Category Archives: Miscellaneous

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 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.

 

Melanie

Summer Reading

“One benefit of Summer was that each day we had more light to read by.”

Jeannette Walls

Somehow, reading in the summer is a different experience than at other times of the year. We’re more apt to do it outside, for one thing, since turning pages with mittens on is a challenge. So is seeing the page when your breath comes out as a cloud. But that’s behind us now, summer is here and the reading is easy. Beach reads have sometimes been defined as totally unrealistic escapism, and that’s not a bad way to pass some time swinging in the hammock or at the cottage. Sometimes, though, we need something with a bit more substance. Reading children’s and young adult titles provides a quality reading experience through the viewpoint of kids and teens, and can take you back to when you were a kid.

Dez and Miikan have shared a lot of experiences in their lives, both good and bad. But when Dez’s grandmother becomes ill, Dez is unable to cope, even with the help of her best friend. When Dez runs away from home, Miikan and the rest of the community do their best to help, but will it be enough to bring Dez home?

Felix is living a secret life. He goes to a good school and has great friends. But what nobody knows is  Felix and his mother have been living in a camper van, struggling to make ends meet. Trying to sneak in showers and finding enough food for the day are realities that Felix is having a hard time hiding from everyone, especially when Astrid is in her ‘slumps’

Mr. Baker’s class is ending the school year with a trip to the Carlsbad Caverns. When an earthquake collapses the tunnels during the trip, the class is sent careening into the abyss. Mr. Baker is missing, and the students are separated in a terrifying, unknown world below. Can they survive and make it back to the surface?

This two-sided novel explores reconciliation through the eyes of three children. In Lucy & Lola, the girls find out about their Kookum (grandmother) and mother’s experiences in the Canadian residential school system. In When We Play Our Drums, They Sing! Dene Cho learns about the impact of residential schools on the loss of their traditions and language.

Ethan’s dad is a famous comic book artist, so when a project at school requires expert drawing skills, his group nominates Ethan for the job. The problem is, Ethan can’t draw. Then Inkling rolls off the page of one of Ethan’s Dad’s sketchbooks and wants to help. That’s when the fun begins…

 I hope that you enjoy reading these books as much as I did. If this list has left you wanting more, check out myrca.ca  for your next great summer read.

 

-Lori

It’s Time to Read: Trickster Drift

Dear Readers, we are about to embark on new territory for Time to Read—a sequel. This month we will be reading Trickster Drift by Eden Robinson, sequel to Son of a Trickster which we read way back in episode 7.

Sequels are always an interesting undertaking. They often come with high expectations set by the original and the stigma that ‘sequels’ are never as good as the original.

They are also a great opportunity to reconnect with your favourite characters. Without giving too much of Son of a Trickster away, I’m wondering how Jared is doing now that he’s found magic in his life. Will Jared’s relationship with his mom, Maggie, be any different from last time around? And what nerdy endeavours is Crashpad up to these days?

It was also fun to go back and listen to the Son of a Trickster podcast episode and remember we had our very first podcast special guest: Information Services librarian Monique! Fitting then, that we will also have a special guest on this episode: author and former WPL writer-in-residence Jordan Wheeler.

And of course we’d like to hear your thoughts on Trickster Drift. Let us know on our Time to Read Facebook group, our website wpl-podcast.winnipeg.ca, or by writing to us at wpl-podcast@winnipeg.ca.

Don’t forget to check out the latest (and very special) episode of the Time to Read podcast which features author Margaret Sweatman as we discuss her novel Fox. Available now!

~Alan and the rest of the Time to Read team

Fairy Tale Spin-Offs

There are so many stories that we’ve heard over and over again where the princess is cursed or held captive by the evil villain, waiting for her prince to come and rescue her, the kingdom is saved, and they all live happily ever after. But what happens when the story gets changed?

Cinder book cover

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

What if Cinderella was a famous mechanic hiding her cyborg hand and foot and an android?  In this version, Rapunzel could be the greatest hacker in the universe who is also in love with a criminal. Red Riding Hood could be searching for her grandma no matter if there are beasts in her way. Snow White could be trying not to let her illness control her while still attempting to help others on the moon. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer is an amazing series with fun characters who are trying to save the Earth from Queen Luna.

Princeless, Vol. 1:  Save Yourself by Jeremy Whitley

Princess Adrienne was put in a tower by her father “The 
King” because he wanted a worthy prince to rescue her, but she decides she doesn’t want to be saved by a prince. Instead, she befriends the dragon guarding her tower and goes on a quest to free her older sisters from their towers. She meets half dwarf Bedelia who chooses to help, even going so far as to make Princess Adrienne a real suit of armour. Along the way Bedelia and Adrienne learn how to believe in themselves and trust each other while battling beasts and outwitting those hunting them. This graphic novel is part of a series that is great for children and adults.

Ash by Malinda Lo

After her father’s passing, Ash has to clean up after her step-sisters and her cruel step-mother. She hopes to one day be taken away from it all to start her own fairy tale. One day she meets a real fairy named Sidhean who wants Ash to join him in the fairy realm. But when Ash starts learning how to hunt with the King’s huntress, feelings start to emerge and Ash has to make a choice between love and escape.

Poison: A Wicked Snow White Tale by Sarah Pinborough

Poison kicks off a wicked tale trilogy. Much to her stepmother’s disapproval, Snow White prefers trousers to tight dresses and horseback to parties. When Snow White falls into a deep sleep is the prince more than meets the eye?

~ Jordan

 

 

Our Watch Has Ended… Now What?

The end of an era of fantastic television that gave rise to epic one-liners, shocking deaths, and a series finale that a few of you may not have enjoyed so much, has finally come to pass. Not to worry though, no spoilers here for those of you who haven’t seen or heard what happens at the end of Game of Thrones (kudos to you, that is a feat in and of itself!). After watching the finale, I, as I’m sure many of you were, thinking “Now what?” Naturally, HBO answered that question by including previews of some pretty amazing new shows that were coming to the network, His Dark Materials series, Westworld season 3 (though that isn’t until 2020), and Watchmen. All these amazing trailers had me questioning whether to cancel my subscription now that Game of Thrones was over. I realize that there are still some great TV series out there, and with great TV series there are of course great books that many are based on. Here are just a few promising starts to series airing this year that may just help with your GOT withdrawal (you can of course still read the books if you haven’t already. If you have, you may need something to tide you over until George R.R. Martin releases the final two in the series.

His Dark Materials

Philip Pullman’s immensely popular trilogy did already have a film version of the first novel, but it didn’t do well at the box office. Now, HBO and BBC are presenting a series of all three novels which looks very promising. Dafne Keen (of Logan fame) plays Lyra, with a fantastic extended cast featuring James McAvoy, Ruth Wilson and Lin-Manuel Miranda. The trailer previewed some excellent visuals and with time to truly flesh out the fantastical world that Pullman created, I have my fingers crossed that the series will do his work justice. For those unfamiliar with this book series, it follows Lyra, niece of famed adventurer Lord Asriel as she embarks on her own adventure to save her friend Will who is kidnapped by a group known as “the gobblers”. Through the series she discovers aspects of herself, her past and her world that will forever change her life.

Watchmen

Based on the award-winning graphic novel by Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons that was written during the 1980’s and was lauded as the first grown-up comic, this TV series certainly looks intriguing. Whether you’re a fan of the Zack Snyder film or not, a series could certainly have the potential of delving into the world that Moore created in the comic. Set during an alternate history where “superheroes” have emerged and the United States has won the Vietnam War, the year 1985 has the world edging towards World War III and the superheroes who were discovered are either in retirement or working for the government. A government-sponsored superhero is murdered and those retired re-emerge.  

Good Omens

Based upon the off-beat and comedic novel Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Neil Gaiman and the late Sir Terry Pratchett, this TV series, also written by Gaiman looks like a sure hit. And with the Tenth Doctor in it, aka David Tennant, I’m definitely in! The novel follows the angel Aziraphale and demon Crowley, two unlikely friends who take a liking to humanity as they attempt to thwart the apocalypse. Sound crazy and fun enough for you? 

The Twilight Zone

“You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension: a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas; you’ve just crossed over into the Twilight Zone.

Rod Serling

This introduction has become pop culture legend. I remember the intro from sneak-watching some episodes when I was younger, and then from going on the Tower of Terror just a few times at Disney World, and I get chills each time I hear it, coupled by the fantastic intro music of course. You may remember watching these shows as re-runs on late-night television and many of the shocking twists I’m certain stayed with you. Comedian, screenwriter and director Jordan Peele has revitalized this series with some new episodes that reflect the issues and topics of our time (I’ve watched many of them, and they are quite good!). The library does have all five seasons of the original series for your viewing pleasure, but if you’d like a book similar to The Twilight Zone, the following are my suggestions: Duel: Terror Stories by Richard Matheson (this compilation contains some stories which inspired episodes of The Twilight Zone), Body by Asa Nonami and The Best of Richard Matheson by Richard Matheson.  

NOS4A2

This series (pronounced Nosferatu) is based on a novel by bestselling author Joe Hill, whose father, yes, is Stephen King, but who has written some incredible books in his own right. The book and TV series follow Victoria “Vic” McQueen who possesses an ability of finding things that are lost, as she attempts to thwart seemingly immortal child abductor Charles Manx who takes the children to a place called “Christmasland”. When she was younger Vic was the only kid to ever escape Manx, now older she must risk everything to save her son from being taken. The book itself is certainly very creepy, and the TV series looks unsettling as well, with Zachary Quinto as Charles Manx, it is sure to be one frightening ride.

This is of course just a taste of exciting new TV series coming out, are there any in particular you’re looking forward to watching? Comment below!

Happy Reading (and watching!)

-Aileen

In The Spotlight: Outreach Services, Louis Riel Library, and Fort Garry Library

In the Spotlight – where we share what’s happening at your library branches! This In the Spotlight focuses on Millennium Library – Outreach Services, and the Louis Riel and Fort Garry Libraries.

OUTREACH SERVICES – Bringing the Library and its resources into the Community

The Outreach Team: Mauri, Chris, Hugh, and Toby

Outreach Services is a team of five staff who traverse the city in our trusty library van. We can be found at festivals, conferences, expos, special events, and regularly occurring pop-up libraries called Check It Out. We also present to community organizations, seniors groups, newcomer/EAL classes, and more.

For Check It Outs, we fill the van with boxes of books organized by category. These are then moved out of the van to the site (we do a lot of lifting! safely!) and displayed on tables for people to peruse. We tailor the collections we bring for each event and the community. At a recent gardening event, we brought lots of gardening books and they flew off the shelves (well, table actually)!

There might be prizes. :-)

We also sometimes take big games and literacy-based crafts. Have you seen our giant Connect 4? It’s a big hit. Spelling Twister is also a fun take on the classic game. Our laptops offer a live connection to the library so we can check out books on the spot. We can also renew items, issue cards, and demonstrate our online resources.

Big Games and Big Books!

We are very busy – last year, Outreach staff offered 75 presentations and card sign-up events outside of the library and visited 34 community events! In 2018, we ran 218 programs in total, reaching over 10,000 people. 

We would love to see you out in the community. Come find us and say “hi”. We will be at:

LOUIS RIEL LIBRARY – Big, busy (on average more than 500 visitors a day), friendly, and loves puppets! 

Serving a thriving neighborhood, noted for having a large French-speaking population and welcoming newcomers to Canada, we are nestled between the Jonathan Toews Community Center and the Dakota Fieldhouse. 

Inside the Louis Riel Library. It’s so bright!

We offer diverse programming for all ages. Past offerings have included: Tween Drawing Club, Seed Starting, Laughter Yoga, Creating Comic Books, May the 4th Be With You, NFB Club for Kids, and many, many more! 

Our regular preschool story time features a weekly puppet show. (We enjoy preparing and presenting puppet shows just as much as the children seem to enjoy watching them!) Our Branch Head, Trevor Lockhart, and Assistant Branch Head, Tauni Jensen, also comprise one half of the Tales at Night crew, who read stories to bar-going adults at the Good Will Social Club on Portage Avenue. We’ve yet to include the puppets in that program, but you never know…And if you don’t want to wait, or you can’t get down to the Good Will, you can catch Trevor on WPL’s Time to Read Book Club Podcast.

Trevor Lockhart, Branch Head Librarian and a member of the Tales at Night and Time to Read Podcast Teams

Right now we’re gearing up for the TD Summer Reading Club that starts on June 18 and is offered at all library branches. We’ll be offering at least 12 programs into 8 short summer weeks at Louis Riel, so stay tuned! Hope to see you here!

FORT GARRY LIBRARY – Creates displays to connect you with new things to explore

At Fort Garry Library, we love to make displays. It keeps things fresh and interesting for our customers (and us) to regularly have new things to explore. It’s also a great way to highlight things in our collection, interesting upcoming programs for kids, teens, or adults, or celebrate a special day. Here are some things you would see around the branch if you visited this week.

Our children’s bulletin board changes with the seasons. Today it is leading you along a path to faraway lands that we hope readers will recognize. Over the summer it will be covered with the names and artwork of kids participating in the TD Summer Reading Club (last year we were proud to host the highest number of kids in the system!)

We’re all very excited that gardening season is beginning, so the gardening books have taken over these shelves. Head here if you want some inspiration or just to flip through the beautiful photos.

May is Asian Heritage month so we’ve filled part of our case with these this colourful and eye catching  display.

And special mention to this fellow. This is one thing that will not change – at the entrance to our Fiction and Teen collection is this memorial to Dr. A. W. Hogg, whose estate made possible the addition of the room in 1967. As such, staff and customers in the know refer to this area as the Hogg room. Thanks so much Dr. Hogg!

Stay tuned – displays for our summer programming are coming soon!

Remembering the Longest Day

Book cover
This coming 6th of June will mark the 75th anniversary of the Allied landings in Normandy in 1944. Though originally a generic military term, this is now the date universally known as “D-Day.” It will be observed throughout the world because of how it helped save the world from fascist dictatorship, and helped shape the world we live in today. The Allied operation, code-named Overlord, saw 160,000 soldiers cross the English Channel and begin the hard fight to liberate Europe from Nazi occupation.  Of these, 14,000 were Canadians who landed on Juno Beach, including two Manitoban units: The Royal Winnipeg Rifles Regiment (amongst the first Allied units to land) and the Fort Garry Horse. The 402 City of Winnipeg Squadron provided air cover.
 

There are quite a few books and films about the battle of Normandy available at Winnipeg Public Library, but here are a few recommendations.  

D-Day Minute by Minute by Jonathan Mayo is narrated with a fresh approach, like a radio broadcast, describing events minute by minute as if they were happening in real time, and motivates the reader to keep going. The book is full of first-hand eye witness accounts, both civilian and military, who lived through the day.  

Soldier, Sailor, Frogman, Spy, Airman, Gangster, Kill or Die : How the Allies won on D-Day by Giles Milton has a similar narrative that uses the stories of survivors from both sides but is a denser read than Mayo’s book. It alternates between the large strategic picture as seen in war rooms and individual one of those who fought or simply lived through the event.

Did you know? The beach where Canadians were to land was almost codenamed Jelly (as in Jellyfish, Goldfish and Swordfish). Canadian Wing Commander Dawnay then made a counter-proposal: Juno, his wife’s first name, which was deemed more appropriate.

For those of you interested in Canadian military history and who like delving in detailed description of military tactics and strategy, Terry Copp’s Fields of Fire: The Canadians in Normandy is an excellent read. This thoroughly researched book gives the role of Canadians in the Normandy campaign a long overdue recognition, challenging past assessments from historians. The initial landings were the beginning two months of intense and brutal battle with Canadian soldiers fighting a skilled and well-armed enemy that little pause or quarter. Despite this, Allied troops fought with tenacity, and growing skill and power until they managed to break out of Normandy and chased the Nazi armies out of France by the end of August. Copp is also the author of The Canadian Battlefields of Normandy: A visitor’s guide, essential reading for any Canadian who is contemplating a trip to France or wants a virtual trip thanks to its great colour photography and maps.

In addition to books, there are many films, both fictional and documentary that are available for watching, but usually not from a Canadian perspective. Storming Juno is a docudrama effectively mixing Canadian veterans’ accounts of their experiences in interviews with re-enactment scenes depicting the true stories of paratroopers, tank crews and regular soldiers who took part in the invasion. Though most of us have seen films like the Longest Day and Saving Private Ryan, this is a worthy addition to the list since this the only one ever made about the Canadian experience that wasn’t a straight documentary.

Did you know? James Doohan, who would later become a famous actor as Chief Engineer Scotty in the original Star Trek series, landed on Juno Beach along with the 14th Field Artillery Regiment and was severely wounded, losing a finger on his right hand while leading his 30 men to safety across the beach.

It’s important to remember that the Normandy Landings were the results of years of planning, building of war materials (including two artificial harbours!), intelligence gathering, and finally a complex campaign of deception as to when and where D-Day would occur. The final victory would not have been possible without these elements, and the men and women who were involved. Double Cross: The true story of the D-day spies by Ben Macintyre takes us in the shadow war that occurred before D-Day: complex deceptions, like Operation Fortitude, which protected and enabled the invasion thanks to fictional armies made rubber, canvas and bogus radio chatter, and the Double Cross system, which specialized in turning German spies into double agents. These double agents then deceived the Nazis into believing that the Allies would attack at Calais and Norway rather than Normandy.

Did you know? To deceive the Germans as to the location and timing of the invasion, a Lieutenant from Royal Army Pay Corps with an uncanny resemblance to British General Bernard Montgomery was paraded in Cairo for weeks before the invasion. At Montgomery’s insistence, he was paid the full salary of a general during the ruse.

It is estimated that less than 3% of veterans of the Second World War are still alive to tell their stories. The upcoming anniversary may well be one of the last where they will be present, making sure that the memory of their sacrifices for our freedoms be remembered that much more important.  

– Louis-Philippe

What odds about Newfoundland lit?

The charm and beauty of this island is worth the long journey to get there. There are many writers and poets who live there, some who ‘come from away’ and fall in love with the place and many who grew up ’on the rock´. While there is much diversity in the stories and writing coming from Newfoundland, there are also some striking similarities.  The challenging weather (Manitobans can relate) and the remoteness of this place often come through in the narratives. And of course there are the many figures of speech Newfoundlanders employ which add a particular flavour.

If you are looking for some travel advice, Newfoundland and Labrador Book of Musts by Janice Wells will have some insider tips for you. The secret to travelling in Newfoundland is to be open to adventure, talk to locals and they will tell you the best trails to hike, fish to eat and pubs to gather at.

While you are flipping through the Book of Musts, you should also check out The Great Atlantic Canada Bucket List by Robin Esrock and Scenic Driving Atlantic Canada by Chloe Ernst. These books will help you plan your trip out east.

As most of my family lives in Newfoundland, I’ve spent many childhood summers visiting this magical place. Now that my parents have moved back, I continue to visit often. I’ve read my fair share of books by Newfoundland writers – both fiction and non-fiction. Here are a few newer books that will spin you a yarn and maybe have you yearning for more.

Our Homesick Songs by Emma Hooper
Hooper’s newest book is a gorgeous story told mostly from the perspective of 11 year-old Finn that examines rural outport Newfoundland in the 1990s after the collapse of the fishing industry. Families in these small communities were relocated by the government. Finn and his sister Cora create imaginary worlds on the island and their parents take turns working off the island in the Alberta oil fields to survive. 

Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles
This is a new release that I recommend you get your hands on. The book follows 3 main characters who are from the bay (small remote towns) and their intertwining lives in St. John’s (among townies) in the thick of February weather. The book centres on a restaurant and touches on foodie and chef culture in Newfoundland. Coles is deeply inspired by the #MeToo movement and confronts issues of racism, homophobia, sexism and class that shape contemporary Newfoundland society.

Wildness by Jeremy Charles
Speaking of Newfoundland food and food culture, this brand new cookbook is coming to our shelves soon. The recipes highlight local fare and have stories by the chef along with them.

February by Lisa Moore
This is another heart wrenching story of a Newfoundland woman who is tough as nails. The story follows Helen O’Mara, a woman dealing with the grief of losing her husband when the Ocean Ranger oil rig sinks in a February storm. This historical event is one that many Newfoundlanders remember vividly. Moore also has a newer book of short stories Something for Everyone, released in 2018, which has been well received.

Galore by Michael Crummey
This is novel which crosses multiple generations of Newfoundlanders living on a remote island called “Paradise Deep”. Crummey uses magical realism to explore the deep connections to ocean, land and inhabitants. You will likely need to use the family tree provided by the author but it is well worth losing yourself in this novel. 

Son of a Critch: A Childish Newfoundland Memoir by Mark Critch
It feels right to end this list on a funny book, as for all the difficulties of living in Newfoundland there is a collective sense of humour that is so unique. Mark Critch, of This Hour has 22 Minutes, has written a memoir that taps into this.

For your next good read I recommend you look all the way east to some of the fine writers hailing from Newfoundland. Yes b’y you best believe that Newfoundland lit is worth caring about!

– Kim

Delicious Desserts

“It’s the finale. It’s the last impression. A bad dessert can ruin the meal.”  ~ Anne McManus  

No pressure, right? A lot of people are intimidated by desserts, preferring to cook a savoury meal, rather than bake something. Me, I’ve always preferred baking to cooking. I loved my Easy Bake oven, when I was a child and I was also known as the cookie monster in our family. This year, I’ve been attempting to make classic desserts that I’ve never tried before, like Crème Brûlée and my most recent attempt, Macarons.

Perfect Patisserie by Dr. Tim Kinnaird, shows you how to make the three different types of meringues – French, Italian or Swiss. I went with the Italian meringue, where the egg white is whisked with a hot sugar syrup. My first attempt wasn’t too bad – I did manage to get the “feet,” the tiny little bubbles on the edges of the meringue, but some of the shells were hollow. I learned a few things this month: 1) I need to work on my piping bag skills. 2) I don’t like macarons enough to try making them again.

Sandra made a bread pudding from an old cookbook she had at home, but also did some on-line research and discovered that this dessert is a staple in a lot of cultures. The Pioneer Woman, Martha Stewart, Anna Olson all have recipes on their websites for this comforting dessert, but Sandra says the Bon Appétit one is the best.

Food52 Genius Desserts is a great cookbook for experienced bakers to try. Prasanna liked this book so much she is considering buying it for her birthday. She tried the Pistachio Millionaires Shortbread, but found it a bit too salty, with 3.5 tsps of Kosher salt. (We all thought it was fine!) She also made the Coffee Cardamom Walnut Cakes.

Sweet Laurel: Recipes for Whole Food, Grain-Free Desserts by Laurel Gallucci was the perfect cookbook for Deb’s family, since they have a lot of dietary restrictions.  The only sweeteners that her daughter can tolerate are honey and dates and she was ecstatic with the Alfajores. The Vegan caramel in the recipe is one she will use for other recipes as well. It’s quick and easy to make and tastes really caramel like. The orange pistachio loaf was a really good breakfast loaf – not too sweet.

Lynda and Maureen experimented with Slow Cooker Desserts by Roxanne Wyss and Lynda admits she became a little obsessed with it. The Warm Brownie Pudding is cooked right in the slow cooker. It was quite good although not as chocolate-ty or saucy as similar recipes she has made in the oven. The French Lemon Cake had a lovely fresh flavour that comes from fresh lemon juice and the zest of one whole lemon. The texture from baking in the slow cooker is similar to a pound cake rather than fluffy like when it is baked in the oven. It is baked in a 7″ spring form pan supported by a ring of tin foil to keep it off the bottom of the slow cooker.

Cathi chose Betty Crocker’s Sheet Pan Desserts for a couple of reasons. She is always looking for recipes that will work at the lake when resources are more limited but sometimes the numbers are not! This book has recipes that serve a number of people and are straightforward in terms of ingredients. This also applies to Treat Day at work and being made in a sheet pan makes transport easy. She also likes desserts, like the Gluten-free Rocky Road Bars and the Chocolate Truffle-Topped Caramel Bars that can be a little bite to go with sherbet, which is nice and light after any meal, and makes it complete.

Harriet tested out a couple of recipes from Simple Desserts: the Easiest Recipes in the World, on dinner guests, with mixed results. The Mango Pistachio Puff Pastry Rolls turned out really well and were delicious. The mangos were so sweet and tasty, after twenty minutes in the oven. She was a little disappointed with the Chocolate truffles, which ended up being granular in texture. The recipes are all really simple, with six ingredients or less, and also use a lot of pre-made products.

Cathy found Modern Baking by Donna Hay to be a little confusing, since it jumps from cup measurements to weighted measurements and had some very complex recipes. There were a few quick and easy ones, too, like the Chai Bundt cake, which mixes all the ingredients together in one bowl. She also tried the Goji Coconut Bliss Balls, which are like an energy ball, full of almonds, coconut, and dates.

The Vintage Baker by Jessie Sheehan is the result of collection, testing, and tweaking hundreds of heirloom recipes gathered from vintage baking booklets, resulting in a blend of nostalgia and modern-day baking. Jackie was intrigued by the idea of cookies with potato chips in them, so she had to try the Butterscotch – Potato Chip Balls and she wasn’t disappointed. They were DELICIOUS! This recipe is definitely a keeper, as well as, the Black Bottom Banana Dream Bars.

Tatiana would like to buy Jenny McCoy’s Desserts for Every Season. She ran out of regular flour while she was making her Cherry Pie, so she substituted in some peanut flour and was really happy with the results. It made the dough very pliable and she plans on making all of her pie crusts with peanut flour, from now on. It was also her first time making a lattice topping, which turned out great. The Rice Krispie Granola Bars were also a success.

Happy Baking!

Carole

Gotta catch them all: The 1990s are back in Detective Pikachu

POKÉMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU Photo credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

It is often the case that when a remake of a much beloved character is made, there is both fear and consternation as to the fate of the character. Will the film honour the work of previous writers and do justice to the character; or, will they decide that a new updated version requires a complete rewrite, changing both the tone and essence of the character?

When I heard there was to be new version of Pikachu, and a live action version to boot, I was highly skeptical. Often when animation is rendered into a live version, something tends to get lost in translation. This is because different mediums have varying needs and restrictions from other formats. What you can get away with in a comic or manga just doesn’t work on-screen.

Thus, I was pleasantly surprised when the trailer came out. It’s loosely based on the Nintendo game, Detective Pikachu (hence the title), but don’t be fooled. This isn’t a film for little kids. Judging by the trailer, this film is a bit of a nostalgia piece for those 90s kids who first played Pokémon as trading cards or on a Game Boy. As those kids have grown up, so has Pikachu. Pikachu has gone from being a one-dimensional fighter into a full character with hopes, fears and, most importantly, a voice (courtesy of Ryan Reynolds of Deadpool fame). When Pikachu meets Tim, the only person who can hear him, they set out on journey that leads them to uncover a plot that will change their world.

Sounds good, huh? But if you’re anything like me, you either need a little more backstory or you simply can’t get out opening weekend to see it. So for those that are waiting until after May 10th, take a gander at the original Pokémon to help you along. We have the graphic novels, Beginner Readers, and chapter books (often found in both English & French), the TV shows and the video games to kick start the love of Pikachu. For those who want to take the next step, there is manga for teens and adults, as well as graphic novels and art books that teach you how to draw manga.

So, dust off your Pokédecks, (or whip out your Pokémon Go app), and see what you still need to get, because you still gotta catch ‘em all.

Happy hunting!

~ Katherine