Author Archives: winnipegpublibrary

Tips for being knotty

If I mention crochet and images of garishly colored granny squares straight out of That 70’s Show come to mind, then you might be thinking that it is outdated and boring.

Knotty tip #1: Crochet is not for Grannies anymore.

Last summer, we were heading out on a long road trip to the Georgian Bay to visit friends and I needed a project that would fill the hours. Browsing through the knitting and crochet books at the library (746.434), I discovered the coolest crochet book ever!

The Edward’s Crochet series of books are written and created by Kerry Lord who founded Toft, a British company specializing in alpaca wool in natural colors. Her 3rd book in the series, Edward’s Crochet Imaginarium is a brilliant, imaginative, spiral bound flip book that allows the crocheter to create monsters. Its pages are split into three sections, one for the head, one for the arms and one for the legs. Children, and let’s face it… adults too, are invited to mix and match the body parts to create a monster of their very own. The patterns are simple using the single crochet stitch throughout and there is a guide for interesting color patterns so your monsters can be striped, rainbow or look like they are wearing clothes. There is even a technique to create fur so your monster can be fluffy or have hair. The possibilities are endless!


Knotty Tip #2: You will quickly become obsessed so stock up on wool before borrowing the book.

As we were driving, and driving, and driving, I was busy trying to make my first monster. To my intense frustration, my monster just wasn’t turning out right. The pattern called for the DC or double crochet stitch, which is a common stitch and one I’ve done many times. It wasn’t until we were well past Thunder Bay that I noticed the fine print: this book uses British terminology. Who knew the Brits’ Double Crochet is actually a Single Crochet stitch?

Knotty tip #3: Double check which terminology the book is using!

Now that I know what I am doing, I cannot overstate how fun this book is. Anything that inspires you can be created out of a few simple pieces. To get an idea, follow the #edsflipbook, #edsanimals or #toft hashtags on social media to see some of the combinations people have come up with. I have a few examples of my own:

If monsters aren’t your thing, Toft has lots of other options. Winnipeg Public Library carries most of Kerry Lord’s books. Once you’ve learned the techniques from one, they are all fairly easy to create. If you know how to crochet in the round, you’re set! If you don’t, there is an easy method, found in the back pages, that explains how to thread a different colored piece of yarn through your rows to keep count of where you are.

For barnyard and zoo animals, try Edward’s Menagerie.


For birds of all feathers, try Edward’s Menagerie: Birds, which is also available in French.


If you want to make people, use the Doll Emporium. It has a standard form for the body and an easy or more challenging pattern for the arms. This book includes all types of clothes and costumes so if you are crocheting for a child, be prepared to make a whole wardrobe for their little mini-me.


 Knotty tip #4: The Doll Emporium uses a variety of stitches for the clothing, so attempt a project from an easier book if you are a beginner.

Lastly, if you have a puppy in your life, you will love Edward’s Menagerie: DOGS! This title is chock full of patterns for all different types of pure bred dogs. If your pooch is a mixed breed, it also has tips on how to personalize your creation to match your pet.


I have now started on my dog pound…


Knotty tip #5: Dogs uses the loop stitch in most of the projects. Not the easiest stitch to master, but well worth the time to learn for the cuteness it provides.

If you are a beginner and want to give some of these projects a try, we can help! The Idea Mill at the Millennium Library has a drop-in class on Tuesday nights where you can come with your knitting or crochet projects to get help from actual human beings.

If you are more of a figure-it-out-on-your-own type of person, Toft has provided instructional videos for every one of the techniques that they use. So help is as near as your phone… unless you’re in a car and you’ve maxed out your data plan.

Knotty tip #6: Download the videos before travelling!

By the time we arrived at our friends’ cabin just outside Tobermory, I had the body and head of my very first monster completed. It was time to start on the embellishments, which is easily the funnest part. Our friends have a 2 year old, Sullivan… and I am not making this up… he literally screamed with delight when he saw the yet unfinished monster. He quickly claimed it and we added horns, claws and a belly button as per his request. Next morning, he was busy feeding his monster breakfast and I began getting requests from the other children we were visiting with to make monsters for them. So you’ve been warned; once you start crocheting, it won’t be long before you’re hooked.

It’s so much fun to be knotty.


Spiders, bugs, and worms…oh my!

“I take my hat off to you — or I would, if I were not afraid of showering you in spiders.”
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

June was an interesting month in Winnipeg – hot weather, then cool weather; dry periods with the relief of occasional rain. It sounds like the perfect Manitoba spring. But wait, what are those tiny things crawling on the lawn chair you wanted to sit on in the sun? The small black things covering your car? Welcome to cankerworm season. The time of year where getting in your car might require some serious brushing off, and where the eco-alternative, cycling, involves dodging (or not) curtains of worms!

One afternoon I tried doggedly to brave this year’s hoards and swept off my deck and, broom in hand, hauled out my laptop and sat down. This was interrupted every few minutes by a fresh sweep. By the end of the afternoon I felt like I was positively crawling. This got me thinking to a book I had read, that had me crawling in a fairly major way, The Lost City of Z.

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon  is an Amazonian adventure story. It chronicles different real life searches for the mythical lost city of Z, alternating between the different adventurers. In 1925 Percy Fawcett, his son, and the rest of his party, ventured into the Amazon hoping to make a huge historical discovery. But the whole party disappeared, and over the ensuing decades, many scientists and adventure seekers have searched for evidence of Fawcett’s party, often coming to tragic ends themselves. The description of the natural world, especially the insect part, is more than vivid. Before I read it I had no idea you could lose a whole backpack in a matter of hours to hoards of ants!

Spiders and I are not the best of friends – I am able to sort of deal with small, non-hairy, non-creepy-with-legs-radiating-from-the-centre kind. Spiders in literature can be pretty cheerful and wise, like Charlotte, whom Wilbur befriends in Charlotte’s Web. But more often they are dark and frightening. The Lord of the Ring’s Shelob fits this bill perfectly – a sort of evil personified (If you LOVE J.R.R. Tolkien then check out Ungoliath in The Silmarillion– she makes Shelob feel almost tame). Then there is Aragog, from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. A sort of sad case, accused wrongly, and loved by Hagrid, he wasn’t quite as scary as some of his literary peers.

Stephen King apparently lists spiders as one of his top fears, but it hasn’t stopped him from including them in some of his novels – they show up in both It and the Dark Tower series. Neil Gaiman includes not one, but thousands of spiders, in his novel Anansi Boys.



Winner of the 2016 Arthur C Clarke Award for Best Science Fiction Novel, Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Children of Time includes both ants and spiders. It is the epic story of humanity’s battle for survival on a terraformed planet, but the planet is already populated by an empire of accidentally scientifically evolved spiders!

In Wicked Bugs: The Louse that Conquered Napoleon’s Army & Other Diabolical Insects, Stewart has uncovered the most terrifying and titillating stories of bugs gone wild. It’s an A to Z of insect enemies, interspersed with sections that explore bugs with kinky sex lives (“She’s Just Not That Into You”), creatures lurking in the cupboard (“Fear No Weevil”), insects eating your tomatoes (“Gardener’s Dirty Dozen”), and phobias that feed our (sometimes) irrational responses to bugs (“Have No Fear”).

As much as insects and other arthropods might make us squirm and crawl,  the cold hard truth is that we couldn’t live on this planet without them!




Going anywhere this summer? Take the library with you!

wpl summer reading

We want people to share photos of WPL materials on your summer adventures (from camping to urban hotels, and anything in between).  Tag #WPLsummertime on whichever social media platform you use and at the end of the summer, we’ll map it out and see how far we’ve travelled!

The Millennium Library is also hosting a Travel the World with your Library Card display. Write the name of a book you’ve read and the location where the book takes place on one of our “boarding passes,” then hand it in to staff and get a sticker to mark the spot on our map of the world. The boarding passes are pinned up around the map as well, should others be interested in following in your footsteps.

summer reading


It’s Time to Read: All Systems Red

Dear Readers, would you believe I’m worried? I’m worried about whether or not I can sell you all on a sci-fi novella in which the main protagonist is called Murderbot. Oh, and did I mention the cover looks straight out of the video game Halo?

Not that I’m against sci-fi, novella’s, or things named Murderbot (as long as they’re not murderbotting me). I’m not even against Halo—though, truth be, I’ve always been more into PlayStation than Xbox.

I’m worried because my formative years were spent in a particular space (Northern rural Manitoba) and a particular time (The 90s) and the resulting space-time was not particularly kind to nerd culture. In this space-time one read sci-fi in dark corners of the library, lest one be seen; and anything that ended in the suffix ‘ella’ was seen as pretentious. Recommending a sci-fi novella was not something done with abandon.

But here we are, nearing the end of the twenty-teens, and nerd culture is all the rage. Fantasy is cool. Science Fiction is cool. Keanu Reeves is cool. So, by all logic, this month’s Time to Read selection: Martha Wells’ Hugo and Nebula award winning novella All Systems Red should be cool!

Do you agree? Do you disagree? At only 152 pages, it would be almost painless to find out. And once you do, be sure to let us know on our Time to Read Facebook group, our website, or by writing to us at

And to ease you into hardcore science fiction, be sure to check out this month’s Time to Read episode in which we discuss the urban fantasy Trickster Drift with special guest host Jordan Wheeler. Available now!

~Alan and the rest of the Time to Read team


THIS happened in our garden this weekend over a period of three hours – three hours! The Monarch caterpillar had its fill of the milkweed in our garden, assumed the “J” shape, and transformed into a chrysalis. Over time, its jade and gold shell will become clear and we’ll be able to see the glorious Monarch butterfly colours through it. When the time is right, the butterfly will break out of the shell, spread its wings, and experience the freedom that comes with flight. It’s pretty inspiring stuff.

As the saying goes, change is the only constant in life. And when I think about stories, metamorphosis is a common theme. There are few books that I can think of that don’t deal with metamorphosis or change – directly or indirectly – and at an individual, neighbourhood, societal, or worldwide level. But here are some fiction and non-fiction stories where metamorphosis plays a front and center role, whether the metamorphosis happens with the main character or those around them.

  • The Year of the Hare by Arto Paasilinna. Kaarlo Vatanen, a frustrated journalist, leaves his urban life and goes on an outrageous wilderness adventure with a hare in Finland.
  • Gentleman Jack: The Real Anne Lister by Anne Choma. A fearless and charismatic woman, Anne Lister was an industrialist, landowner, and diarist who recorded the first ever known marriage to another woman – her own. Her four-million word diary continues to shape women’s history.
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Benjamin Button is born an old man and gets younger as each day passes. Can you imagine that?
  • Old in Art School: A Memoir by Nell Painter. The author, a retired and celebrated historian, returns to school in her sixties to earn Fine Arts degrees. Yes, that’s right – degrees! What does it feel like to be “old in art school” and what did she do when someone told her “You’ll never be an artist”?
  • A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. Count Alexander Rostov is an aristocrat who has never worked a day in his life. Sentenced to house arrest he lives in an attic room of a hotel across the street from the Kremlin watching Russian history in the making.
  • Britt-Marie was Here by Fredrik Backman. Britt-Marie walks away from a loveless marriage and takes a job in a dilapidated recreation center. At sixty-three, she takes on the task of becoming soccer coach to a group of children who aren’t the best at the sport.

How about reading how these transformations unfold? And if you’ve read a particularly good “metamorphosis” book, please do share it in the comments so we can add it to our “to be read” pile.

~ Reegan

Home Run for the Summer

Question: Why does it get hot after a baseball game?

Answer: Because all the fans leave!

(If you want to take a swing at a few baseball jokes yourself, check out Baseball Jokes by Pam Rosenberg for more. You’ll be the hit of the dugout!)

Now, down to the business of baseball – a great summer pastime, whether you play in a league or just like to throw the ball around with friends. Winnipeg Public Library loves the baseball + summer pairing, and we have some great family-friendly summer activities and new baseball books to help get you warmed up and ready for your turn at bat!

If you have any young baseball fans at home, make sure you get them signed up for the TD Summer Reading Club, a fun bilingual reading club for children ages 0-12! It’s free to join, just head to your nearest branch to get your kit. For every 5 days of reading marked off on the calendar, kids get a ballot entry for our summer prize draws! One of the prizes is tickets to a Winnipeg Goldeyes game on Sunday, July 28, which is Library Day at the Ballpark

And, since the Winnipeg Goldeyes love to read, they’ll be joining us at the branches below to read stories! Click on the image below to register.


Anybody’s Game: Kathryn Johnston, the First Girl to Play Little League Baseball by Heather Lang

In 1950, Kathryn Johnston wanted to play Little League, but an unwritten rule kept girls from trying out. So she cut off her hair and tried out as a boy under the nickname Tubby. She made the team and changed Little League forever. A great story about what it means to want to do something so badly you’re willing to break the rules to do it and how breaking the rules can lead to change.

This nonfiction baseball picture book is a great, inspirational way to celebrate the upcoming baseball season.

No Fear! by Steve Moore

Volume 1 of the King of the Bench series follows the experiences of benchwarmer Steve, who struggles to conquer his fear of getting hit with a baseball before his first year on the school team is ruined. Reminiscent of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, it’s a good choice for sports fans and benchwarmers alike!

The rhino in right field by Stacy DeKeyser

Growing up in 1948 Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Nick wants to change his life. For twelve years, he’s done what his hard-working, immigrant parents want him to do. Now he’s looking for his own American dream and he thinks he’s found it. The local baseball team is having a batboy contest, and Nick wants to win.

But the contest is on a Saturday–the day Nick has to work in his father’s shop. There’s one other tiny–well, not so tiny–problem. A 2,000-pound rhinoceros named Tank. Nick and his friends play ball in the city zoo–and Tank lives just beyond the right field fence. Nick’s experience getting the ball out of Tank’s pen has left him frozen with fear whenever a fly ball comes his way.

This book mixes history with sports, along with friendship and the encouragement to work hard for the things that matter most to you.

Swing by Kwame Alexander

Noah and his best friend Walt want to become cool, make the baseball team, and win over Sam, the girl Noah has loved for years. When Noah finds old love letters, Walt hatches a plan to woo Sam. But as Noah’s love life and Walt’s baseball career begin, the letters alter everything.

Have any favourite baseball books or jokes you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments!

Happy reading!


Climate this

Are you overwhelmed with all the climate news that has been published lately? Do you fluctuate between eco-anxiety and complete denial? Are you burying your head in books and feeling guilty while you drive your SUV to work? (Ha! No judgement.) The Green It. Mean It. crew at Winnipeg Public Library has you covered. All of us are also taking steps on the sustainability path and learning as we go. And we think, why not make it a positive experience? Reducing waste, saving money, maybe even getting more exercise if we decide to walk or bike instead of drive… Exploring alternatives doesn’t have to be dire stuff. It can be exciting and interesting.

Here are some newer titles in our collection for you to explore as you go along your sustainability journey.

To further assist you in your investigations, we’re creating a new Green Choices Information Guide that will provide information for individuals looking to change things up and reduce their environmental impact. It will have links to information on everything from building your own wind turbine to decreasing your reliance on plastic and everything in between. Stay tuned for it! I’m thinking I want to add solar panels to our geothermal West End home and start making money by adding to the grid! Is this even possible? I’ll have to do more research and find out. We’re exploring the frontier and our choices are creating the blueprint. How amazing is that!

In the meantime, if you’re interested in talking to community experts, register for one of our fabulous library programs.

  • If you want to explore an up-to date option to driving a fossil fuel vehicle, register for our program, Everything You Need to Know about Electric Vehicles at Louis Riel Library on Thursday, August 8 from 6:30-7:30 pm. As of 2019, there is a new incentive program to purchase electric vehicles from the federal government. And to further motivate you, according to a graph on the City of Winnipeg website, residential vehicles are responsible for 32.1% of Winnipeg’s greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Do you hate to see those plastic bags stuck in trees and overflowing garbage cans as much as I do? If you have any interest in decreasing your waste, we’re offering a Low Waste Living program at Fort Garry Library on August 13th from 6-8:30 pm.
  • And if you want to Learn How to Use Less Water, join Andrew at Henderson Library on July 30th from 7-8 pm as he shares practical techniques and devices that reduce water consumption. Be green and save money!

And finally, here’s a fun read (or watch the documentary!) to inspire you: No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life In The Process.


All the best as you transition to green living!

– Nadine, Reegan, Stephanie, and Andrew

Indigenous Languages at Winnipeg Public Library

Today, June 21st, is National Indigenous Peoples’ Day and this month is National Indigenous History Month and this year is the International Year of Indigenous Languages, so this post is a great opportunity to inform or remind folks that Winnipeg Public Library carries a wide range of books to help learn an Indigenous language or that are written in an Indigenous language. Increasingly, our collections have materials for both adults/teens and children. If you’re looking for something specific, just ask. We are very happy to help find what you need.

Anishinaabemowin (Ojibway) and Cree (several dialects) have the most items in the collection but we also have materials about or in Michif, Dakota, Dene, Oji-Cree and Inuktitut. If you know of a resource that you think we should have, please let us know! We suggest checking our catalogue (for example, search for: cree language) to make sure we don’t already have the title. You can suggest a purchase using the short form on this page.

To learn more about Indigenous Services at Winnipeg Public Library, visit our Indigenous Services page. It shares information about the Indigenous Resources Collection, the Ah kha koo gheesh and Wii ghoss spaces at the Millennium Library, programs, and our Indigenous Info Guide and Residential Schools Info Guide to help with information searching and research.

With best wishes from the Library for a good summer,



Audiobooks for summer vacation

Seeing as how Father’s Day has just passed but many summer days remain, some possibly involving a car and great distances to parts unknown, I thought I would write about our many audiobooks. In honour of Father’s Day, I’ll talk about our many techno thriller, spy, and espionage authors. I might even throw in a Monty Python reference or two.

But first, for those of you who have not heard about our audiobooks, here’s a quick overview:

  • You can borrow audiobooks on CD or download audio files to your computer, smartphone, tablet or other mobile device.
  • To grab a CD, go to your nearest library and ask for the audiobook section. Choose your CD and check it out at a circulation counter or one of our many self-checkout machines.
  • To check out an audio file, download the OverDrive/Libby and RBdigital app (available for both Android and Apple devices).  Once the apps are installed, search for your favorite author or title in both collections and borrow. You can then download the audiobook to your device and listen to it offline – great for planes, trains, automobiles, or anywhere you might be faced with a lot of time and not a lot to do.

To get you started, here are some of my favorite thriller, spy and espionage authors with some of their titles. Enjoy!

Ted Bell

Ted Bell’s Alexander Hawke series are fun, fast, and fantastic. Lord Alexander Hawke, part James Bond and part commando, is a British secret agent tasked with stopping international crises, terrorist plots and crime. His books are fast paced and well written. Ted Bell has a good handle on current events, which he weaves into his novels for realism.

  • Tsar (available on CD)
  • Overkill (available on OverDrive and on CD)
  • Warriors (available on OverDrive and on CD)

Alex Berenson

Alex Berenson, another author who seamlessly weaves fact and fiction to create believable future crises and international situations and writes fast paced engaging novels that keep you reading until the end. John Wells, Berenson’s dour protagonist, is always there to infiltrate various criminal organisations or terrorist cells.

Dale Brown

Former USAF pilot Dale Brown draws on his personal experience and knowledge to create intriguing and technical techno thrillers. He draws on current events to write hypothetical “what if” futures that are thoroughly enjoyable. Brown adds great detail about various aircraft, procedures and events without bogging down his stories with too much technical detail. Most of his novels involve protagonist Patrick McLanahan defeating foreign governments, cartels or terrorist cells.

Tom Clancy

Tom Clancy, the grandfather of the techno-thriller and best-known for his novel The Hunt for Red October, wrote intriguing military action and adventure stories. His books were well researched and combined real-life elements in fictional scenarios.  After his death in 2013, other authors continued his Jack Ryan novels (much like Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne series).

Vince Flynn

Like Tom Clancy, Vince Flynn passed away in 2013 and his novels have been carried on by other authors. Vince Flynn is famous for his tough, rugged protagonist Mitch Rapp who is fearless and more than willing to crush some heads to achieve his objectives. Flynn’s Rapp novels involve fast paced action, international crises, terrorists and internal fighting.  Always enjoyable, Flynn’s novels are great summer reads.

If you’re not sure what you want or simply want to browse, try our NoveList Plus database. It has hundreds of authors and titles to browse through. Each entry also links to the library catalogue to tell you whether the library owns that title or owns other titles by an author.

If you want some in person suggestions, please visit any one of our 20 locations. We’re here to help.  Happy post Father’s Day, enjoy the summer… and now for something completely different!


More Books to Keep Kids Busy This Summer

It feels like the warm weather just started, yet somehow we’re already halfway through June. Summer is the time of year when families come to the library and take out a whole stack of books to read on vacation. As the most popular series fly off the shelves, the children’s section can start to look a little bare. Harry Potter and Percy Jackson are just a couple of the series that may become difficult to find in the next month or two. You might need a book to reach your summer reading goals, or something to keep your child from spending too much time staring at a screen. Whatever the case, try one of these suggestions to keep you busy while you wait for your other books to come in.

The Case of the Missing Moonstone by Jordan Stratford

Did a young Ada Lovelace, the first computer programmer, and Mary Wollstonecraft, the mother of Mary Shelley (author of Frankenstein), really team up to solve mysteries in nineteenth century London? Sadly no, but if the idea intrigues you, give The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency a try! The author has a lot of fun with the historical characters, but it isn’t necessary to know anything about them in order to enjoy these books.


The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

Whew, that’s a long title! In this book, a girl named September leaves her dreary life for an adventure in another world. Along the way she encounters a herd of wild bicycles, a boy named Saturday, and a Wyverary (that’s half wyvern and half library). The Fairyland books were inspired by early children’s works like the Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland. These five books are full of wit, whimsy and elaborate wordplay. Valente is one of my favourite authors and has also written several novels for adults.

The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman

When one of Lyra’s friends is kidnapped, she’s drawn into a plot that involves missing children and mysterious experiments taking place in the far north. The Golden Compass has already been made into a graphic novel, a movie and a play. This is one of my childhood favourites, and I have high hopes for the BBC miniseries that’s coming out later this year.  A perfect time to read the books before the TV show! It’s the first in a trilogy, and if you like it there are a few short companion volumes and also a recently published prequel, The Book of Dust.

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

I only recently read this book for the first time, and I’m sorry I waited so long! Sophie works in her family’s hat shop, until the day a witch turns her into an old woman. Searching for a way to reverse the spell, she meets the wizard Howl and his unusual castle. There are two books that follow it, along with a large number of other  works by Jones. You may also want to watch the animated film by Studio Ghibli.

Princeless: Save Yourself by Jeremy Whitley

I’m really enjoying this graphic novel series about a princess in a tower who decides she’s had enough of this whole damsel in distress thing. She befriends the dragon guarding her and together they set off to rescue her sisters. It’s great if, like me, you love different retellings of familiar fairy tales. There’s also a spin-off series about Raven and her crew of female pirates.

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger

In a steampunk world in which vampires and werewolves roam Victorian London, there is a very special sort of finishing school. These young ladies learn much more than manners, for Miss Geraldine’s school turns out the best spies and assassins in England. The Finishing School books are great for teens. They can also be read as a prequel to Carriger’s main series for adults, the Parasol Protectorate.