipeg Public Library and the community.

The event is free of charge, and open to all families.

Reading together as a family can also provide the opportunity to explore and discuss hardships that may arise for children.  Check out these titles as one way to support children who are dealing with these issues:

amberAmber Was brave, Essie Was Smart: The Story of Amber and Essie Told Here in Poems and Pictures by Vera B. Williams
Times are hard for Essie and Amber – their mother works long hours, leaving them with sitters or cousins or often on their own, and their father is in jail.  While the girls share their heartache, they also share their special talents-Essie teaches Amber to write her name in script, and Amber convinces the grocer to trust them with milk until payday. The good times are good, but the bad times are really hard. The shadow of their father’s mistake is always there.

rubyRuby on the Outside by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Eleven-year-old Ruby Danes has a real best friend for the first time ever, but agonizes over whether or not to tell her a secret she has never shared with anyone–that her mother has been in prison since Ruby was five–and over whether to express her anger to her mother.

secretSecret Saturdays by Torrey Maldonado
Sean is Justin’s best friend – or at least Justin thought he was. But lately Sean has been acting differently. He’s been telling lies, getting into trouble at school, hanging out with a tougher crowd, even getting into fights. When Justin finally discovers that Sean’s been secretly going to visit his father in prison, and struggling with the stress of that, Justin wants to do something to help before his friend spirals further out of control.

everyoneEveryone Makes Mistakes: Living With My Daddy In Jail by Madison Strempek
10-year-old author Madison Strempek candidly depicts her life experience of living with a father in jail. Through her eyes, you will feel the heartbreak of that life-changing news, discover how she survives with her secret, and ultimately finds resolution and strength in the understanding that everyone makes mistakes.

nightThe Night Dad Went to Jail: What to Expect When Someone You Love Goes to Jail by Melissa Higgins
When someone you love goes to jail, you might feel lost, scared, and even mad. What do you do? No matter who your loved one is, this story can help you through the tough times.

— Lindsay





The Importance of Harry Potter

Earlier this year I found myself watching Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone for the first time since its cinematic debut back in 2001. It was a fun, light hearted adventure that featured Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger as the main protagonists. Soon afterwards my fiancé and I sat down to watch The Chamber of Secrets and it was at that moment that I decided I wanted to read the books.

Harry Potter, an orphan, is raised by his emotionally abusive relatives until he discovers that he’s a wizard. This is a startling revelation, but then he also learns that he’s famous – in fact, he’s the most famous wizard in the world because he survived an attack by Lord Voldemort, a dark wizard who’s responsible for killing his parents. Interesting? Absolutely! Of course, nineteen years after the first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published, Harry’s origin story is well known. Everyone knows it. Just like everyone knows that Frodo Baggins was destined to be the ring keeper and travel to Mount Doom in order to destroy the ring of power. These characters and their exploits are part of pop culture and will therefore continue to be referenced for years to come.

So why does Harry Potter still matter?

We all know that the series follows the adventures of Harry and his best friends Ron and Hermione, as they learn the art of wizardry and the world that surrounds them. Throughout the series we see the progression of these characters as they mature from children into young adults. As their relationships blossom into something more, we see the difficulties that arise when friendships changes into romantic relationships. J.K. Rowling excels at describing these painful experiences. I find that when discussing the series it’s seldom mentioned but never forgotten. When Harry and Cho kiss for the first time? It was awkward, to say the least. But I’m convinced that this awkward kiss makes it relatable to many of us.

Hermione, as portrayed by Emma Watson.

Hermione, as portrayed by Emma Watson.

Hermione Granger is a powerful protagonist who deserves to be mentioned. When Harry and Ron often struggle to complete their homework or work out their own problems, it’s often Hermione that has the solution. Although she’s mocked, sometimes by her own friends, Hermione’s dedication to her studies gives her an advantage over the rest of her classmates. Despite Professor Snape’s dislike of her, she always raises her hand, waiting patiently (mostly), to answer his questions.

When Harry and Ron struggle to discover who’s attacking their fellow classmates (in Chamber of Secrets), it’s Hermione who figures it out. After her encounter with the monstrous creature results in her being petrified, it’s up to the boys to connect the dots and save the day. While Hermione often takes the high road she is not a pushover, which we learn in Prisoner of Azkaban. After mocking his Gryffindor rivals, Draco Malfoy learns that he has pushed his luck too far, when Hermione punches him in the nose.

The importance of Harry Potter isn’t the main character, it’s the journey he undertakes with his friends, notably Hermione. Throughout the series we see the characters mature as they embark upon adventures and battle dangerous adversaries. Although we encounter many characters, it’s my opinion that Hermione is the most important. With the upcoming release of the new movie, it’s a great time to re-read the whole series.


I Love the Smell of Rich Mahogany in the Morning! or Why eBooks are Okay Too.

Books! Good old fashioned physical books! Nothing beats them and it hurts to be beat by them. If you’re like me and I know a lot of you are, then you love books too. Books are made of trees. Wood is made of trees. Mahogany is a type of wood. Therefore, books, or at least the best books, smell of rich mahogany. Some people may try to tell you that you can’t smell what type of wood a book is made of. Those people are not discerning readers.

Now, you may have heard of these so-called ‘eBooks.’ These eBooks are not made of wood. They are made of wires. I know what you’re thinking; I was the same way—skeptical. After all, when you’re sitting next to the fireplace, in your leather arm chair, a snifter of cognac in one hand and a bubble pipe in your mouth, and you look down in your lap and see A PILE OF WIRES, you’ll know something is missing. The smell of rich mahogany.


carrieBut say you want to read a good horror novel. I recommend Carrie by Stephen King, mostly because it rhymes with scary, which it is. You don’t want to read this book next to a fireplace. You want to read this book in a house with creaky floors and tree branches tap-tap-tapping at the window. You’ll also want to be in bed so that when things are at their absolute most terrifying you can pull the blankets over your head. Now think about it, with the blankets over your head and a regular old physical book you’re missing something. Light! And without light you’re approaching heart attack levels of scary, compounded by the fact that you can’t read in the dark. It turns out most eBooks have a nifty feature called a backlight which provides just enough light to read under the covers but not enough to ruin the ambiance.


count-of-monte-cristoeBooks, I’ve discovered, are also fantastic if you lift weights. Now leg days will never be an issue. But if you’re like me, and I feel a lot of you are, on those days when you’ve finished a set of arm curls with 500lb.* dumbbells picking up a book can be jello-arm inducing. Especially when you’re reading a tome such as The Count of Monte Cristo which is over 1000 pages of dead wood. Now with an eBook you can bend the laws of physics and that 1000 page tome is going to weigh about as much as a paperback.



As I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, I’m smart. Smart enough to know that it’s spelled ‘smrt’ but when you write it out the ‘a’ is silent. That being said, I’m a humble man. So, when it’s time for my weekly read of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest I use a dictionary because that guy is mad smart and I need it. Every. Single. Page. Before eBooks it used to be a physical dictionary and that was kinda bad because the dictionary is like 1000 pages and Infinite Jest is like 1000 pages because it uses pretty much every word in the dictionary—so yeah, arm days. So I know what you’re thinking, bending the laws of physics. And yes, there’s that. But they’ve also managed a feat of alchemy and put a dictionary into every single eBook so that all you have to do is tap the word and BOOM the definition comes up on the screen!


masteredLastly, and this one is important because it involves safety, sometimes I like my books hot. This is a problem because as we’ve discussed books are made of wood. And I’m smrt so hot and wood make fire. So when I’m reading Maya Banks’ Mastered on the bus and it bursts into flames on my lap I can get some weird looks. eBooks don’t catch on fire so much so people on the bus just can’t tell how hot my book is getting.


So, yeah, I don’t often stray from that rustic mahogany smell (pine is nice too!) but when I do, I always choose eBooks. Let me know why you choose eBooks in the comments below.

~ Alan

*Editor’s note: We had a lengthy discussion about whether or not there was one too many zeros in this number. The discussion ended with the author effortlessly carrying a set of said dumbbells into my office. I’m currently in the process of fixing the hole in my floor.

October is Library Month!

This month is Library month! Along with all the usual books and materials that you’ve come to love we’re also in the middle of a great programming cycle. Here are some programs  that we’re featuring this month.


Anishinaabe Creation Story
Branch/Location: Millennium Library
Date: Saturday, October 8, 2016
Time: 2:00PM – 3:30PM
Room: Buchwald Room
Learn teachings from the Anishinaabe creation story. Elders Daabaasanaqwat (Lowcloud) Peter Atkinson of the Turtle Clan and  Harry Bone share their insights and knowledge. Drop-ins welcome!

 Writers on the Road
Location: Parlour Coffee, 468 Main Street
Date: Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Time: 12:15PM – 1:30PM
Drop by to meet the Writers-in-Residence and make an appointment to have your writing critiqued, or borrow from our travelling Book Bike collection!

Concert: North Star Falling
Branch: Millennium Library
Date: Thursday, October 13, 2016
Time: 12:10PM – 12:50PM
Room: Carol Shields Auditorium
Part of our Thursday Skywalk Concert Series featuring singer-songwriter Jeffery Straker performing songs from his albums including Vagabond and North Star Falling. Drop in, all are welcome!

1919-2019: The Legacy of the Winnipeg General Strike 
Branch/Location: Millennium Library
Date: Monday, October 17, 2016
Time: 7:00PM – 8:00PM
Room: Carol Shields Auditorium
Registration Required: Please Call 204-986-6450
Hear some stories about the legacy of the strike from the perspective of descendants of strikers, and share your own stories. Learn about plans to commemorate the centennial of the Strike in 2019.

Haunted Winnipeg : Ghost Stories from the Heart of the Continent 
Branch/Location: Millennium Library
Date: Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Time: 7:00PM – 8:00PM
Room: Carol Shields Auditorium
Matthew Komus shares some of the City’s best-known ghost stories, as well as some lesser known tales. Hear about the people who may be haunting Winnipeg’s historic sites while learning about the buildings unique and creepy history.

If none of these great programs tickle your fancy this fall, check out our Program Calendar for everything we’ve got going on!


“Seize the Night” at Nuit Blanche


Nuit Blanche owl logo

Calling all night owls!

Nuit Blanche is a free all-night exploration and celebration of contemporary art. In Winnipeg, the event has been held annually since 2010 as part of Culture Days, and attracts thousands of people to St. Boniface, Downtown and the Exchange District.

Nuit Blanche takes place this Saturday, October 1, from dusk to dawn and the Winnipeg Public Library is excited to be taking part! Visit two of our  libraries under the stars for an evening that harkens back to childhood crafts, library visits, and the joys of being read-aloud to.

Millennium Library Park
7-11 pm

Lighten up your Nuit Blanche with story time for adults, a lantern creation station, and a library lounge.

  • Library lounge and creation station open all evening
  • Story time for adults at 8:30 & 10 pm
  • Watch for our roving Book Bike with Writers-in-Residence Christine Fellows and John K. Samson. They’ll be “pedaling” some of their favourite books!

St. Boniface Library
(in the lobby and on Provencher Blvd.)
7-11 pm

Rendez-vous à la Bibliothèque de Saint-Boniface pour une soirée qui vous ramènera à la magie de votre enfance, la création artisanale, les visites à la bibliothèque et la joie d’écouter des histoires.

  • Creation station open all evening
  • Métis stories told in English and French, throughout the evening

Want to know what else is happening during the long night? Pick up a copy of the program at any library, or visit the Nuit Blanche website for an online listing of the dozens of other events and art installations taking place.

Wondering how to get around? The Winnipeg Trolley Company will be available to all art lovers from 6pm to 2am. The familiar big orange trolley and a new additional shuttle will stop at 8 different locations in the three zones (Downtown, Exchange District and St. Boniface).

Not a night owl? Culture Days isn’t just a Saturday night thing; it starts today (Friday, September 30) and goes on through Sunday, October 2. You’ll find something fascinating to check out!


Let’s Do Lunch


“Lunch is for wimps.” Gordon Gecko in the 1987 film Wall Street

According to the blog Sad Desk Lunch over 62 % of American office workers eat their lunch in the same spot they work every day. Social scientists have termed this “desktop dining”.  I admit to sending an email while munching a sandwich. However I vow to up my game by trading my tired brown bag for an Indian tiffin or napkin wrapped Japanese bento box to tote a portable picnic.

If you share my lunch box blues, here are some cook books that will spark your imagination to prepare lunches to help you power through your work or school day:

portablefeast    The Portable Feast provides brilliant solutions whether you’re planning a picnic in the park or eating “al desko”. Here are secrets to packing salads so they stay crisp by layering in a jar to be tossed together later. Great containers tailored for transporting the make and take meal are also highlighted from the latest in collapsible boxes to Korean covered stainless steel rice bowls

whatareyoudoingforlunch   What Are You Doing For Lunch? outlines the benefits of brown bagging from improving your health to enjoying convenience and flexibility. Includes a sample menu of 20 days of lunches.



lunchtogo    Cooking Light Lunch to Go Whether you are a busy parent, student or worker bee stop spending money in the cafeteria or fast food outlet and start preparing your own healthy economical and tasty lunches. Recipes for 80 simple, satisfying and time saving dishes are included.



bestlunchboxeverBest Lunch Box Ever Filling a lunch box is booby trapped with challenges like keeping some foods hot and others cold, preventing sandwiches from going mushy and fruit from bruising and taking into account fussy kids and food allergies. This information from a dietitian will help you tackle packing lunches every day.


So take your lunch break up a notch. Get away from your desk, use a cloth napkin and real china, read a book or listen to music and congratulate yourself on all the money you’re saving. If you estimate $5 multiplied by 20 lunches per month you will save $1200 per year. Now where you will spend all that lunch money?