Monthly Archives: January 2017

Pun and Games

Of puns it has been said that those who most dislike them are those who are least able to utter them.

Edgar Allan Poe

It has also been said that puns are the lowest form of humour, but I disagree. Playing with words and discovering new, albeit perhaps not funny, ways to use them is a great way to experience the joys of language. Like taking a side road or unplanned detour, puns can direct you to a wonderful place you never knew existed. When you make a pun you’re pretty much guaranteed some sort of reaction from the audience, positive or negative, which shows that people are paying attention to your words. Whether you get a groan or a grin, someone has decoded your message. In the best case scenario, people start trading puns back and forth, which can lead to all sorts of punny situations.

Using puns in the titles of mystery novels is a natural fit. Puns are a form of verbal misdirection, and in many mystery novels the detective figure follows many false leads until they discover the truth.

This book will quack you up.

This book will quack you up.

In the end, the criminal gets his just desserts.

In the end, the criminal gets his just desserts.

Puns aren’t just for adults, though. Children who have 20,000 – 30,000 words in their vocabulary by the age of five have an easier time learning to read, and reading is simply interpreting words and their meanings. By exposing children to puns, jokes and wordplay you’re demonstrating the enjoyment that words can bring, and setting them up for a lifelong love of learning. Puns are also a key component to edu-tainment; teaching while entertaining. The other great thing about using puns with children is that they are a completely fresh audience. Even the oldest, stalest pun in your arsenal will be new to them, which guarantees a great response.

Kids just wanna have pun!

Kids just wanna have pun.

do-unto-otters

An alternate title could be: “Do as You Otter.”

The old saying “slow as molasses in January” can be applied to our brain functions. I know for myself that I move a lot more sluggishly in the cold. January is Brain Teaser Month, so to celebrate that why not try some punning yourself, or read something new with some plays on words? It’s a great way to jump start your thinking process, and keep your brain in shape.

pun-also-rises

And, as everyone knows, it sets in the West.

get-thee-to-a-punnery

Or to the Punitentiary

As adults, our neural network isn’t developing at the same rate that it does in children, but it’s still vital to keep exercising our brains. The mind is a muscle that can move the world, but only if it’s kept strong and healthy. Paronomasia, aka puns, are agility exercises for your brain, and you don’t have to be at the gym or work up a sweat with this type of workout.

Puns are an amusing way to pass the time on a long car trip or bus ride, they can be a great icebreaker at a party, or a way to start a speech with a joke. There are many ways and reasons to incorporate puns in your life, and I’ve only mentioned a few here. So what are you waiting for? Get on out there and join in the pun and games!

– Lori

What’s new in Alternate History Fiction?

It has been a while since I blogged about alternate history novels and there have been quite a few great new additions to the library’s collection, challenging the reader to imagine our world if it taken divergent paths in its history.

 

Cover image for JudenstaatIn Judenstaatauthor Simone Zelitch imagines the consequences for the Jewish people and the rest of the world if a Jewish state had been created in central Europe, in the region of Saxony, instead of in Palestine in 1948. The story begins forty years later with a historian preparing a documentary celebrating the anniversary of Judenstaat given new evidence about the death of one if its founding fathers. Her investigation brings to light uncomfortable truths about the nation’s past. The change in the timeline brings a different Cold War, with Judenstaat building its own version of the Berlin Wall (to keep out potential “fascists”), and tackles national myths and their place in countries’ identities.

 

Cover image for Hystopia : a novel

Hystopia gives us a totally different 1960’s where John F. Kennedy not only survived multiple assassination attempts but is now in his third term as United States President. The Vietnam War is still ongoing but a new “Psych Corps” has been created by the government to take charge of traumatized veterans and clean their memories with drugs and therapy. One of these returned soldiers is an author trying to write the novel that will honour his brothers-in-arms (the story is told as a novel within the novel), even as some of the more psychologically-scarred ones are roaming the U.S. countryside and recreating the atrocities they lived through. This is a challenging read as it does not shy from scenes of strong violence, but it also tries the challenge of recreating the unease and paranoid feeling of being in the US in the troubled 1970’s.

 

bombs-awayThe ever-prolific Harry Turtledove is working on his newest trilogy – the Hot War trilogy. The first two volumes are already available: Bombs Away and Fallout. The first one is called Bombs Away. This is a tale told from multiple point of views (a characteristic of Turtledove’s storytelling) and tells of how the world became embroiled in nuclear warfare in 1951, after General Douglas MacArthur escalated the Korean War. In an age before missiles and jet bombers, the war between the Western and Eastern blocks slowly escalates and risks spinning out of anyone’s control to stop it before humanity faces extinction. Ordinary people from nations around the globe, both civilians and combatants, are shown trying to cope with unprecedented nuclear destruction in a chilling but all-too plausible scenario.

 

ink-and-boneThis next trilogy, The Great Library, written by Rachel Caine, includes elements of fantasy in addition to its alternate history setting.  In Ink and Bone we discover a world in the near-future where the great Library of Alexandria (the largest library in the ancient world, containing works by the greatest thinkers and writers of antiquity) was not destroyed. The Library has grown into the greatest depository of human knowledge in the world, becoming the all-powerful ruler of society through its control of access to knowledge.  Thanks to alchemy, the knowledge of its books can be transmitted to everyone instantaneously (like ebooks today), but private ownership of books is a capital offence, with a black market booming in illegal books. The main protagonist is from a family of book smugglers who joins the Library’s ranks as a spy but how will coming into contact with people worshipping knowledge over human life and their immense power change him?

 

Cover image for Clash of eaglesClash of Eagles, the first volume of the Esperian trilogy by Alan Smale, tells the story of a Roman general captured by Cahokians after his legion is massacred while attempting the conquest of North America. Having been spared and gradually accepted by them, he must decide if he still fits in the empire’s plans of expansion or join his adopted people whose culture he has grown to admire. It’s a story of a clash of two cultures who never met in our history but realistically imagines how such an event might have unfolded and transformed our world. This series is recommended for action/adventure fans as well as history buffs.

 

clockworkFinally, closer to home, Clockwork Canada: Steampunk Fiction by Dominik Parisien is a collection of 15 stories about how steam technology might have reshaped the history of our country. You’ll read of mythical clockwork creatures that roam the landscapes of New France terrorizing the settlers in “Clochemard” and Mounties pursuing steam-powered buffalo-girl hybrids and solve a string of murders in “Buffalo Gals” (a Canadian superweapon that could change history). Many stories deal with real issues about our history like colonization, racism, and industrialisation’s impact on human society and the environment. It is quite a good read if you are in the mood for something local.

 

– Louis-Philippe

2017 Movies which started as Library Books

As the calendar year turns, it’s a great time to reflect back and to look forward. One of my favourite things at this time is to discover new movies on the horizon. Often the best are based on solid novels otherwise known as library books. Which books have been chosen to be made into new, hopefully insightful and thrilling movies in 2017? Many are coming, but here are just a few for your consideration. How best to prepare? Read or reread the book (or at least a good book review).

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Silence by Shusaku Endo

“The most important novel of the acclaimed Japanese author Shusako Endo caused a major controversy in Japan following its publication in 1967. Now with a forward by Martin Scorsese (the movie’s director). A Japanese Catholic, Endo tells the story of two 17th-century missionaries attempting to shore up the oppressed Japanese Christian movement. Father Rodriques has come to Japan to find the truth behind unthinkable rumors that his famous teacher Ferreira has renounced his faith. But after his arrival he discovers that the only way to help the brutally persecuted Christians may be to apostatize himself.” (Publisher summary)
Stars Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver and Liam Neeson
Release: January 6

 

Dennis-Lehane.jpgLive By Night by Dennis Lehane

“From New York Times bestselling author Dennis Lehane comes this epic, unflinching tale of the making and unmaking of a gangster in the Prohibition Era of the Roaring Twenties–now a Warner Bros. movie. Meticulously researched and artfully told, Live by Night is the riveting story of one man’s rise from Boston petty thief to the Gulf Coast’s most successful rum runner, and it proves again that the accolades Lehane consistently receives are well deserved.” (Publisher summary)
Stars Ben Affleck, Elle Fanning, Zoe Saldana, and Sienna Miller
Release: January 13

 

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The Gunslinger  by Stephen King

“‘An impressive work of mythic magnitude that may turn out to be Stephen King’s greatest literary achievement’ (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution), The Gunslinger is the first volume in the epic Dark Tower Series.

“A #1 national bestseller, The Gunslinger introduces readers to one of Stephen King’s most powerful creations, Roland of Gilead: The Last Gunslinger. He is a haunting figure, a loner on a spellbinding journey into good and evil. In his desolate world, which mirrors our own in frightening ways, Roland tracks The Man in Black, encounters an enticing woman named Alice, and begins a friendship with the boy from New York named Jake. Inspired in part by the Robert Browning narrative poem, ‘Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came,’ The Gunslinger is ‘a fresh compelling whirlpool of a story that draws one irretrievable to its center’ (Milwaukee Sentinal). It is ‘brilliant and fresh…and will leave you panting for more’ (Booklist).” (Publisher summary)
Stars Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba
Release: July 28

 

The-mountain-between-us-by-charles-martin.jpgThe Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin

“Flying together on a storm-ravaged night are a surgeon facing a painful separation from his wife and a young magazine writer on her way to her wedding. When their plane crashes in a frigid and remote mountain wilderness, they must learn, as week follows week without rescue, to rely on each other for their mutual survival.” (Publisher summary)
Stars Idris Elba and Kate Winslet
Release: October 20

 

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Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey

“Fourth-grade class clowns George Beard and Harold Hutchins have created the greatest superhero in the history of the elementary school — and now they’re going to bring him to life! Meet Captain Underpants! His true identity is SO secret even HE doesn’t know who he is!” (Publisher summary)
Stars Kevin Hart, Kristen Schaal, and Nick Kroll
Release: June 2

 


It
by Stephen Kingindex.aspx.jpeg

“It’s a place as hauntingly familiar as your own hometown. Only in Derry, the haunting is real. In 1958, the small town of Derry, Maine, is shaken by a series of brutal murders targeting children. That fateful summer, seven kids are drawn together in a fierce bond of friendship to face a force of unspeakable evil. Unsure if they have vanquished the nightmarish creature that lurks in Derry’s sewers, they vow to return should IT ever reappear. Twenty-seven years later, when the murder cycle begins again, they are summoned back to their hometown, reunited for a final, decisive battle against the reawakened evil. Winner of the British Fantasy Award and the bestselling book in America when it was published in 1986, It is Stephen King’s incomparable epic about evil in all its forms and that which it cannot destroy.” (Publisher summary)
Stars Bill Skarsgard, Finn Wolfhard, and Jaeden Lieberher
Release: September 8

 

The-Breadwinner-by-Deborah-Ellis.jpgThe Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis

“Afghanistan: Parvana’s father is arrested and taken away by the Taliban soldiers. Under Taliban law, women and girls are not allowed to leave the house on their own. Parvana, her mother, and sisters are prisoners in their own home. With no man to go out to buy food, they face starvation. So Parvana must pretend to be a boy to save her family. It is a dangerous plan, but their only chance. In fear, she goes out – and witnesses the horror of avoiding landmines, and the brutality of the Taliban. She suffers beatings and the desperation of trying to survive. But even in despair lies hope.” (Publisher summary)
Stars Soma Bhatia, Ali Kazmi and Kane Mahon
Release: 2017

 


The Long Home
by William GayThe-Long-Home-by-William-Gay.jpg

“In a literary voice that is both original and powerfully unsettling, William Gay tells the story of Nathan Winer, a young and headstrong Tennessee carpenter who lost his father years ago to a human evil that is greater and closer at hand than any the boy can imagine – until he learns of it first-hand.” (Publisher summary)
Stars James Franco, Josh Hartnett, Josh Hutcherson, Ashton Kutcher, Timothy Hutton and Courtney Love
Release: 2017

Happy reading and viewing!

  • Lyle

Music to my (little) ears!

Many of us grew up singing “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” But how many times did you sing the song before you actually knew what a waterspout was?

When I was little, I thought a waterspout was the faucet in the bathtub. My mother could never understand why I didn’t want to get in the tub until the faucet was turned off–I was waiting for the spider to come tumbling out!

Singing songs with children provides a great opportunity to build vocabulary, and in many ways, music can act as a springboard to literacy. Singing can help children hear the smaller sounds that make up words — and this will help them sound out words when they start to read.

At the library, music and rhymes are a key component of our pre-school programming.  You can also borrow a huge stack of kids music CDs from any of our branches — or stream music directly to your phone, tablet or computer using Hoopla, a free online service available through WPL!

Here are some of the most popular CD’s for kids currently available on Hoopla!:

sing

moana

laurie
frozen

kidzbop

disney

Lindsay