Monthly Archives: July 2017

The “IT” Villain

In the small town of Derry, people are disappearing, children are being murdered. The police believe it’s some sadistic killer who’s turned their sight on the young and vulnerable. In this climate of fear the police impose a curfew, hoping that it will keep kids safe. Parents remind their children not to talk to strangers. Don’t stay out late. It’s only a matter of time before this lunatic will be caught – and eventually life will return to normal. As summer vacation begins, kids are looking forward to a well deserved break. Baseball, firecrackers, horror movies, playing with your friends – this is what it’s all about. But it’s not easy being a kid. Even though school is over, local bully Henry Bowers and his friends continue to hassle their classmates. Unfortunately, there’s a bigger problem and it’s lurking in the sewers. ‘IT’ written by Stephen King, is the story of the Loser Club, a group of kids who band together to defeat a monster and stop its killing spree.

A good antagonist isn’t necessarily evil, it’s more than that. A well written villain, has a plan, they torment, taunt, and manipulate their prey. If they aren’t careful they let their guard down and become its next victim. Stephen King brings us Pennywise the Dancing Clown, a monster who appears as a clown, which allows IT to lure children into a false sense of security, until it’s too late. This novel is responsible for introducing the scary clown, which has become part of pop culture. But why a clown? I think it’s because people either like or hate clowns – there’s no middle ground. Clowns are supposed to entertain us, they make jokes and slip on banana peels. They’re supposed to be silly not scary. You might not think anything is out of the ordinary if you see a clown handing out balloons. But it’s another thing altogether when that clown is hanging out in sewers, offering balloons to children. Once again, Stephen King takes something that’s completely normal and twists it into something horrible.

Even if you’ve never read ‘IT’ you’ve probably seen a picture of Pennywise. If an evil clown isn’t your thing, no problem – there are other reasons you should read ‘IT’. The 80s cult-classic ‘The Goonies’ and Netflix’s hit series ‘Stranger Things’, are heavily influenced by Stephen King and this novel. First of all, it features a group of kids who are the main protagonists. Second, these characters embark on an adventure to defeat a terrible antagonist. It is their camaraderie and love for one another forges a powerful bond which is vital to their success and their survival. The fact that these kids, against all odds, would band together to kill a monster is unbelievable. But it’s also awesome. Is there anyone else, other than a group of childhood best friends, that would set out to kill a monster? (Apparently all the adults are busy.)

Stephen King has written fifty four novels as well as almost two hundred short stories; however, ‘IT’ is one of his best known novels. For more than thirty years ‘IT’ has terrified readers, and coming this September the movie will be released. Come see what the fuss is about and remember, “We all float down here.”

 

For Science!

disappearingspoon.jpgThere’s a misconception that some carry around after tossing their graduation caps and cleaning out their high school lockers that reading about science is boring. And while, yes, the subject matter in the wrong hands can be tedious and dull, some of the best stories come out of scientific serendipity, odd foot notes, and tangential study. One of my favourite genres to read is what some refer to as “cocktail-party science”. Likely, this is intended as a disparaging remark, conjuring up a vision of a 1960s affair where the ladies have long drapey silk scarves that they toss about saying, “Psshaw, science! I don’t even know the meaning of the word!” and the men all have oddly tight-fitting suits and giant cigars stuffed into the corners of their mouths as they guffaw themselves into a thick cloud of smoke.

So, here’s a short (hah!) list of some of my favourite nonfiction (science) authors and titles; the ones that will have you bothering those in your immediate vicinity with bursts of, “Did you know…?” and, “Listen to this…” until they sigh heavily, gather up their things, and find somewhere else to sit/work/live:

violiniststhumb.jpgSam Kean: Look, I’m not even going to pretend that this whole blog post wasn’t initially a thinly veiled love letter to Sam Kean’s writing. He tops out all my lists of accessible, fun to read nonfiction, exploding with facts that I have to read aloud to my cat because my husband has had, in his words, “enough, already”. Kean’s first book, The Disappearing Spoon, covers the curiosities of the periodic table (stay with me), his later books delve into genetics (The Violinist’s Thumb), neuroscience (The Case of the Dueling Neurosurgeons), and coming out this July a title about the most captivating topic of all: air! (Caesar’s Last Breath).

 

 

packingformars.jpgPacking for Mars by Mary Roach. Mary Roach is another science journalist who grabs onto a subject and shakes it until all the fun stuff falls out. She then slams that fun stuff between book covers and makes a million dollars*. If you’re not interested in the details, dangers, and possibilities of space travel, Roach has also covered the topics of digestion (Guts), the alimentary canal more generally (Gulp), sex (Bonk), human cadavers (Stiff), the afterlife (Spook), and, most recently, the history of warfare (Grunt).

 

workingstiff.jpgIf the word “cadavers” up there sparked your interest, you should also check out Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner by Dr. Judy Melinek. This title follows Dr. Melinek’s years working as a forensic pathologist (she started her training in New York City just two months prior to September 2001), as well as countless bizarre and fascinating cases of investigating and determining cause of death.

smokegetsinyoureyes.jpgCover image for Curtains : adventures of an undertaker-in-trainingIf you’ll permit me to stretch this macabre topic a little further: there’ve also been a few books written about those trying out employment at crematoriums and funeral homes. Try out The Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty, and Curtains: Adventures in Undertaking by Tom Jokinen which takes place at a local Winnipeg funeral home.

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Okay, let’s lighten things up a bit with a little ornithology: The Thing with Feathers: the surprising lives of birds and what they reveal about being human by Noah K. Strycker. If you’ve ever wanted to cross the threshold into the realm of bird journalism, you’ve found your entry point. It’s a thoroughly engaging, almost poetic look at the lives of our winged friends. But, caveat lector: this one comes with a high likelihood of bombarding those around you with factoids aplenty.

 

wickedplants.jpgWickedbugs.jpg drunkenbotanist.jpg

Want something lighter still? Amy Stewart covers the understated and quietly terrifying world of both plants (Wicked Plants) and bugs (you guessed it, Wicked Bugs). If you’re interested in never taking another hike without incessantly glancing around as though the whole world was trying to take you out, these are books you’ll want to devour. If you’d rather examine plants for their more useful qualities, try Stewart’s The Drunken Botanist for how to incorporate your yard/park/local plant conservatory (don’t try that last one, it probably won’t end well) into your next nightcap.

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If bugs aren’t small enough for you, I suggest you try I Contain Multitudes by Ed Yong. Yong examines the world of microbes and their critical importance for all life on earth, both large and small. Thoroughly readable, this study of all the microscopic beings that take up residence in and on our bodies will have you rethinking the concept of ever being truly alone.

 

asapscience.jpgLastly (because I have to stop this rambling at some point), for those who may “psshaw” their way through a discussion of scientific merit, take a peek within the pages of ASAP Science: answers to the world’s weirdest questions, most persistent rumors & unexplained phenomena by M. Moffit and G. Brown. With a title like that, I’m sure it needs further explanation. Based on the successful YouTube channel (AsapSCIENCE), this book covers important topics like if your eyeballs could really fly out of your head when you sneeze and why we tend to hate photos of ourselves, all while using science! It’s also filled with cartoony illustrations to help break up all those darn words. For an ever-so-slightly more sophisticated mash-up of science and graphics, you simply must get your hands on The Infographic Guide to Science by Tom Cabot which is pretty much a never ending picture playground for nerds. It’s chock-full of brightly coloured and immaculately designed infographics starting with the Big Bang and concluding with Artificial Intelligence which, if Hollywood has taught me anything, is truly where we will all meet our end.

I guarantee** if you get a few of these titles under your belt you’ll have ample fodder for your next cocktail party. Would you pick up a science nonfiction title the next time you pop into the library? Have a favourite title I missed? What should I read next? These are all engaging questions.

For Science!

Laura

*This may be both a gross oversimplification and exaggeration

**absolutely not a real guarantee

Love it and List it

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The human animal differs from the lesser primates in his passion for lists.  H. Allen Smith

As I’ve said a time or two million before, I love lists. Long, short, alphabetical, chronological, or numerical, pro or con, to do or already completed. If it’s a series of words or concepts written in a column I’m all over it. The saying at my house is “If it’s not on the list it doesn’t exist.” This doesn’t just apply to shopping, packing and chores, it’s an all-encompassing motto that we use on a daily basis, often several times a day.

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handmaid's tale

 

 

 

 

Is it any wonder that I work in a place that’s built around lists? After all, what’s the library catalogue but a list of all of the items at the library? Take something like The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. When you look up the title you’ll see a list of the print books, audio books, book club kits and critical essays. But the fun doesn’t stop there. You can place a hold on any or all of these items, adding them to your holds list. Or you can create a temporary list, so that you can come back to it after you’ve done some more searching. As if that wasn’t enough, you could also add the title to your list of items you want to read or place on hold at some time in the future. For a list lover, life doesn’t get any better than this.

 

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Sometimes it’s good to have a look at someone’s else list, too. When that moment arises, you can always turn to the WPL website. With a quick click on the search catalogue option, you can see what’s at the top of the Globe and Mail and McNally Robinson Bestseller lists. If you’re looking for award winners there are lists for that too, from the Governor General to the Prix littéraire, all connected to that handy list known as the library catalogue.

 

WPL info guidesJust when you thought you’d run out of library lists, we’ve come up with more! Info Guides are lists (there’s that lovely word again) of links created by library staff to library content and websites on all sorts of topics, from Adult Literacy to Science and Technology. The fun thing about the list of Info Guides is that you can search it or rearrange it according to your wishes – alphabetically, by popularity or by the most recent addition. LGBTTQ+ is one of the newest Info Guides in the collection, with a wide range of information, including recommended reads, local support groups and organizations, and online resources. All of the Info Guides are constantly being updated, so there are new things to check out all the time, and, dare I say, add to a list.

 

And, of course, for the truly dedicated list lovers out there, there are entire books dedicated to lists. Where to go, where not to go, best of, worst of, trivia, the selection is almost limitless. If you can think of it, odds are there’s a book out there somewhere listing it.

 

 

 

 

Lori

What’s New in the Local History Room?

It’s time to take a look at some of the recent arrivals in the Local History Room.

 

Cover image for Riel's defence : perspectives on his speeches

 

 

Though the great waves of unidentified flying objects sightings is behind us, the phenomenon still intrigues to this day. Fifty years ago this year, Winnipegger Stefan Michalak claimed to have had an encounter with a mysterious aircraft that left him seriously injured.  When They appeared: Falcon Lake, 1967, The Inside Story of a Close Encounter was written by his son Stan and UFO researcher Chris Rutkowski. It includes Stefan’s original account of the encounter and relates how him and his family dealt with the government investigation and the extensive media coverage that followed. The book reviews the evidence left at the site, includes copies of transcripts of interviews and reports made at the time by the RCMP and other agencies, as well as tell Stan’s personal experiences and how the incident shaped his youth.

 

Cover image for From the outside in : Jewish Post & News columns, 2015-2016

From the Outside in: Jewish Post & News Columns, 2015-2016 is a collection of columns written by Joanne Seiff for Winnipeg’s Jewish Post and News. These cover a wide range of topics of interest from raising children, social justice to the keeping of religious practices.  The author also includes anecdotes about her personal experiences, notably about moving to unfamiliar Winnipeg from the States and how they adapted.

 

Cover image for The Seven Oaks reader
On June 19th, 1816 an event occurred that had a pivotal impact on the history of what would become Manitoba (even if it has somewhat receded from our collective memory). This was the of Battle of Seven Oaks that broke out between rival hunting parties of the fur trade companies (the Hudson Bay and North West) that were vying for control of the territory.  The Seven Oaks Reader by Myrna Kostash offers a comprehensive retelling of the Fur Trade Wars. The book incorporates period accounts and journals, histories, memoirs, songs and fictional retellings, from a wide range of sources.

 

And to conclude, in The Forks, a Meeting Place Transformed by Sheila Grover you can learn about the early history of The Forks, the fur trade and railway eras, and the transformation from an industrial site into one of Winnipeg’s most popular gathering places. The book also includes a self-guided tour of the historic and contemporary buildings and landscapes. This is an ideal title to learn about how much the Forks have changed, especially in the last decades.

 
Come to the Local History Room and check it out!
 
– Louis-Philippe

Winter is Coming…in July

 

To quote a common utterance in Game of Thrones, “winter is coming”, and from the looks of things, it won’t disappoint. Though many of you, like me, loves to sit on a warm beach, dip your toes in the sand or go swim in one of our many lovely lakes in Manitoba, I will also be glued to my TV screen on Sunday evenings ready to find out what happens to my favourite characters on HBO’s Game of Thrones Season 7. Based on George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, HBO’s Game of Thrones (GOT) has taken the world by storm. It has raised the bar for production value, being the most expensive series on television, and boasting epic twists and surprises that even the fans of the novels didn’t see coming. Though avid readers are waiting for Martin to finish the next book in the series, those who are also fans of the show have been fortunate to catch a glimpse past Martin’s published novels and see what may be in store through the TV series. As the next season airs, here are some read-alikes to whet your appetite of all things GOT and fantasy.

 

 A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin

GOT

If you are a fan of the series, but haven’t read the books, or are wanting to start both the books and the TV series, sink your teeth into the tomes that Martin has written. Be prepared to devote time to these novels as each one clocks in at around 1,000 pages, but be sure to have a pen and paper on hand to keep track of whom is related to whom and how they fit into the grand scheme of things (it can get complicated!). Martin does a fantastic job of world-building and has created such wonderful and unique characters we can love and hate or love to hate. Hopefully, once you are done he will have released his next book in the series and we can all find out what happens next.

 

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

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A classic and game-changer in the fantasy genre, Tolkien’s masterful work contains intricate and vastly thought-out world-building (there are many other books compiled of his writing detailing the mythology and history of Middle-earth), that one would believe this place actually exists (and maybe it does in New Zealand!). This series is one of my personal favourites which I have re-read many times and continuously find something new to love and appreciate. If you’ve already read the series and enjoyed it, try The Silmarillion, it can be daunting but worth it in terms of learning more about the history of Middle-earth, how Sauron came to be and about the first dark lord Morgoth. When you’re finished reading, check out Peter Jackson’s Award Winning adaptation of the books (try and check out the extended edition, worth the almost 4 hour run-time).

 

Half a King by Joe Abercrombie

This coming-of-age novel and first book in the series features a young protagonist who is forced to take the throne after his father and brother are murdered. Set in a Viking-like world, Yarvi is heir to the throne but loses it when his father is killed and must embark on a journey to win it back. This novel is also excellent for the young adult reader.

 

Red Rising trilogy by Pierce Brown

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Set in a futuristic society where Mars is colonized and all “people” are divided into colours and thus assigned their fate in life. “Red” miner (the lowest colour in the society) Darrow is tasked by the group Sons of Ares to infiltrate the “Golds” (the highest in the society) and cause a rebellion which could change the way of life for all and end the enslavement of the Reds. Though some might argue the series is more science-fiction than fantasy, there is world-building and characters are cultivated and explored, especially as the trilogy moves along, and there is much mythological inspiration. Brown’s series has the protagonist maneuver his way from lowly Red to transforming into a Gold. He must form alliances and betray those he considers friends all to help free his people from the slavery and cruel punishments they receive from those higher up. For those who liked The Hunger Games and Ender’s Game, this one is perfect for you too!

 

Queen of the Tearling trilogy by Erika Johansen

queentearling

If you are searching for a strong female character, look no further than Kelsea, a young woman who discovers that she is the heir to the Tearling throne though she has been raised away from the city and the palace. She must learn to rule in fairness and firmness, and contend with those around her who would use her to claim the throne for themselves. She must also deal with the powerful Red Queen who requires Tearling people in payment to her every year to maintain the peace, and discover the powers that she herself possesses. For fans of Daenerys Targaryen, read this series and be swept away.

 

nevernight

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

The first book in this new series where a young girl who witnesses her father’s execution and becomes an assassin is sure to please GOT fans (Arya Stark anyone?). This fast-paced read features a strong female character, political intrigue, humour, violence and wonderful world-building and will leave the reader hungry for the next book to come.

 

So get out and enjoy summer and the warm weather even if it is just in your backyard or on your balcony, because as we Winnipeggers know, winter is coming (though hopefully not for another few months).

 

-Aileen

Calling All Teens!

Summer is in full swing, and if you’ve got teenagers at home, they’re likely taking full advantage of their new found freedom.  Sleeping in, watching movies, hanging out with friends, and soaking up the sun!  Inevitably though, that wonderful sense of freedom quickly turns to boredom, and those same teenagers start looking for something to keep them busy.  A new challenge.  Something to inspire them.

Well, the library may just be the answer!  Our online Teen Summer Reading Club is a great way for teens to explore their creativity, with contests for writers, artists, photographers and book lovers.  Club membership is open to all teens in Grades 7 though 12, and in order to register, teens simply need to create an account on our teen website, Booked!  From there, members can post their creative work to our website, for all to enjoy, and at the end of the summer, the best of the best in each contest category will win an awesome prize!

If teens are looking for something to do with a few friends, the library also has a ton of really cool programs!  Like Scratch Programming!  Teens will learn the basics of the popular programming language Scratch, and spend the day creating, collaborating, and discovering endless possibilities while designing a video game or animated story.  Or our Words Out Loud program!  Teens will join local slam legend Steve Locke to explore tools of communication and creativity by writing new poems and practicing sharing them in their own unique, authentic voice.

And of course, as always, the library has an amazing collection of books for teens to explore.  Summer is the perfect opportunity for kicking back with a good book — no grueling book report required!  Check out these amazing books for some chill poolside reading!

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
Avoiding relationships to protect her sensitive heart, plus-sized Molly supports her once-cynical twin, Cassie, when the latter has her own bout of lovesickness, a situation that is complicated by sibling dynamics and an unexpected romantic triangle.

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh
The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place. She may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her twin brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands.

Children of Eden by Joey Graceffa
In a future defined by environmental devastation and the all-seeing EcoPanopticon, Rowan, an illegal second child, rebels against an impossible choice by escaping her home for a night of both friendship and tragedy.

Geekerella by Ashley Poston
Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win–unless her stepsisters get there first… Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake–until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.

Lindsay

 

 

 

So What’s New?

Well, we’ve got a list for that. Savvy library users know that finding the Library’s latest purchases is just a click away.  Head on over to the main page of our catalogue and visit the “New Titles” page where you will find our purchases from the previous 3 months – all ages and physical formats.  Scrolling through these lists is great fun and helps give an idea of the wide range of materials collected by the Library.

For example, in June 450 titles were added to our non-fiction collection for adults.  Here’s a sampling. Enjoy!

Beyond Trans : Does Gender Matter?
by Heath Fogg Davis

City on Edge: A Rebellious Century of Vancouver Protests, Riots, and Strikes
by Kate Bird


Billionaire at the Barricades: The Populist Revolution from Reagan to Trump
by Laura  Ingraham

Killer: My Life in Hockey
by Doug Gilmour

Lou Reed : A Life
by Anthony DeCurtis

Powerful Readers: Thinking Strategies to Guide Literacy Instruction in Secondary Classrooms
by Kyla Hadden and Adrienne Gear

Prairie Rising: Indigenous Youth, Decolonization, and the Politics of Intervention
by Jaskiran K. Dhillon

-Monique