Tag Archives: Lori @ WPL

MYRCA Madness


March is a month which is special to many people for many reasons. For some, it’s because of St. Patrick’s Day, a time to celebrate their Irish heritage.  For others, it’s all about the basketball, and March Madness. Some years, Easter falls in March, which brings a bunch of reasons to celebrate. For the past 26 years, though, March is also the month when MYRCA voting starts.

And what is MYRCA? I’m so glad you asked. MYRCA or Manitoba Young Readers Choice Award was founded in 1990 as a way to celebrate the International Year of Literacy. Every year since then, the members of the MYRCA committee read and reflect on Canadian fiction that was  written for young people, in order to come up with the annual reading list. This list is available to everyone, and is a great way to promote reading and literacy.

Starting in March, any Manitoba student in grades 5 to 8 who has read at least 3 books on the list is eligible to  vote. These votes then determine which author will become the MYRCA winner for the year. The winning author gets the chance to come to Winnipeg to take part in the awards ceremony. Students from all across Manitoba take part, and it’s a momentous opportunity for students to meet the winning author in person, to ask questions and to present the prize. Past winners have included Kenneth Oppel, David Carroll, Susin Nielsen and Norah McClintock.

Check out this year’s list and you’ll be sure to find something for everyone, from laugh out loud hilarity to non stop hockey action and super scary science fiction.


Tank and Fizz: The Case of the Slime Stampede


Oh no! The cleaning slimes at Gravelmuck Elementary School have escaped and are leaving destruction in their path! Principal Weaver is sure that Mr. Snag, the beloved school custodian, is to blame.  Tank and Fizz, a goblin detective and his troll friend Tank are equally sure that he is innocent and set out to prove it.  Don’t forget to read the pictures in this very funny and somewhat slimy mystery.


Last Shot


Bryan ‘Rocket’ Rockwood has been drafted into the OHL for his skills, not his size. He’s the smallest player on the team, and his teammates and coaches don’t ever let him forget it. Rocket has the determination and the skills to make it in the NHL, but can he earn the respect of the coaches and the other players? Or should he give up his dreams for good?



The Scorpion Rules


The world has changed. Cities have been destroyed and empires have crumbled. The planet is now ruled by a supercomputer who has dictated that all of the ruling families must provide a child to be held as a hostage until their 18th birthday to ensure that the world will remain at peace.  Going to war means the death of a hostage.  Duchess Greta thought she was prepared to die, until she meets Elián….


There’s a lot more where this came from! You can find these titles, along with all of the others on this year’s list, at any public library or on the Overdrive site. So don’t delay, start reading today! Voting will begin on March 20, 2017, and close at midnight Wednesday, April 12, 2017. All eligible students can vote at the Winnipeg public library of their choice.

Now, when I say MYRCA you say: “Manitoba Young Readers Choice Award!”



Pun and Games

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

Edgar Allan Poe

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

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

This book will quack you up.

This book will quack you up.

In the end, the criminal gets his just desserts.

In the end, the criminal gets his just desserts.

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

Kids just wanna have pun!

Kids just wanna have pun.


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

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


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


Or to the Punitentiary

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

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

– Lori

Go Canada!


While I completely agree with the Thomas King quotation, I do admit to feeling that Canada is a place which sees more good writing per square kilometer than most.  There are so many great Canadian authors it’s hard to choose who to read next. At this time of year, though, the decision is easy, at least for me. It’s back to school season, which still speaks to the kid in me who will never graduate from the excitement and anticipation of the first day back. Canadian writers are as adept at writing for kids and teens as they are for adults. Don’t believe me? Check out some of the books listed below, and see how right I am.


The Dark Missions of Edgar BrimThe Dark Missions of Edgar Brim by Shane Peacock
Edgar couldn’t remember a time when he wasn’t terrified. From the time that he was a baby, and his father read him stories filled with monsters and demons, Edgar has been filled with fear. His only comfort was that the horrors in books were only imaginary… or were they? After the mysterious death of his father, Edgar is sent to boarding school, where he learns the truth about monsters, and how to fight them.


Darkest MagicThe Darkest Magic Cover by Morgan Rhodes

Crys and Becca Hatcher survived their encounters with magic and mages, and are hiding out in Toronto while they try to figure out what to do next. In Mytica, Maddox and Barnabas continue their quest to defeat the evil goddess Valoria. But their worlds will intersect once again, with disastrous results.


Shooter Shoot Cover imageby Caroline Pignat

For the five kids locked in stuffy bathroom the Friday afternoon lockdown was becoming routine, something they almost looked forward on boring Friday afternoons. After all, it was always a drill, just someone playing a prank. Until one of them gets a text: “OMG not a drill!” This time, there really is someone in the school with a gun, and he may have a partner nobody knows about.


The Skeleton TreeThe Skeleton Tree by Iain Lawrence

It was supposed to be fun, an adventure, a chance to miss some school. But the sailing trip along the coast of Alaska turned into a fight for survival for Chris and Frank, when a sudden storm sinks their boat. Stranded in the wilderness with no food or clothes, and no means to contact civilization, the boys must learn to work together if they want to get back home.


index1     Beware that Girl by Teresa Toten

Kate O’Brien is not who she seems to be. As a student at the exclusive Waverly School, she’s determined to parlay her scholarship status to become one of the in crowd, which will then lead her to Yale. Olivia Sumner was born to be a leader of the in crowd, yet she too has secrets. The two girls, so different, yet so much the same, come together to protect their pasts, and each other, from an outside threat that could defeat them both.

No matter how young or young at heart you are, reading a Canadian author is always a worthwhile experience.  So take off with me to the Great White (or Write) North, and experience for yourself how great it is to read Canadian.


What’s Your Style?


– Ignacio Estrada

At this time of year it seems odd to think about teaching and learning. There’s no school, it’s prime vacation time, and people are looking at ways to kick back and disengage their brains.  But knowing and understanding your learning style, whether you’re an adult or a child, can help you to make the most of your holidays and leisure time, not to mention making learning easier and more fun.

Studies have shown that learners can be grouped into three broad categories: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. So, if you’re a visual learner like me, you enjoy reading, looking at charts, maps and diagrams, and other visual media like photographs and paintings. If you prefer audiobooks, music, podcasts and live theatre you’re probably an auditory learner. The kinesthetic learners among us are those who prefer to actively take part in whatever is going on – hands-on demonstrations, interactive displays, and computer programs. They’re likely the person who tries new ways of doing things to see what happens. Not sure which category best fits visual.pngyour style? Try this easy exercise: imagine that you’re going on a long plane ride and you want to learn more about your destination before you arrive. You can only bring one item to do your research. What do you choose: a book to read, a book to listen to, or an interactive computer program? Whatever item you choose is a good indicator of your learning style.

Connecting with your learning style can not only help you learn better, it can enhance the quality of your leisure time. Take me for example, a visual learner. For my upcoming holidays, my list of things to do contains activities like taking in the travelling exhibit Anne Frank: A History for Today at the Millennium library, and planning my next trip using travel guides I’ve downloaded from Overdrive.

If you’re a fan of all things audio then take a listen to the audio books on Hoopla, or try the Naxos Jazz and  Naxos Music Library on our databases. Or you can check out the Tales at Night: Library Happy Hour at the Good Will Social Club where library staff will read aloud hot and sultry stories for your listening pleasure.

rositaLike to learn by doing? Join a cookbook or knitting club at a branch and share in the joys, sorrows, triumphs and tragedies that accompany these activities. Need to update your resume? Come to the Preparing a Resume program and learn how to showcase your skills.  Want to learn how to do almost anything? Check out lyndaLibrary, where you can find more learning opportunities than you’ve ever dreamed of.

Visual, audio, or kinesthetic, we’re all learning all the time. But knowing how you learn most effectively can save you a lot of time, effort and frustration. So, knowing what you know now, how are you going to learn next?


Signs of Spring

Spring won’t let me stay in this house any longer! I must get out and breathe the air deeply again. – Gustav Mahler

While Mahler is far better known as a composer than a writer, he has come up with a most eloquent statement about this time of year.  I do get out and about in the winter, but given even half a chance I’ll stay indoors. While the calendar optimistically declares that March 21st is the first day of spring that just doesn’t happen around here. Just as winter arrives a lot earlier than December 21st , spring arrives a lot later than March 21st.

The signs of spring are different for all of us, and  everyone has their own way of declaring that spring has arrived, from the sight of daffodils and tulips to taking the tarp off the boat. No matter what your sign of spring is or when it arrives, it all celebrates the same season.

bee friendly

You can’t “bee” unhappy in a garden.

If you’re a gardener, the season can commence as early as the day you start your seeds indoors. Thankfully spring eventually arrives for all of us not blessed with a green thumb.  Flowers or veggies, nothing says spring like doing some digging in the garden.

canadian gardening

This is what eating your veggies should be like.




A few hardy souls ride their bicycles all winter, although most people put away their two-wheeled transportation in the fall. And there are those who prefer four tires to two, but still retire their ride when the snow falls. If you need some guidance getting your summer cruising vehicle roadworthy, check out the Chilton’s Auto Repair database on the library website or some of our great books on bikes and motorcycles.

Personally, I prefer walking to riding, regardless of the number of wheels on the vehicle. Once the weather gets warmer and things start to get green, it’s time for me to dig out my hiking boots and take to the trails.

a swing

It don’t mean a thing if you ain’t got that swing.

Much as I enjoy a good walk, I find my enjoyment of it spoiled when I’m expected to chase a little white ball around a large open space with a long stick. But for the golfers among us, the best sign of spring is being able to dust off the clubs and take to the golf course.


curious george

This is the way I play golf!

I could go on – seeing and hearing the first robin, stepping outside with bare toes, putting away the snow shovel and taking out the lawn chairs, everyone has their own rituals to rejoice in at this time of year. How do you spring into spring?


First Rule of Book Club


Books are something social – a writer speaking to a reader – so I think making the reading of a book the center of a social event, the meeting of a book club, is a brilliant idea. – Yann Martel

People have gathered in groups to talk about books for hundreds of years. The invention of the printing press meant that books could be mass produced, instead of being written out individually by hand, so more books were available, which inevitably led to people talking about what they had read. Technological innovations impacted book clubs once again with the arrival of the internet, which allowed readers from all over the world to share their thoughts about what they had read. And, of course, there was Oprah’s book club, with a membership in the millions.

The book club experience means different things to different people. For some, it’s an opportunity to read something they would never have picked up on their own. For others, it’s the chance to delve more deeply into a book by sharing their thoughts and opinions, or by listening to other people’s insights and ideas. And in some cases, there’s the added bonus of snacks and beverages.

No matter what your reasons are for joining a book club, the Winnipeg Public Library  has something for you. We carry a wide range of book club kits to be checked out, for adults, teens and kids. These kits contain 10 copies of the book and discussion questions, all in one handy bag. Just add the snacks and beverages and you’re good to go! Book club kits have an extended loan period, and you can pick them up at whatever branch is most convenient for you. In addition to our selection of books for book clubs, we also offer books about book clubs.

Accidental Book Club

The Accidental Book Club by Jennifer Scott is the story of a group of very different women who find common ground in their love of reading. When unforeseen events bring problems to group, the book club members band together to get each other through tough times.


Falcon Book Club

For those who like mysteries and book clubs, Laura DiSilverio is a good choice. The book club members in Haven, Colorado meet monthly to solve the crimes in mystery novels, as well as doing some free-lance, real life investigating.



mother daughter book club

Book clubs aren’t just for grown-ups anymore. The Mother-Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick is about a group of 4 girls in the 6th grade who, along with their moms, read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Over time, the girls are startled to discover how much a book published in 1868 has to offer 21st century tweens.


prison book club

You can also find book clubs in unexpected places, like prisons. Ann Walmsley’s book Prison Book Club is an account of her involvement with a book club behind bars in a medium security prison. She gives a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the convicts during their incarceration, and the power of the written word to profoundly change lives that seemed beyond redemption.


So, before you attend your next meeting, I encourage all of you to abide by the unofficial first rule of book club at all times: always talk about book club.


Teen Spirit

I fantasize about going back to high school with the knowledge I have now.
Spalding Grey

I was a teenager when I first started working at the library,  a long time ago in what feels like a galaxy far, far away. At that time, most of the grown-ups browsing in the Young Adult section were in search of something for their kids to read. Fast forward several decades, and that’s all changed.

These days, with the huge success of series such as Twilight and the Hunger Games, adults are reading teen fiction in unprecedented numbers. While YA novels are written with adolescent protagonists, the story lines and concepts hold a great deal of appeal for all ages. Look at John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars – the humour and pathos we experience with Hazel and Gus transcends their chronological age. There’s an added appeal for me as a reader  in that reading YA fiction is like boarding a time machine and going into the past. I can revel in re-living how I felt and thought at that point in my life, with the added attraction of knowing that I never have to attend high school again.

elanor and parkEleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell is a book I would have loved when I was a teen, and that my inner adolescent still enjoys. The slowly unfolding relationship between Eleanor and Park that defies their parents and their peers is a romantic’s dream. The book is set in the 1980’s, so it gives a great hit of nostalgia for the music and fashions back in the day.


Cover image for Wildlings. Book one, Under my skinThe Wildlings series by Charles de Lint is great retroactive wish fulfilment for me. I remember yearning for the ability to morph into a totally different shape, and the teens in this series can do just that – change shapes from human to animal, and back again. But all is not sunshine and roses. The evil adults in the community are bent upon controlling the Wildings, and the teens are equally determined to remain free.

Cover image for The awakeningI’m a huge fan of Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld books, and her two YA series Darkest Powers and Darkness Rising gives the same thrills and chills, with ghosts, ghouls and things that go bump in the night, as well as teen crushes and worries about how to fit in at school. If your version of high school includes Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this is the series for you.

Cover image for We are all made of moleculesThere were a lot of great YA books published in 2015, but this one is one of my personal favourites. We are all made of molecules is the story of  two teens who move in totally different social circles at their high school. Stewart is a brainy, unpopular nerd, and Ashley scores high on popularity but low on grades. The two are forced to figure out how to interact with each other at home and at school when their parents move in together.

A good story is a good story, regardless of the age of the characters. Remember, Shakespeare’s Juliet was only 13 years old. So the next time you’re searching for a good book, have a look at young adult fiction and unleash your teen spirit.


Colour Your World

Color is my day-long obsession, joy and torment. – Claude Monet

In November, when the weather is getting colder, daylight is in short supply, and the world looks rather dreary, I find myself longing for colour. When I was a child I gloried in my colouring books and crayons, and my most prized possession (other than the contents of my bookcase) was my box of crayons, the one with 64 colours that came complete with a sharpener. Just opening the box and getting a whiff of that wonderful waxy fragrance was enough to make me happy. As I got older, I graduated to markers and posters, then later in life I re-acquainted myself with the joys of crayons, through colouring with children. I love the current trend of colouring books for adults – I can finally stop pretending that my stash of paper, crayons, markers, and pencil crayons are for the kids who come to visit.

Reading picture books is one quick and easy way to brighten the dullness that this time of year sometimes brings. There’s no shortage of beautifully illustrated children’s books in the library, so everyone can find a favourite. Two of my current top picks for livening up a grey day are Michael Hall and Todd Parr. Michael Hall’s use of shapes and colour to tell a story is intriguing, and the bold lines and even bolder colours in Todd Parr’s books never fail to bring a smile to my face.

My heart is like a zoo                   different

Looking at what artists and their imaginations have created is another wonderful way to bring colour into your life. Even though many of Lawren Harris’ works are of the far north, the colours he chose brings light, if not heat, to a frosty landscape. Don’t want to look at more winter? If warmer climates are more to your taste the incredibly vivid shades of Georgia O’Keeffe‘s desert paintings are a wonderful choice. For a change of scene, try  Henri Matisse‘s works, which burst with colour, joy and exuberance.

Hiker's guide           Henri Matisse

There’s virtually no limit to the colours, materials and techniques you can use to create your own work of art. Whether it’s Bob Ross’s happy little trees in oils, a portrait in watercolour, using a computer to create digital art, or just plain old crayons on paper, if you can come up with it, there’s a book or dvd out there that will help you create it.

Sometimes the use of colour can cause controversy. Check out Voice of Fire, the hotly debated purchase by the National Gallery of Canada. There are only 2 colours on the canvas, but the ongoing discussion ignited by this piece has been far from monochrome. Is it a brilliant piece of abstract art? Or an overpriced meaningless image ? You be the judge.

Pigments, dyes and paints have a fascinating saga of their own. Victoria Finlay has written two captivating books on the subject: Color: A Natural History of the Palette and The brilliant history of colour in art. Both of these books discuss the fascinating history behind various colors, the paints preferred by certain artists, and which artist reportedly ate his paint. There’s also the sometimes surprising materials that paints and dyes are made from, like the stinky shellfish used to make purple in Roman times and cochineal beetles, which make a unique shade of red.

Color a Natural History              brilliant history of color in art

There are many ways to appreciate colour and the joy it can bring to your life. So don’t wait any longer – open up that crayon box, take a deep sniff, and let your true colours come shining through today!



Why is a hard question to answer in any language.

Elizabeth Gilbert

There are a lot of big questions we ask ourselves and others.  Who am I? Where am I going? How will I get there? But perhaps the biggest question anyone can ask is “why”. “Why is this happening?” “Why is something the way it is?” And so on and so on. It’s been asked countless times, by countless people at all ages and stages of life. Singers, sages, and scientists have all asked this question. But has anyone arrived at a definitive answer? Or is just asking the question an answer in itself?

This book is a great choice for anyone looking for a reason to keep asking why.

This book is a great choice for anyone looking for a reason to keep asking why.

Anyone who has spent time with a small child (or has been one) has played the “why” game with the nearest grown-up. Asking adults “why” helps children to understand the world around them. It’s also an excellent way to delay bedtime. Sometimes, though, asking why can serve another purpose, like staving off an alien invasion, as Lilly does in Lindsay Camp’s hilarious picture book Why.



And for our inner child that needs a reason for everything...

And for our inner child that needs a reason for everything…

“Why do I need to know this?” is a question often asked by students, frequently followed by: “Will this be on the exam?” There’s an urban legend that a professor somewhere, sometime, gave an exam with only one question – “why”. Has this really ever happened or is it hearsay?  I’m not certain there’s an answer to that, but an article published in Maclean’s magazine a few years ago postulates that it could be the greatest exam question ever, or perhaps never, asked.

Singers are also notorious for asking why. Back in the 1950s Frankie Lyman and the Teenagers asked: “Why do fools fall in love?” for the first time, although not for the last. And, a few decades later, the Carpenters wanted to know: “Why do birds suddenly appear?” Have a listen on Hoopla for the answer to these  why questions.

Ev'ry time you are near...

Ev’ry time you are near…

Why do they fall in love?

Why do they fall in love?


A very good question...

A very good question…

Asking “why” is not only for children trying to make sense of the world. The search for the answer to this question carries on for us as adults. Some people, like scientists and philosophers, have made a career out of asking why.

And now, on a more philosophical note..

why there is something

This book answers a question I never thought to ask

This book answers a question I never thought to ask

When I did a title search in the WPL catalogue using the word why, I came up with a long, long list of titles on almost any topic someone could ask why about,  including some subjects that I had never considered.

An entire book on fantasy football...who knew??

Who knew fantasy football was so important







Looking for answers to the question “why” is a part of the human condition, one which has led to great discoveries, lengthy, heated debates, a lot of frustration and sleepless nights. Even with all of the vast amount of information and the ease of communication available today, I don’t think it can or will ever be  answered.

However, in the course of writing this I’ve run across a couple of answers. If you prefer one word responses you could go with “because”. Or, if you’re a parent it might be “because I said so”. If you’re a Douglas Adams fan, the answer could be 42.

As for my own personal answer to this question? I fall back on the perennial classic: “Why not?”


Get those old classics off the shelf

“Classic.” A book which people praise and don’t read.

Mark Twain

You can call me a relic, but I like classic literature. I enjoy a lot of contemporary authors, too, but for me there’s nothing like the books that have been around for hundreds of years. Summer vacation is my prime reading time, and I always leave room for some golden oldies on my holiday reading list.

A lazy day at the cottage or a leisurely afternoon in the backyard is a great time to savor some of the classics. You know the ones I mean – the titles that are touchstones for what is often considered great literature, the books you skimmed through for a school assignment, the ones you’re going to read someday when you get a chance. Reading the classics offers a great deal of insight into what’s being written today, and they are really enjoyable once you give them a chance.

Featured imageLeo Tolstoy is one of the biggies when it comes to important novels. War and Peace, Tolstoy’s painstaking recounting of the war Napoleon waged with Russia,  is a slow read, but most definitely worthwhile, and I’m not the only one who thinks so. Nelson Mandela considered War and Peace his favourite book of all time. A side benefit is that there’s nothing like a vivid description of a Russian winter to make you appreciate summer, mosquitoes and all.

Featured imageThe plots of Jane Austen’s novels have been told and re-told in many ways and many formats, but the experience of reading the originals is what enables you to really recognize the value of her writing. My personal favourite of her books is Pride and Prejudice, but I’d recommend any or all of them. Spoiler alert – Mr. Darcy doesn’t take a dip in the pond in the book as Colin Firth did so memorably in the movie. If you’re looking for a project, try finding all of the versions of Austen’s works that have been made into movies.

Featured imageF.Scott Fitzgerald’s novels are the perfect complement to a sunny day on the beach. His descriptions of the seaside in Tender is the Night, or the pool parties in The Great Gatsby provide a glimpse into a time and place not so different from today, only with far better fashions and no worries about sunscreen. Fitzgerald is a relatively modern author compared to Jane Austen or Leo Tolstoy, but his works still resonate in much the same way.

These books may be heavy on plots, themes and characters, but thanks to modern technology, they don’t need to add weight to your backpack or beach bag. Many of these works are available for free downloads through sites like Gutenburg.org  and the public domain titles on Overdrive. Or you can go with audio books, for road trips, long walks or while you’re gardening.

So whether you’re packing up for a week at the lake, a day at the beach or an afternoon in your backyard, why not dust off those old classics and bring them out into the sunlight? They may be old-fashioned, but they’re definitely not over the hill.