Celebrate Canada 150 with Books

As a preface, I’d like to gratefully acknowledge that Winnipeg lies within Treaty No. 1 Territory, the traditional lands of the Anishinabe (Ojibway), Ininew (Cree), Oji-Cree, Dene and Dakota peoples, and is the Birthplace of the Métis Nation and the Heart of the Métis Nation Homeland.

 

readtrip

 

 

You know what word I’m not hearing enough right now?

ses

 

How is this word not constantly repeated in any mention of Canada 150??? It’s pretty much the best word ever.

My love of big weird words aside, it is a pretty big deal for anything to reach it’s 150th anniversary. Though I do want to take the time to note that this anniversary evokes mixed emotions for many of us, I also believe that this country we’re a part of stands for a lot of noble things. At the same time, I know we can and should strive to do better in the future.

One of the ways in which we can try to understand where we came from and where we’re going is through — you guessed it — books! So to celebrate this amazing and diverse and huge and wonderful country of ours, WPL is encouraging you to embark on a journey to explore Canada through a cross-country Read Trip.

This may be the easiest and laziest road trip you’ll ever take. Just find a Canadian book (we make it simple as we’ve always put a maple leaf on the spine). For every Canadian book you read, enter a ballot in our August 18 prize draw for a bag of wicked Canadian lit.

 

And because we love making lists, a bunch of us have put one together that contains top suggestions for books set in each territory and province. Please peruse, pick, and/or print as desired!

 

rt list

 

Read on, Canada! And happy sesquicentennial.

— Erica

Summer Reads

Every year my uncle would take his kids (my cousins) on a family camping trip. He had a demanding job and these two weeks off were extra special to him. He would kick back, relax, spend some time with his family, and read. My  cousin remembers that every summer, for as long as she can remember, for all of her childhood, her Dad would be working on the SAME BOOK. Every year he would bring along his copy of Herman Wouk’s The Winds of War, and every summer he would read maybe 10 pages of it, and then it would go back on his shelf for the long cold winter. The next year, he would have forgotten what he read, so he’d start again and only get the first 10 pages read. This cycle repeated for 20 years.

I guess the moral of this story is: DON’T BE MY UNCLE. I encourage you to look over this list of popular books that are either coming out this summer or have recently been published, and pick something that interests you. Who knows? You might even get to page 11.

Giant of the Senate by Al Franken

Al Franken, who was best known as a comedian with regular appearances on Saturday Night Live, won a United States Senate seat in 2008 and was re-elected in 2014. His latest book acts partly as a memoir and partly as an “insider’s look” at how the American Federal government works (or doesn’t).

 

Full Wolf Moon by Lincoln Child

If politics isn’t your thing, maybe you just want to read a story about a guy accosted by werewolves. Lincoln Child, partnered with Douglas Preston for the Agent Pendergast books, has now branched off to write a few on his own. His paranormal investigator, Jeremy Logan, travels to an isolated writer’s retreat in the Adirondacks to work on his book, but guess what? Yep, werewolves.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

This book is called Norse Mythology and that’s exactly what you get. Neil Gaiman took some of the stories of Odin, Loki, and Thor and reworked them for an audience who may only know these characters through the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Some early reviews were a bit negative, expressing disappointment that “it’s just a book of myths”. But that’s what it is, and well worth a look.

 

Once and for All by Sarah Dessen

A lot of people decide to get married in the summer, and even more people like to read about weddings and watch them and talk about them. So in that spirit, you might enjoy Sarah Dessen’s latest, Once and for All. The main character, Louna, is a wedding planner who doesn’t believe that true love will ever happen to her. I’m not going to get all spoilery on you here, but let’s just say good things happen.

 

Before The Fall by Noah Hawley

Okay, I can hear some of you saying that, politics, werewolves, myths and wedding planners are all well and good, but how about something with a little SUBSTANCE into which we can sink our teeth? I’ve got you covered, friend. Before the Fall is a suspense novel about a tragic plane crash off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. Eleven people were on board, but only two survived. The two survivors, a down on his luck painter, and a four-year old boy (who also happens to be the last surviving member of a wealthy family) form a fragile and unlikely bond as the life stories of the rest of the passengers are told through flashbacks. Poignant!

-Trevor

 

The Fort Garry Book Club Reading List

When it comes to what other people are reading, I’ll admit it – I’m nosey. If I see someone reading on the bus, I’ll try to get a look at the book cover. Or maybe take a quick glance at the page as I walk by a reader in a coffee shop. If you’re as much of a book snoop as I am, I invite you to take a peek over our metaphorical shoulders at what the Fort Garry Book Club read this year.

leftneglected    Left Neglected by Lisa Genova

After brain injury in a car crash steals her awareness of everything on her left side, working mom Sarah must retrain her mind to perceive the world as a whole. In doing so, she learns how to pay attention to the people and parts of her life that matter most.

Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All by Jonas Jonasson hitmananders

Hitman Anders, recently out of prison, is doing small jobs for the big gangsters. Then his life takes an unexpected turn when he joins forces with three unlikely companions to concoct an unusual business plan based on his skills and fearsome reputation. The perfect plan – if it weren’t for Anders’ curiosity about the meaning of it all.

 

This year marks Canada’s 150th birthday. In a timely coincidence, our book club read several titles this year by local Manitoba authors. We’re lucky to live in a province that has such wonderful literary talent to choose from.

afterlight   After Light by Catherine Hunter

This novel follows four generations of the Garrison family through the 20th century. Despite all their tragedies, the creative fire that drives the family survives, burning more and more brightly as it’s passed from one generation to the next.

The Age of Hope by David Bergen      ageofhope

Born in 1930 in a small town outside Winnipeg, beautiful Hope appears destined to have a conventional life. But as the decades unfold, what seems to be a safe, predictable existence overwhelms her. This beautifully crafted and perceptive work of fiction spans some fifty years of Hope’s life in the second half of the 20th century, from traditionalism to feminism and beyond.

index  The Reason You Walk by Wab Kinew

When his father was diagnosed with terminal cancer, Winnipeg broadcaster and musician Wab Kinew decided to spend a year reconnecting with the accomplished but distant Aboriginal man who’d raised him. From his unique vantage point, he offers an inside view of what it means to be an educated Aboriginal living in a country that is just beginning to wake up to its Aboriginal history and living presence.

The Opening Sky by Joan Thomas    openingsky

Liz, Aiden, and Sylvie are an urban, urbane, progressive family. Then the present and the past collide in a crisis that shatters the complacency of all three. They are forced to confront a tragedy from years before, when four children went missing at an artists’ retreat. In the long shadow of that event, the family is drawn to a dangerous precipice.

ThisHiddenThing2  This Hidden Thing by Dora Dueck

The young woman standing outside the prosperous Winnipeg house that day in 1927 knew she must have work. Her family depended on it. But Maria had no idea that her new life as a domestic would mark her for the rest of her days. Her story reminds us how dangerous and powerful secrets can be.

I hope this gives you a few books to add to your own summer reading list!

  • Melanie

Literary Dinner and a Movie

In the remarkable 2010 BBC/PBS television series Sherlock, fictional Dr. John Watson writes his first blog, A Study in Pink, based on the 1887 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novel A Study in Scarlet.  Benedict Cumberbatch, as a rather particular version of Holmes, has replaced the original dusty library with banks of laptops and a smartphone, and the thought-inducing meerschaum pipe with nicotine patches – a three-pipe problem has now become a three-patch problem.   Have you ever wondered what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would think of all this?  Brilliant, obsessed, and quite rude his detective has remained, but have these modern innovators stretched the original Sherlock Holmes too far?  The Thursday evening Charleswood Library Mystery Book Club had jolly good fun discussing this and other aspects of the whole affair after reading the novel in The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes and enjoying a delightful evening of movie-watching and popcorn.

sherlock   annotatedsherlock

 

Not to be outdone, the Saturday morning Charleswood Library Book club, which tends to steer away from mysteries, tried their hand with a Dinner and a Movie night out. After reading Paula Hawkins’ popular and engaging thriller The Girl on the Train, they had a rather enjoyable night out for a screening of Emily Blunt’s movie of the same name, and a dinner afterward.

Cover image for "The Girl on the Train" by Paula Hawins.

The two book clubs at The Charleswood Library seem to be engaged in a healthy competition with one another. If one has an author visit, the other does likewise.  If one goes out for dinner and a movie, the others will head out for a more civilized theatrical version of the book they’re reading, as they did with Simon Stephens’ MTC play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, based on the novel by Mark Haddon.

curiousincident

At year’s end, the competition culminates in a worlds-colliding Holiday Pot Luck Dinner, where the mystery lovers, the fiction lovers, and the cross-overs all bring the most delicious, warm, and satisfying book discussion of the year. This wonderful event brings to mind the 1942 Nabokov poem A Literary Dinner, which will be read at next December’s meeting:

Come here, said my hostess, her face making room
for one of those pink introductory smiles
that link, like a valley of fruit trees in bloom,
the slopes of two names.
I want you, she murmured, to eat Dr. James.

I was hungry. The Doctor looked good. He had read
the great book of the week and had liked it, he said,
because it was powerful. So I was brought
a generous helping. His mauve-bosomed wife
kept showing me, very politely, I thought,
the tenderest bits with the point of her knife.
I ate–and in Egypt the sunsets were swell;
The Russians were doing remarkably well;
had I met a Prince Poprinsky, whom he had known
in Caparabella, or was it Mentone?
They had traveled extensively, he and his wife;
her hobby was People, his hobby was Life.
All was good and well cooked, but the tastiest part
was his nut-flavored, crisp cerebellum. The heart
resembled a shiny brown date,
and I stowed all the studs on the edge of my plate.* 

 

~ Ian

*This poem can be found in Poems and Problems by Vladimir Nabokov, p. 152.

 

“Secret” Things the Library Can Do for You (Part 3)

Need a place to chill out (literally) as you run hither and yon this summer? I suggest you take a relaxing break at the nearest WPL branch. I’ll bet you drive or bus past one regularly. Why not drop in and get caught up with the daily paper or magazines? Or enjoy our air conditioning and free WiFi? And drink some water – you know you don’t drink enough water.

Here are some other things you might not know we offer, as part three of our “’Secret’ things the library can do for you” series.

Secrets

Obviously discussing the library

 

Free movie screenings

That’s right – free movies, just bring your own snack. Every month the Millennium Library hosts super popular movies that were adapted from books for both adults and kids. Coming soon, Lion, based on A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid, based on the series by Jeff Kinney.

Some branches also hold NFB Film clubs for both adults and kids. This summer three branches will be hosting special kids’ screenings of NFB short films on Indigenous Legends.

 

Art and sculpture

june9art

The art of Jennifer Sanderson is coming to the Millennium Library in July

The Millennium Library has so much art inside and out that it’s featured in the Winnipeg Arts Council walking tours. It also hosts rotating exhibits in its Blankstein Gallery, a feature that is so popular, it has been adapted into art walls for smaller branches, some of which have already begun showing exhibits by local groups and schools.

 

Let us look it up!

Ask Us

Ask us! Look how friendly we are.

Do you know what people did before Google? They called the library. Many people still do! We love it when you ask us to research things. We can find addresses and phone numbers, old newspaper articles, building codes, car prices… I once helped a gentleman find the right size hole to only allow the birds we wanted into the bird house he was building.

 

We ♥ WPG

 

Westwood

A West End literary walk

We love to highlight the history and beauty of our city with talks and walking tours and special collections online and in print (side point: have you seen the new Local History Room??). We’ll help you explore your city, neighbourhood, and even house. Yes, house. You can search for your address in our Henderson Directories going back to 1880 to see who used to live there!

And now that we have our book bike, we can bring the library with us wherever we go. Look for us the next time you’re at a festival, or, for that matter, the Goodwill Social Club (Wednesday, August 16).

 

Our love in action:

WPL at Pride 2017

WPL at Pride 2017

 

Happy summer!

 

Erica

 

 

 

Be Here Now

 

“In today’s rush, we all think too much — seek too much — want too much — and forget about the joy of just being.” ~Eckhart Tolle

 

Now more than ever it seems that life is ridiculously busy.  The evolution of technology which was intended to make life easier has instead created more problems and accelerated the pace of our lives to a ridiculous, unsustainable velocity.  Just listen to someone yelling at Siri if you don’t believe me. We’ve gotten so advanced that we’re de-evolving in some ways. Instead of using the prefrontal cortex of our brains, which manages planning, emotional reactions and solving problems we’re in a continual state of overdrive on the amygdalla, which governs our fight or flight reactions and our sense of fear.

In the midst of all of this sound and fury seeking tranquility and calm can feel like another source of stress. Finding the perfect time and place to contemplate life is a very tall order, but meditation doesn’t have to be done sitting in the lotus position in an empty room for hours at a time. Meditative practices can be done anytime and anywhere, and the benefits are immediate and amazing.

 

Wherever You Go There You Are   wherever

Each chapter of this book offers a new insight into ways to bring more mindfulness and relaxation into everyday life, even when you’re washing dishes or driving to work. The mindfulness practices Jon Kabat-Zinn  writes about are easy and accessible techniques to bring a little meditation into your daily routine. With a little practice, it becomes as automatic as brushing your teeth, and can have as many health benefits.

 

Taming the Drunken Monkey           taming

Not only does this book have one of the top 10 non fiction book titles of all time (it’s number 8 on my list) it contains an intriguing mix of  Eastern medicine, Western therapies and ancient teachings. William Miklaus has brought these concepts together in a way that speaks to someone looking for physical benefits as well as to someone in search of a more creative way of living.

 

When Things Fall Apart         when

Pema Chordron is the first American woman to become a fully ordained Buddhist monk. She has written numerous books, and is the director of the Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia. This is a book to be read slowly and in stages, in order to begin to absorb the teachings. I found myself with more questions than answers by the end, but surprisingly it wasn’t frustrating, more like walking through a narrow gap in a hedge to find more beautiful gardens to explore.

 

A Boy Named Queen     

If you’re not looking to contemplate, but still feel flooded and overwhelmed, try checking out A Boy Named Queen. In this children’s book,  Queen teaches a classmate a great lesson about filtering out the cruel words of their schoolmates. Sara Cassidy wrote this book for children, but the message  works just as well for adults who need to take a step back from all of the unwanted input that is constantly bombarding us.

Even if just reading the word meditation immediately fills you with fear and loathing, you can still find some measure of calm and centeredness in our super saturated, super speedy world. Just take a moment, take a breath, and be here now.

-Lori

 

 

 

The Business of War: The Canadian Home Front in the First World War

business-of-war.png

The Winnipeg Public Library is hosting a new traveling exhibit created by the Canadian Centre for the Great War open to the general public at the Millennium Library.  The exhibit “The Business of War: Canadian Businesses and the First World War” is located on the 4th floor and is about Canada’s wartime mobilization on the home front. Its panels explore how Canadian businesses large and small aided the war effort by supplying goods and helping to lift people’s spirits and raise money in order to keep support our troops and the overall Allied cause.  While warfare throughout the ages always required soldiers fighting on battlefields, the First World War also came to require of Canadians an unprecedented mobilization of all their resources and that is where the term “home front” was coined.  Library materials related to the exhibit are displayed as well so you can further your knowledge about this topic.

Image result for The Great War and Canadian Society: An Oral History  Cover image for Hometown horizons : local responses to Canada's Great War

One of the library’s older (published in 1978) but valuable title that is filled with personal accounts of this time period is The Great War and Canadian Society: An Oral History.  The book was written when Canadians who had lived through that time were still able to provide a living link to our history and the testimonies included come from people from all walks of life, ages, and locations.  I definitely recommend it for those interested in reading about men and women’s experiences in wartime Canada.
In Hometown Horizons: Local Responses to Canada’s Great War, historian Robert Rutherdale has chosen three Canadian towns (Lethbridge, Alberta, Guelph, Ontario, and Trois-Rivières, Quebec) in order to explore the local social history of the war, and how it affected these communities in different ways.  The demonizing of potential “enemy aliens” and other subversive forces is explored in Lethbridge as one internment camp was built there, as well as local citizens’ reactions to its presence.  The Conscription Crisis where efforts of Canadians to avoid being drafted resulted in aggressive raids to collect draft dodgers is explored in Guelph.  The rift that developed between returning veterans’ experiences on the front versus the second-hand and heavily censored portrayal made available on the home front is also explored, as well as the break with the past the war had on many aspects of life, notably on the role of women in the work force.
Cover image for Fight or pay : soldiers' families in the Great War
Desmond Morton’s book Fight or pay : soldiers’ families in the Great War is about those who were left to carry on when sons and husbands were sent overseas to fight and how the government’s early efforts to create a safety net were spurred by war’s traumatic impact on the home front. It’s often overlooked that the conflict ended up costing lives at home as well as the front as numerous families lost their main provider and had to rely on charity (such as the Patriotic Fund) and limited military pensions from Ottawa at a time where attitudes toward such support was quite negative.  It also heralded a new reality where both the state and private philanthropists were managing family decisions that had never been their business before.   This book will be of interest to those wanting to increase their understanding of the issues that faced the families and the fighting men in 1914-1918.

Cover image for Firing lines : three Canadian women write the First World War

Firing lines : three Canadian women write the First World War by Debbie Marshall is the story of three Canadian journalists who were present in both France and England during the pivotal events of the conflict and reported their personal observations in letters, articles and books.  Mary MacLeod Moore, a writer for Saturday Night magazine , covered the war’s impact on women, from the munitions factories to the kitchens of London’s tenements. Beatrice Nasmyth, a writer for the Vancouver Province, managed the successful wartime political campaign of Canadian Roberta MacAdams and attended the Versailles Peace Conference as Premier Arthur Sifton’s press secretary. Elizabeth Montizambert was in France during the war and witnessed the suffering of its people first-hand. She was often near the fighting, serving as a canteen worker and writing about her experiences for the Montreal Gazette.

Cover image for No free man : Canada, the Great War, and the enemy alien experience
About 8,000 Canadian civilians were imprisoned during the First World War because of their ethnic ties to Germany, Austria-Hungary, and other enemy nations. Although not as well-known as the later internment of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War, these incarcerations played a crucial role in shaping debates about Canadian citizenship, diversity, and loyalty and this is what No free man : Canada, the Great War, and the enemy alien experience by Bohdan Kordan aims to demonstrate.  Re-settled in a network of government-run camps throughout Canada, they were forcibly mobilized in the war effort, most often in agriculture or lumber industries.  This is a valuable book about the dark side of our country’s war effort that remains as pertinent to our present world as then.
Come and check it out.
Louis-Philippe

Pride Began With a Riot

WPL Pride

Happy Pride everyone!  This year is the 30th anniversary of the pride parade in Winnipeg and its guaranteed to be a fabulous time.

Did you know that in the past authorities in the United States and Canada would regularly raid and shut down gay bars and arrest the staff and patrons?  On June 28, 1969, New York City a spontaneous riot happened at the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in Greenwich Village. When police began arresting people  a crowd gathered and police had to barricade themselves inside the bar for most of the night.  Led by transgender activists like Sylvia Rivera – this was part of what sparked the gay rights movement and this is why Pride is held in June – to commemorate the demonstrations that took place that night.

Here are some great book available at WPL if you’d like to learn more:

Stonewall: The Riots that Sparked the Gay Revolution – by David Carter

Stonewall: Breaking out in the fight for gay rights – by Ann Bausum

Queer: a Graphic History – by Meg John Barker

A Queer history of the United States by Michael Bronski

Queer Street: rise and fall of an American culture 1947-1985 by James McCourt

Never Going Back: A History of Queer Activism in Canada by Tom Warner

Queers Were Here

Queers were here : heroes & icons of queer Canada by Robin Ganev and RJ Gilmour

If you are interested in the history of LGBTTQ+ community in Winnipeg check out this great little documentary: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/absolutelycanadian/one-gay-city-a-history-of-lgbt-life-in-winnipeg-1.3607205

Go to Winnipeg Public Library’s LGBTTQ+ Info Guide for more archival and historical resources on the LGBTTQ+ community.

Winnipeg Public library staff will be out for 2017 Winnipeg Pride parade happening on Sunday, June 4th.

See you there!

The Legacy of Wonder Woman

The new Wonder Woman movie comes out this weekend, and I have very high hopes that a female superhero movie will finally be up to snuff with the movies from the Marvel cinematic universe as well as some of the DC movies. The film features some fantastic and strong actors such as Robin Wright, Gal Gadot, and Connie Nielsen, just to name a few, and was directed by a woman, Patty Jenkins; therefore it should hopefully pass the Bechdel test.

In the past, studios seemed to be reluctant to create action films with strong female leads and about female superheroes, whether due to the fact that  Catwoman with Halle Barry did not do well (which I don’t believe was Halle Barry’s fault) or their belief that female superheroes don’t attract a large audience. It does seem that Hollywood is hearing the outcry of fans who want a strong female lead in action movies, with the most recent two Star Wars films featuring such heroines, Supergirl on the small screen and now Wonder Woman. This gives me hope that they might finally make a Black Widow movie, or that the Captain Marvel movie which was recently announced will be just as good as many of the Marvel films.

The library has plenty of graphic novels that cover all your favourite female superheroes, as well as some heroines who may not be categorized as superheroes but still possess some pretty awesome powers and abilities.

Catwoman

catwoman

Depicted sometimes as a villain, sometimes an ally and sometimes a love interest for Batman, Catwoman wears many different suits. A woman who goes by her own moral code and one protects those closest to her, she makes for an interesting female character and, naturally, has her own set of graphic novels and is featured in Batman graphic novels as well. Check them out at the library, they’re purrfect!

Supergirl

supergirl

Superman’s “super” cousin has come to the small screen with great success. You can read more of her adventures in these graphic novels where, unlike Superman, she came to earth as a teenager and must navigate *gulp* high school and all the difficulties that go along with it while learning how to use and control her powers.

The X-Men with Jean Grey and Storm

jeangrey    storm

We may not have many stand-alone volumes of Jean Grey and Storm, both members of the X-Men, but we do have some great graphic novels with both of these characters who possess some pretty incredible abilities such as reading minds and telekinesis or controlling the weather. The X-Men series features many more strong female characters and superheroes that I couldn’t possibly list all of here.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

buffy

Though Buffy may not be your typical superhero, she was created by Joss Whedon, director of two of the amazing Avengers films. She fights off demons, vampires and any other crazy supernatural beings that come to Sunnydale and endanger the citizens of her town. The series also includes other strong female characters such as Willow, Buffy’s best friend and Tara, Willow’s friend and eventual love interest. The TV series was absolutely fantastic, and the graphic novels offer a nice fix for those of you missing Buffy Summers on your TV screen.

Anita Blake

anitablake

Originally written as a novel, the first few books in Laurell K. Hamilton’s series have been made into graphic novels and feature, similar to Buffy, a vampire hunter who is also a hired detective and an animator, one who raises the dead to help families say goodbye. The characters are wonderful and the world-building excellent, check out the graphic novel and/or the novels, both available through the library.

 

Wonder Woman

wonderwoman

I can’t do a Wonder Woman movie blog without also talking about the Wonder Woman comics, of which the library has tons! Diana Prince’s adventures on her own as well as with other Justice League members make for fantastic reading and excellent preparation and background research before the movie comes out!

 

 

And check out this new release:

wonderwoman2

Wonder Woman: The Ultimate Guide to the Amazon Warrior by Landry Q. Walker contains all the facts, history and information on the long-lived legacy of Diana Prince.

This list is certainly not exhaustive! There are plenty of other great female heroes out there; let me know your favourites in the comments below.

Fingers crossed Wonder Woman lives up to the hype. I’m seeing it in AVX this weekend and I sure hope it’s good–if not, I’ll just keep hoping for a Black Widow movie…

Aileen

Real Food for Families

Making healthy choices in the kitchen is essential to your family’s health.  And yet, society is struggling against a relentless storm of less and less home cooking….and more and more processed food.  Don’t give in, and do not follow suit.  Protect your family, and invest in a healthy lifestyle.

I’m a bit crazy about “real” food.  OK, a lot crazy about “real” food.  I love to cook, and I’m pretty obsessed about simple, natural, wholesome ingredients.  I wasn’t always so obsessed though.  Growing up, some of my favorite foods were Zoodles, Fruit Loops, Kraft Dinner, and (gasp!) Cheez Whiz on toast.  It wasn’t until I moved away from home, and started cooking my own meals, that I realized how great it feels to prepare and eat nutritious dishes that actually fuel my body.

Cut scene, enter two kids.  Suddenly, I was responsible for the well-being of two little munchkins, whose bodies were growing and thriving, based on the meals that I was putting in front of them.  Not only that, I felt a renewed sense of duty to be the healthiest possible “me” I could be, in order to ensure my own longevity and health as a mother.  I want to, not only, be able to keep up with my kids, but inspire them as time goes by.

But things get complicated with kids.  You see, cooking for two adults who get excited about, say….grilled eggplant, was easy.  Cooking for two kids under the age of 4?  Extremely challenging.  It’s the pickiness factor that is the most frustrating thing.  Trust me, I know.  Neither of my kids will eat chicken without peanut butter spread on it.  And every time one of them spits out the food I lovingly prepared (“yyyyuuuuuck”), it does hurt a little.  But in the end, I know that if I offer them healthy choices, they will not starve themselves.  And I will be teaching them an important lesson about food, and how it has the power to deliver a healthy life.

Creativity is key with kids.  And cooking is no different.  So when I’m looking for a little inspiration, I wander over to the cookbook section of the library, and take a few books home with me.  Below, you will find a few of my favorites, tried, tested and true:

100 Days of Real Food by Lisa Leake
The creator of the 100 Days of Real Food blog draws from her hugely popular website to offer simple, affordable, family-friendly recipes and practical advice for eliminating processed foods from your family’s diet.

Inspired by Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food, Lisa Leake decided her family’s eating habits needed an overhaul. She, her husband, and their two small girls pledged to go 100 days without eating highly processed or refined foods–a challenge she opened to readers on her blog.

Now, she shares their story, offering insights and cost-conscious recipes everyone can use to enjoy wholesome natural food–whole grains, fruits and vegetables, seafood, locally raised meats, natural juices, dried fruit, seeds, popcorn, natural honey, and more.

Weelicious: 140 Fast, Fresh and Easy Recipes by Catherine McCord
Every parent knows how difficult it is to get to get kids eating happily and healthily. Catherine McCord has the answer: Weelicious! Creator of the wildly popular blog Weelicious.com, Catherine, who honed her cooking skills at Manhattan’s Institute of Culinary Education, strongly believes in the “one family/one meal” idea–preparing a single, scrumptious meal the entire family can sit down and enjoy together rather than having to act as “short order cook” for kids who each want something different. In Weelicious, she offers dozens of recipes and tips for creating quick, easy, healthy, and fun food that moms, dads, and young children of any age will absolutely adore–from the most persnickety infants to the pickiest grade-schoolers.

The Best Homemade Kids’ Lunches on the Planet by Laura Fuentes
We all know that kids need to eat right and get the nutrition they need to be their best all day long. So why not make lunches that will power their growing brains and bodies? Making lunches at home is a great way to keep your child healthy. Not only does it allow you to nourish your child with the most pure and wholesome ingredients, but it also gives you the peace of mind of knowing what has gone into every bite your little one takes. Full of recipes to suit every age and stage, The Best Homemade Kids’ Lunches on the Planet shows you how simple and easy it is to prepare food that’ll be the envy of the lunch table. The 200+ adorable and inspiring recipes in this book are just as much a joy to make as they are to eat! There are even entire lunchbox meals that are gluten-, soy-, and/or nut-free. Make your own super-delicious, super-nutritious homemade lunches today–it’s guaranteed to be at the top of the class!

Little Bento by Michele Olivier
Your challenge: Packing a healthy lunch for your picky little eater. Your solution: The bento box! Little Bento is your ultimate bento guide to planning, preparing, and assembling yummy, wholesome, easy bento box lunches that your kids will actually eat. Say “buh-bye” to the stress of getting your kids to eat, and “hello” to the deliciously simple bento box with:

Over 100 seasonally-inspired bento recipes and 32 photos of fully-assembled bento boxes for easy guidance Expert guidance from mom, food blogger, and bestselling author of Little Foodie, Michele Olivier, who shows you how to make balanced bento meals using the #1 selling kids’ lunch box A weekly bento meal planning worksheet with helpful tips for planning your bento lunches in advance Quick reference bento ingredient lists assist in making safe decisions for food sensitive or allergic eaters.

How to Feed a Family by Laura Keogh
What could be more important to parents than a healthy, well-fed family? As two urban, working moms, Ceri Marsh and Laura Keogh learned quickly how challenging healthy meal-times can be. So they joined forces to create the Sweet Potato Chronicles, a website written for, and by, non-judgmental moms, packed full of nutritious recipes for families.

In the How to Feed a Family cookbook, Laura and Ceri have selected their very favorite recipes, to create a collection of more than 100 for all ages to enjoy. These are recipes that are tailored specifically to families: they are simple, fast, easy-to-follow, and use ingredients that are readily-available at your local grocery store. Ceri and Laura unveil their tried, tested and true tricks for turning nutritious, sophisticated dishes into kid-friendly masterpieces, that will guarantee you success at meal-time, time and time again.

~ Lindsay