Author Archives: winnipegpublibrary

Heroes, super and otherwise

Action_Comics_1Seventy-six years ago, on April 18, 1938, Superman (created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster) made his debut in Action Comics #1, usually considered the first true superhero comic book. In the decades since, the superhero remained a staple in pop culture. Long before the recent stream of wildly popular Batman and Marvel Universe movies, super-powered people saving the day were everywhere, in every media. And once the archetype became a cliché, of course, creators were eager to subvert it.

Alan Moore started it all with Watchmen. Revolutionary in its time, this behemoth of a series was a deliberate attempt to tear the gilding off superheroic figures and show what having vast power with no oversight might actually do to people and to the society that came to depend on them.

Later, Gotham Central (the inspiration behind a new TV series?) looked at the superhero world from the vantage point of everyday citizens – specifically, the cops whose job it is to clean up after Batman’s battles, or try to catch supervillains like Two Face on their own.

machinaOne of my favourite twists on the superhero myth is Ex Machina, a satisfying read for fans of both comics and backroom politics. After a minor-league vigilante known as the Great Machine performs a high-profile act of heroism, he exploits his new fame to win the race for mayor of New York. The series follows his administration’s political ups and downs, complicated by the return of past enemies. It’s like The West Wing, if President Bartlett had had superpowers.

Superman, of course, fast became an iconic American figure. He’s so closely associated with the USA — from his origin story of a Kansas crash landing to fighting for “truth, justice, and the American way” — that it’s almost impossible to picture him anywhere else. In Red Son, however, Mark Millar did just that – imagining what could have happened if Superman had landed on a Ukrainian collective farm.

mosaicDespite the American emphasis, there have always been Canadian superheroes, from Captain Canuck to Northstar. The book Guardians of the North fleshes out the background to an online exhibit of Canadian superhero art created by Library and Archives Canada. The brand new anthology Masked Mosaic collects short stories of masked vigilantes, superpowered antiheroes, and super scientists written by Canadian authors. And in an exciting development, a new Cree heroine from northern Ontario is joining Justice League Canada, as created by Canadian Jeff Lemire.

As anyone who reads comics knows, superheroes never die. They just take on new forms, re-imagined and re-envisioned to fit each new era.


Missing in More Ways Than One

As I write this (on February 27), I’ve just finished catching up with the news of Inuk woman Loretta Saunders’ body having been found on the edge of a New Brunswick highway.  The death of this young woman pushes the number of missing or murdered Indigenous women in Canada – researched to be over 800 – one life higher.

The “over 800” figure comes from the recently reported on PhD thesis by Maryanne Pearce.  As part of her research, Pearce compiled a list of women who have gone missing or been confirmed murdered in Canada over the past several decades. 824 Indigenous women were named on the list.  The number from Manitoba?  111.

You can download the complete research An Awkward Silence:  Missing and Murdered Vulnerable Women and the Canadian Justice System, including Pearce’s list, here. (At over 1100 pages, downloading may take a while.)

Pearce’s research updates the findings of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) who, through their Sisters in Spirit initiative, had also created an extensive list of missing and murdered Indigenous women.  NWAC’s research, which is current to 2010, is a valuable tool for learning more about this issue and the particular effects it has on different provinces.  The Manitoba Fact Sheet that was produced provides a clear snapshot of the demographic specifics of the women who were living in Manitoba.

There are many reasons cited for why the number of Indigenous women who are affected by violence of this kind is so disproportionately high.  They range from the realities associated with (often) having a lower socio-economic status – such as inadequate housing options, lower levels of formal education, a lack of community-based resources and so on – to the broader characterization of systemic racism.  One theme is common, though, no matter how a person may analyze the situation:  in many ways these women and their stories were “missing” from so-called mainstream society long before they were taken from their families and friends.

dawnAs a librarian, I am always encouraging people to read, learn and tell new stories – or uncover ones that may have been overlooked. The best place to go for once-hidden stories is directly to the source and so we are happy to be screening the documentary Finding Dawn on March 29.  Directed by acclaimed Métis filmmaker Christine Welsh, this documentary puts a human face to many of the Indigenous women who make up the greater story described above.


Walking With Our Sisters installation at First Nations University of Canada, Regina. [Source:]

We are screening Finding Dawn to complement a powerful installation project that will be in Winnipeg at the same time.  Walking With Our Sisters is “a commemorative art installation for the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women of Canada and the USA.”  Initiated by Métis artist Christi Belcourt, the installation features over 1700 pairs of moccasin “vamps” beaded and sent in from across Canada, the United States and even from overseas.  Belcourt had put out an initial call for 600 pairs (the estimated number, at the time, of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada) but received an overwhelming response.  You can view these intricate and thoughtful tributes – and learn about the many “missing” stories they share – at the Urban Shaman Gallery from March 21 to April 12.


New language-learning features from Mango!

There have been some exciting new changes made to our Mango Languages service for 2014!

The first is a change to the dashboard interface, moving from their old “antique paper” look & feel to a new, sleeker dashboard called “Mango Connect.” When you launch Mango, you will now see a message asking if you want to use the new dashboard or stick with the old one. The old interface will remain accessible until June of this year, but after that the Mango Connect interface will become the default.   


New Languages: Mango announced the addition of 14 new language courses to their complete subscription: Armenian, Azerbaijani, Hungarian, Kazakh, Serbian, Yiddish, Bengali, Malay, Malayalam, Punjabi, Telugu, Scottish Gaelic, ESL Arabic MSA and ESL Armenian. These courses are also available in the Mango Languages for Libraries app for iPad/iPhone once users upgrade to version 1.3.0, released January 28, 2014. The new languages do not seem to be listed in the Mango app for Android, but may become available in a future app update. 


Introducing Mango Premiere – Language Learning Through Films: One of the new features introduced with the Mango Connect dashboard is the new Mango Premiere service . This service is integrated with our existing Mango product and can currently be accessed through our Search a Database page.

Mango Premiere takes films in several languages and builds a language-learning system around the dialog of those films. You can either watch the film straight through with two sets of colour-coded subtitles on the screen, or use the intensive “engage-mode” to break the film down into scenes and delve into the sentence structure, grammar, culture of those scenes and more.

For more details, there’s a brief tutorial/trailer explaining the service:

Try Mango Premiere without creating a Mango account: For a limited time, Mango is making Kung Fu Dunk, one of its Mango Premiere titles, available immediately without an account for trial purposes. Go to to take a test run of this service.

If you’d like to try a movie in another language, log in to Mango from the Search a Database page, create an account if you haven’t made one before (you can also log in as a guest if you’re short of time)  and click on the Learn tab and look for the “Apps” link in the middle of the page. The Mango Premiere courses appear at the bottom of the “Apps” screen. We currently have ten Mango Premiere courses available covering five languages – Spanish (Latin America), Italian, Chinese (Mandarin), Japanese and English for Spanish speakers. There are more films/languages listed on the Mango Premiere promotional site, but licensing restrictions in Canada mean that we currently only have access to a limited set.

మీరు ఆనందించండి ఆశిస్తున్నాము!
(That’s “we hope you enjoy”) in Telugu. :)


Explore More: The Secret Annex

Last night, local playwright Alix Sobler‘s The Secret Annex had its world premiere on the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre’s Warehouse stage. secret annexAnne Frank has survived the war, and at age 25, she’s ready to start a new chapter in New York City. Eager to publish a memoir of her time in hiding, Anne is sure it will launch her career as a writer. But when the only interested publisher demands drastic rewrites, Anne questions the meaning of her new life. Why did she survive, if not to share stories? In her compelling and provocative play, Manitoba playwright Alix Sobler asks: can the past be rewritten? Explore more “behind the scenes” of the production with these recommended reads…

Explore What Might Have Been

Anne Frank’s open and vibrant personality, as expressed in her own words, has captivated millions of people. It’s hardly surprising that writers other than Sobler have also wanted to depict her life and how it could have been different, if just a few details had changed. Here are a few of the possibilities they’ve imagined. margotMargot, Jillian Cantor. It’s 1959 and “Margie Franklin” has a secret: she is really Margot Frank, Anne’s older sister, who did not die in Bergen-Belsen as reported but escaped to America. As her sister becomes a global icon, Margie’s carefully constructed post-war life begins to fall apart as she copes with grief and survivor’s guilt. The Ghost Writer, Philip Roth. A young woman writer tells her literary mentor she is Anne Frank. Is she trying to impress him? Is she mentally disturbed? Regardless, Roth’s protagonist invents for himself a convincing tale of how Anne might have survived and adopted a new identity. “The Eighth Grade History Class Visits the Hebrew Home for the Aging” , Harry Turtledove. “She’d wanted to be the best writer in the world…” Award-winning science fiction author Turtledove is well-known for his alternate histories. In this online story (first published January 2014), he introduces us to a strangely familiar old woman. Explore the Ethics of Historical Fiction Some of the works above have come under harsh criticism by readers and reviewers for altering the facts we know of Anne’s life and death. What do you think – does doing so trivialize the Holocaust or exploit Anne’s memory? “Are novelists entitled to use real-life characters?”, Guy Gavriel Kay Canadian novelist Kay explains his refusal to write in the voices of real people (whether living or dead) as a matter of privacy in this essay from the Guardian. historyNovel History, Mark Carnes (ed). Can fiction ever reflect the past with accuracy? Twenty historians consider the question as applied to several classic novels; most of the essays are followed by a response from the novelist. The dialogues illuminate one of the most fascinating literary issues of our time – the relation between the “real” past and our portrayal of it. Explore Other Children’s Stories bergThe Diary of Mary Berg. Her real name was Miriam Wattenberg, and her story of life in the Warsaw ghetto was one of the very few eye-witness accounts published in the English-speaking world before the end of the war. Unlike Anne, she survived to see it. ginzThe Diary of Petr Ginz. In 1941, Petr Ginz was an adventurous, artistic teenager living in Prague who painted and wrote poetry and novels. His diaries describe daily family life and document the introduction of anti-Jewish laws from a young adult’s point of view. Tell No One Who You Are, Walter Buchignani. Anne’s family stayed together, but many other Jewish children were separated from their families to be protected. At the age of ten Régine Miller, completely alone and shuttled from hiding place to hiding place, heard that her mother and brother had been taken by the SS. Only the hope that her father might return sustained her. Explore the Impact of the Diary Anne Frank Remembered, Miep Gies. Written by the woman who helped to shelter Anne’s family for more than two years, and who was responsible for preserving the famous diary and other papers. A vivid tale of Dutch life under German occupation, including the “Hunger Winter.” afterlifeAnne Frank: The Book, the Life, the Afterlife, Francine Prose. Prose analyzes the diary as a piece of literature rather than as history and makes the case for it being a deliberate work of art from a precociously gifted writer. schlossAfter Auschwitz, Eva Schloss. After the war, Eva’s mother married Anne’s father, and so she grew up with one of the most famous girls in the world as a kind of ghostly stepsister. Her autobiography is honest about the toll that ensuring Anne’s legacy was never forgotten took on the entire family. Danielle

My Favourite (Canadian) Banning Attempts from 2012

FTR buttonBanning books isn’t something we have to worry about here. It’s something from days past, or in distant countries, right? Wrong, I’m afraid.

The fact is that in 2012 alone there were 73 documented attempts to remove movies and books from publicly-funded Canadian libraries.

(Which means 73 attempts that happened to be reported to the Canadian Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Advisory Committee. As reporting is completely voluntary, the committee believes these incidents “represent only a small fraction of all challenges”.)

For the first time ever, more challenges involved movies than books. Most of the libraries reporting these challenges were able to keep the items on their shelves, thanks to existing processes to deal with these issues. But, if they hadn’t been, the complaints of a few (sometimes just one person) would result in these movies and books made unavailable to others who might want them.

The committee does a great job of making available to the public the details of these challenges, including why they were challenged, and why they were (or weren’t) kept in the library.

After reading the list, here are some of my favourite attempted bans:


Amazing You! Getting Smart About Your Private Parts by Dr. Gail Saltz.   Reason: Age inappropriate

i love

I Love You Phillip Morris (DVD). Challenged 3 times. Reasons: Homosexuality, sexually explicit, age inappropriate


Teenage Dream by Katy Perry (CD) Reasons: Age inappropriate, sexually explicit

that touch

That Touch of Mink (DVD) starring Cary Grant and Doris Day. Reason: Sexism, violence


Coraline (DVD) based on the book by Neil Gaiman. Reasons: Age inappropriate.

Here are some from 2011:


All graphic novels (Policy of providing graphic novels in libraries). Reasons: Sexually explicit, violence.


Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (DVD). Reasons: Violence, age inappropriate.


The Remarkable Maria by Patti McIntosh. Reasons: Inaccurate depiction of ethnicity. Removed from school library shelves.

Meanwhile, an anti-censorship organization in the United States called the The Kids’ Right to Read Project (KRRP) reported a 53% increase in the number of books being challenged or banned in the country’s schools. Many of these were concerns brought up by parents of students or library patrons, but some were from local or state government officials.

Again, in many cases, procedures in place  to deal with these challenges (and organizations such as KRRP) meant that items were kept, or if they’d been removed from shelves and reading lists, were eventually put back. So, happily, along with the increase in attempted bans, there has also been an increase in books being returned to the shelves (especially after KRRP got involved).

And again, my favourites:


The most challenged was The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. It was challenged in Montana, New York, New Jersey and West Virginia.

anneThe diary of Anne Frank (often challenged worldwide) was unsuccessfully targeted for banning in schools in Northville, Michigan “after a parent complained that passages detailing Anne’s descriptions of her own body were ‘pornographic’”.


Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman was taken off shelves at schools in Alamogordo, New Mexico, also because of a single complaint. Eventually the school board was persuaded to return it.

Gaiman’s commented:

I’m just glad that organisations like the Kids’ Right to Read Project exist, and that so many of these challenges have successful outcomes – it’s obvious that without them, the people who do not want their children, or other people’s, exposed to ideas, would be much more successful at making books vanish from the shelves.

Freedom to Read Week

All this is why we are holding two events to mark an annual initiative called Freedom to Read Week.

This week is a chance to voice opposition to “all efforts to suppress writing and silence writers” and to celebrate free access to the written word, as guaranteed to Canadians under our Charter of Rights and Freedoms:  “Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms . . . thought, belief, opinion, and expression.”

marathonWestwood Library is hosting a Freedom to Read Marathon, where the public is invited to read aloud from those challenged books that mean something to them.


Here at Millennium, our event is taking the form of a Freedom of Expression Day. There will be talks on different ways this freedom has been challenged, readings from our favourite banned and challenged books, and a table of these *forbidden* books to browse and borrow.

We hope very much that you will get come down and get involved, or just show your support for free access to the books and movies of your choice!

And tell us, what is YOUR favourite challenged book or movie?

- Erica

2013′s Winnipeg Books About Winnipeg

Winnipeg is known as a cultural capital – we have a great arts scene, including a solid literary core.  While the pursuits of fiction writers in Winnipeg have been looked at before, I am going to take a look at the great non-fiction books that were put out in 2013 about Winnipeg by Winnipeggers.

What I have always enjoyed about Winnipeg is that we’re good at taking a long, hard look at ourselves.  It might not always be pleasant and it might not always make us look good.  It might uncover major issues going on in the city.  But it makes our city better.

One of the best books I read about Winnipeg in 2013 was “Indians wear Red”: colonialism, resistance, and aboriginal street gangs  by Elizabeth Cormack, Jim Sliver, Larry Morrissette, and Lawrence Deane.  It is a critical look at the gang culture in Winnipeg, but it looks at it in a way not to vilify the gang members but to contextualize the life they live in.  It looks at effects that colonialism, neo-liberalism and economics have had on the proliferation of gangs. (Side note: I would recommend the other books by both Elizabeth Cormack and Jim Silver, too). It is essential that we take a hard look at these issues instead of sweeping them under the rug, acting like they do not exist or hoping they take care of themselves.

One member of the Winnipeg family that exposed Winnipeggers to issues in their city, even if they didn’t want to look, was Nick Ternette.  Sadly, Nick died in 2013 but what came out of that was a great autobiography that he finished before he died.  It is called Rebel Without a Pause and outlines Nick’s fights to get the issues of the poor and the disabled into the mainstream Winnipeg thought and his constant fight to make Winnipeg a better city.

wolseley storiesAnother great story put out this year about Winnipeg by a Winnipegger was Wolseley Stories by Laina Hughes.  Unlike the other books, it doesn’t provide a critique of Winnipeg, but instead looks at the history of Wolseley and the stories of the people who live in it.  Hughes said she wanted to write the book to get to know the people who lived in her house 100 years ago.

I think this is the best way to learn the history of the area you live in is to find out the history of your house or the street you live on (note: This doesn’t work if you live in a new development).  I used the Winnipeg Free Press archive, available in every library, to search my house.  Warning: don’t do this if you’re not ready for the consequences.  I found out that a previous owner of my house died in the house – luckily of natural causes.

In 2014, why not make it a resolution to read Winnipeg books by Winnipeggers in Winnipeg – there are sure to be more great titles on the way!


January is (unofficial) Jane Eyre month

And we’re back! Across the city, winter programming for adults and kids is getting under way. (I can’t pass up the chance to specifically mention our Skywalk series of talks and concerts, our free Folk Fest concerts, and our variety of movie screenings).

Here at Millennium, this means the return of our popular From Page to Stage series with the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre. This series offers casual talks about the process of turning a book into a play.  They are currently mounting an adaptation of the beloved classic Jane Eyre and we thought we’d have some talks about that!

**Important note: it was necessary to switch the dates for these programs after the newsletter went to print, so the details in the newsletter are no longer accurate.

Jane Eyre

Tuesday, January 21, 12:10 pm: Vanessa Warne (Associate Professor and Graduate Chair in the Department of English, Film and Theatre at the University of Manitoba) will discuss the novel and what may explain it’s continuing popularity.

Tuesday, January 28, 12:10 pm: The two leads in RMTC’s new production, Jennifer Dzialoszynski (Jane Eyre) and Tim Campbell (Edward Rochester), will discuss playing the classic romantic couple.

Tim Campbell and Jennifer Dzialoszynski in MTC's Jane Eyre. Photo by Bruce Monk

Tim Campbell and Jennifer Dzialoszynski in MTC’s Jane Eyre. Photo by Bruce Monk

In excitement and anticipation of all this, and because this is what we do, we put together a list of related books (and movies) that you might enjoy. Some are inspired by the Jane Eyre story, some are inspired by the author of Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë, and her remarkable novelist sisters, and some offer a little more information about the life and times of both the fictional, and the very real, characters.

Explore more of the Jane Eyre story

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
The remarkable, dark, and compelling story of Antoinette Cosway, Creole heiress from the West Indies, who becomes the first Mrs. Edward Rochestor and brings ruin to Thornfield Hall.

FlightThe Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesay
An intelligent and passionate orphan triumphs over misfortune and a largely uncaring world. Gemma Hardy is Jane Eyre set in Scotland and the Orkney Islands in the 1950s and 60s, with more than enough originality to make the familiar story new again.

Jane Eyre (1944 film adaptation)
With Aldous Huxley collaborating on the screenplay, and Orson Welles influencing the script and the filming (and starring as Rochester), this dark and moody adaptation is still thought of as one of the best.

Jane Eyre (2011 film adaptation)
Cary Fukunaga directs a popular and lauded adaptation, with Michael Fassbender as Edward Rochester and Mia Wasikowska as what some consider the best Jane yet.

Explore the Brontës – fiction inspired by Charlotte and her sisters

BecomingBecoming Jane Eyre by Sheila Kohler
A vision of what life could have been like in the secluded Brontë home, from the thoughts of the Brontë patriarch to the family nurse, from boarding school deaths to the genesis of the Jane Eyre character, and the interrelationship between life and fiction.

The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë by Syrie James
This fictional diary turns Charlotte into a romantic protagonist in her own right. The setting is the moody moors of Yorkshire. Charlotte and her sisters are desperately trying to handle their peculiar father, who is slowly losing his eyesight, and a brother with a drug problem. The plot thickens with the introduction of Arthur Nicholls, a mysterious, and intriguing, new neighbor.

Explore the Brontës – what we really know about them

LifeThe Life of Charlotte Brontë Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
The official biography of Charlotte by a fellow female Victorian novelist, who also happened to be her friend, and so had access to personal letters, interviews, and her own observations.

The Brontë Myth by Lucasta Miller
The Brontës have inspired more works (biographies, plays, movies, and novels) than they themselves produced, and have reached what could be argued is cult status. This work tracks the different ways they have been and continue to be portrayed and analyzed, whether romantic, feminist, Marxist, or postfeminist.

VictorianThe Victorian House: Domestic Life from Childbirth to Deathbed by Judith Flanders
Running water, stoves, flush toilets – even toilet paper – arrived slowly throughout the century, and only to the prosperous. See the not-too-charming manual labour behind the outward elegance, with a room by room tour of everyday life in a Victorian home; From childbirth in the master bedroom, through the scullery, kitchen, and dining room (cleaning, dining and entertaining) and upwards, ending in the sickroom and death.

And on that cheerful note – hope you find something you enjoy!

A leap of faith rewarded

Below, author Anne Mahon talks about why she wrote The Lucky Ones and how doing so affected her life and others’. For your chance to meet Anne and some of the people whose stories are included in the book or to take part in other events during January & February, see this list of On The Same Page events.


Anne Mahon“Our lives make no sense if we are not helping others.” I first heard these inspiring words while interviewing refugee Muuxi Adam in 2007. When I heard them, something inside me noticeably shifted. I could feel their importance physically–like my cells instinctively understood something at a deeper level than my mind could make sense of–and I knew then that writing this book and listening to refugees’ stories would be a pivotal experience.

Seven years later, Great Plains Publications published my first book The Lucky Ones: African Refugees’ Stories of Extraordinary Courage. In May 2013, it was launched with 250 supporters and great celebration at McNally Robinson Booksellers. In September, the book was chosen for the 2013-14 On The Same Page program, sponsored by the Winnipeg Library and The Winnipeg Foundation.

The Lucky Ones is a collection of 17 powerful stories of refugees’ personal experiences in Africa, as well as in Canada. The book creates a mosaic of stories of tragedy and loss, as well as human triumph, told with matter-of-fact dignity that has elicited compassion from readers. Themes include gratitude, survival, the life-changing importance of education and the need to be valued. The three goals of the book are to increase awareness and understanding of the challenges of refugees; honor refugees and their place in Canadian society; and philanthropically raise funds for two Winnipeg charities that assist newcomers.

My life has changed meaningfully since beginning the book. Before, I knew only one refugee. Now, not only have I come to know the courageous subjects, but the book has also been an introduction to new associations with a greater community that cares passionately for and about refugees. When I began work on the book, I also started volunteering in adult English classes at Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba (IRCOM). It’s now my 7th year in the classroom, and I continue to be energized and my life enriched by the connections I make while helping students there.

Muuxi, the man I referred to in the introduction, has founded Humankind International, a charity committed to building an early years school in Dadaab the world’s largest refugee camp in Kenya. He asked a number of us to be founding board members three years ago. After considerable commitment, the school will open later this month.

The subjects’ repeated gratitude for peace and acceptance in Canada has made me a prouder Canadian, more grateful for the many things I take for granted, and grounded me during my daily challenges.

By taking a leap of faith to write this book, my life has been invigorated and transformed. Ten years ago, just as knowing refugees was not a common part of my life, neither was writing. After completing The Lucky Ones, I missed the creative process of writing so much that I am currently researching my second book. I have a newfound belief, best explained by a quote from The Lucky Ones: “The resilience of the subjects in this book, as well as this book’s creation, have taught me this: we should never limit our expectations to the boundaries of what we already know.”

- Anne Mahon

We’re Serving up “Just Desserts” at Charleswood Library

“Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.” – Ernestine Ulmer

That is our motto here at the Just Desserts Cookbook Club at Charleswood Library.  People in the club choose from a variety of cookbooks based on the theme for the month, make a few of the recipes and take pictures of their creations.  At our monthly meetings (which occur the second Tuesday of each month @ 6:30pm), we talk about the cookbooks and share some of our goodies that we make.    We have covered cupcakes and holiday baking so far.  In January we will be baking bars & squares and February’s theme is chocolate (yum).

The members of the club are very enthusiastic about baking.  They range in abilities – from the novice baker to the professionally trained.  Each month is a chance for us to share our experiences not only about the current theme, but about baking in general.  We have covered a wide range of topics from the types of ovens we use to how we arrange the recipes we always come back to.  Some members like to experiment with recipes, others follow the recipe precisely.  So getting together each month is an opportunity for us to share a common love – baking.

The one thing that all our members agree on is the fact that cookbooks should have pictures – lots of them.  We all like the idea of being able to see what we’re striving to achieve.  The books I have included here have been recommended by our members for this fact.  I also included some pictures of their creations from the past couple of months.

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Betty Crocker Christmas Cookbook
Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes
Better Homes and Gardens Cupcakes

So, if you love to bake or just want to try some new recipes, why not call the Charleswood Library and sign up for the Just Desserts Cookbook Club?  We would love for you to join us!

“Just Desserts” Cookbook Club
Meets at 6:30 p.m., Charleswood Library
• Jan. 14 – Bars and Squares
• Feb. 11 – Chocolate!
Call 204-986-3072 to register.


Books-to-Movies: activities for the whole family

Imagine creating your own movie set design, costumes, and soundtracks based on your favorite children’s books! It can be done simply by tapping the energy and creativity of your own family. The holiday season is a great time to share some extra time with your family, and what better way to spend that time, than by reading and discussing a delightful book together.

Wizard of OzNot long ago I was at the movies with my husband, who is very generous in that he doesn’t mind accompanying me to watch films based on children’s books.  Of course, I can hardly say no when he asks me to return the favour when he wants to catch the newest action flick. While waiting for the main event to begin, we dutifully watched the numerous trailers advertising the soon to be released films; I thought to myself that someone in Hollywood must have a library card. Almost all of the trailers that were shown had a tie-in to a children’s or young adult book. Impressed as I am that children’s literature is making it to the big screen, I do realize that this is not a new concept. I myself grew up watching movies based on children’s literature such as Mary Poppins, and The Wizard of Oz, along with the occasional Disney feature based on fairy tales. I was mesmerized by these productions in their full colour splendor, and definitely aware that these spectacular visions came from the pages of a book.

Today, the release of a new film occurs much more often than in the 60’s (now I’ve dated myself). Excitement over a new release is escalated as all of the kids seem to know which book is going to become a movie. I have found that the children who participate in our library programs that are based on popular titles know the books inside and out. They know every detail about each of the characters, they can quote key speeches from the text, and they can answer all of the questions in the trivia games. Most of these children have a vision as to what they will expect from the film that was created based on their favorite books. And sometimes they are disappointed, as their vision is different from that of the director and the resulting program.

MED0001103But you can change all of that by gathering your family to read a story together. Continue the benefits of this family time to discuss the book; whether or not you liked all of the characters, would you have come to the same conclusion, in the same way? Also take the time to imagine possible sets, costuming and background noise. Bring out some paper and coloured pencils or crayons and draw out some of your brilliant ideas.

Family Reading TogetherWhat are the benefits of this activity? Well, besides the valuable time that you are spending together with your family, everybody gets a chance to use their imaginations, to develop and express opinions, to learn new vocabulary, and to get creative. To help in developing reading skills, everyone can take a turn in reading the book with respect to reading levels. Reading together is also a great idea for reluctant readers as they will learn about and enjoy the magic of books in a comforting environment. This is a family activity that everyone can share in.

Family Watching Television TogetherAs a treat, make a point of borrowing a copy of the movie version of the book that you have shared from your local library branch. Make it a special evening, call it family film night, have some pizza or home-popped popcorn, or whatever works for you. You can continue the conversation by comparing the movie to your own conversations and drawings.

Here are some great ideas to get you imaginations going. These books and movies are both fun to read and fun to watch; some are classics, and some are contemporary titles. Enjoy!

The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
The Invention of Hugo Cabret: a novel in words and pictures by Brian Selznick
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (all of them)
Percy Jackson and the Olympians: the Lightning Thief & Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine


Tamara Heads the Children’s and Teen Section at Millennium Library.