Black History Month

We have class visits from local schools during the week, and recently, one of the classes was studying important figures for Black History Month. While I had books on people like Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, and Harriet Tubman, there was a definite gap in fiction to put out. Books written by African American authors, and books that represent young people of colour are something that should be easily found on the shelves.  Books like:

brownBROWN GIRL DREAMING, a National Book Award Winner in 2014 by Jacqueline Woodson, is middle grade fiction, telling the story of Woodson’s life, in verse.

pointePOINTE by Brandy Colbert was named Best Book of the Year in 2014 by many of the larger magazines and book reviewers. It’s got the ballet world to draw from, but also contains secrets and the darker side of life, perfect for those YA readers who are looking for something a bit gritty and true to life.

chaosTHE CHAOS by Nalo Hopkinson is the story of Scotch, a sixteen-year-old who feels like she doesn’t fit into any category…even more so when her skin becomes covered with a black, sticky substance she can’t remove. Fans of fantasy will enjoy this YA read.

Most of these books and more are available to download as eBooks through OverDrive, using your library card and PIN. Drop by the library today if you need help logging in, or choosing a great selection to celebrate Black History Month!

Where Have You Been?

150122114524-01-dr-seuss-0122-super-169Last week marked the 25th anniversary of OH, THE PLACES YOU’LL GO by Dr. Seuss. Not only is this a popular children’s book, but it has become a standard gift for recent graduates. Not only does the book have a message of encouragement, but it tells the truth–that times won’t always be easy, and that not all things will go your way.  You might think that’s harsh information for children, but it’s something that rings true no matter what your age.

Written by Theodor Geisel (better known as Dr. Seuss) during the last months of his life, it is thought that he was reflecting upon his own life and career, and wanted to pass on the lessons he learned. It is believed that this is the last book he worked on from start to finish, with several more books being released after this death, those of which were either completed by someone else, or the editing took place afterward.

Geisel always said he never wrote for children. “I write for people,” and this book demonstrates the huge crossover appeal that will probably continue for many years to come. The book is also being released in various formats, this year for babies (OH, BABY, THE PLACES YOU’LL GO), so you might want to pick one of those up for the new parents in your life.

What a lovely way to finish off a career! Thank you, Dr. Seuss.

Station Eleven

StationElevenHCUS2While we’re in Toronto this week, I plan on digging into the audiobook of Emily St. John Mandel’s STATION ELEVEN. I have been meaning to read this for some time, and wouldn’t you know it, the moment I get ready to leave for a library conference, I’m right in line for the download. Seeing as this novel begins during an unprecedented flu epidemic in Toronto, I don’t know if this is good timing or not. One thing for sure, after listening to only a few chapters so far, I’m hooked!

STATION ELEVEN begins during a production of King Lear, when a famous Hollywood actor who has waited his whole life to play the lead role, dies onstage suddenly. In the middle of this terrible event, a young man who tried to help him, receives news from a friend that a Georgian Flu epidemic has arrived in Toronto, and is causing massive deaths. He is urged to get out of town…immediately.

While this book moves back and forth through time, telling several stories at once, it centers around twenty years in the future, when 99% of the population has been killed off, and now, a theatre company called the Traveling Symphony performs for those living in leftover colonies. An intriguing premise, that promises to link the arts world with the concrete world that none of us would recognize.

Emily St. John Mandel’s post-apocalyptic novel is so lyrical, and yet draws you in to this devastating time and place no one could possibly predict. I can’t wait to really get into it this week. I’m sure it’s going to be one of my favourite books this year.

Have you read it? Are you tired of post-apocalyptic novels? Do you think this is a unique take on the subject matter? Let us know what you think!

Letters of Note

I came across an interesting website called “Letters of Note” that collects fascinating letters and correspondence by famous and not-so-famous people. Recently, they posted a letter written by author Kurt Vonnegut to a class of students who were assigned to write a letter to their favourite author. The reply is wonderful.

November 5, 2006

Dear Xavier High School, and Ms. Lockwood, and Messrs Perin, McFeely, Batten, Maurer and Congiusta:

I thank you for your friendly letters. You sure know how to cheer up a really old geezer (84) in his sunset years. I don’t make public appearances any more because I now resemble nothing so much as an iguana.

What I had to say to you, moreover, would not take long, to wit: Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.

Seriously! I mean starting right now, do art and do it for the rest of your lives. Draw a funny or nice picture of Ms. Lockwood, and give it to her. Dance home after school, and sing in the shower and on and on. Make a face in your mashed potatoes. Pretend you’re Count Dracula.

Here’s an assignment for tonight, and I hope Ms. Lockwood will flunk you if you don’t do it: Write a six line poem, about anything, but rhymed. No fair tennis without a net. Make it as good as you possibly can. But don’t tell anybody what you’re doing. Don’t show it or recite it to anybody, not even your girlfriend or parents or whatever, or Ms. Lockwood. OK?

Tear it up into teeny-weeny pieces, and discard them into widely separated trash recepticals. You will find that you have already been gloriously rewarded for your poem. You have experienced becoming, learned a lot more about what’s inside you, and you have made your soul grow.

God bless you all!

Kurt Vonnegut

Go to the site to see the original letter. It is wonderful, as is the signature!

Creative? Read this!

BuzzFeed has put together another fabulous list, this time with 37 Books Every Creative Person Should Be Reading.

creativeThere are plenty of wonderful books on this list—books for writers, books for people who like to make things, books by actors, directors, artists and business people. But don’t just pick up the books that apply to your line of work. The whole idea about creative thinking is to look outside the box and come up with new ways of doing things. There are so many great books on this list, I don’t know where to start…..maybe at #1.

Drop into the library to pick one up, if you’re interested. We have a few from the list, and we can always do an interlibrary loan for anything you might want to read. If your New Year’s resolution is to try new things or turn your creative hobby into a career, these are a must. Happy reading!

Illustrated Harry Potter

 Illustration by Jim Kay © 2014 by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

Illustration by Jim Kay © 2014 by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

It seems that Harry Potter will never go out of style at the library. Each generation produces a new group of readers, and along with the movies, they are constantly in circulation. It’s about to get exciting again.

Scholastic will release a fully illustrated version of HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE on October 6, 2015, will illustrations by Kate Greenaway Medal winner, Jim Kay. And just this week, the publishing house released several of the illustrations as a teaser. The one above is Hogwarts, of course.  You can see the full images here.

Scholastic plans on releasing each book in the series in an illustrated version, one per year. If the rest of the illustrations are as gorgeous as these, you might want to invest in collecting the whole series again. I don’t think you’ll be sorry you did.

How To Finish a Book

safe_image.phpNeil Gaiman, author extraordinaire, gives some advice to a fan who would also like to write a book, but is having trouble getting things down on paper. I thought this was appropriate, consider we’ve had so many writers working on books in our library this past year. If only they’d known this before!

Write the ideas down. If they are going to be stories, try and tell the stories you would like to read. Finish the things you start to write. Do it a lot and you will be a writer. The only way to do it is to do it.

I’m just kidding. There are much easier ways of doing it.

 

To find out the easier way of doing things, click this link to visit the article on his Tumblr page.

What did you think of his advice? Frankly, it’s brilliant.