Canada Reads 2016

The Canada Reads contenders have been announced, and it looks like they’re gearing up for a great debate! This year, the theme is “starting over”, and all of the books feature transformation or second chances, something I think we can all relate to in some way.

All of the books will be defended during the Canada Reads debates, which will take place from March 21-24, 2016. Each book is defended by a famous Canadian who will strive to make “their” book feel the most relevant, in order to earn votes. As well this year, there will be a social media panelist who will read the books and lead the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

This year, the books–and the celebrities defending them–are:


Adam Copeland defending MINISTER WITHOUT PORTFOLIO by Michael Winter.


Bruce Poon Tip defends BIRDIE by Tracey Lindberg


Clara Hughes will be defending THE ILLEGAL by Lawrence Hill


Farah Mohamed will defend BONE & BREAD by Saleema Nawaz

vinay-heoswalk-620And Vinay Virmani will defend THE HERO’S WALK by Anita Rau Badami.

You can find out more about Canada Reads, the authors, and the defenders at the Canada Reads website right here. It’s going to be an exciting event!


Can You Explain That to Me?

thingWhat is a “food heating radio box”? Or a “shared space house”? (A microwave, and the International Space Station, respectively.)

If you’ve ever wondered about things, any things, a fun new book by Randall Munroe called THING EXPLAINER: COMPLICATED STUFF IN SIMPLE WORDS, will give you the answers you’re looking for. Munroe takes everyday objects, and breaks down their purpose into a simple explanation, making even complex concepts easy to understand. You don’t have to be a scientist, and you don’t have to want to know a huge amount about anything in particular.

I picked this book up the moment it first came into the library, and couldn’t stop looking at it. The illustrations are creative, and the ideas are really fun. The best part? This is a non-fiction book for adults that looks like it should be for kids! Have some fun while you read.

Munroe really knows his stuff. A degree in physics, and a former builder of robots for NASA, he can delve into the nitty gritty and pull out the important information. But his new career as a comic illustrator for popular web comics, also assures you this book will be fun.

What do you want to learn about today?

Best Christmas Books

It’s that time of year, when people start looking for great books to read at night, especially when it gets cold and snowy outside (not that we have that problem, right now).  So when I came across this list of the 50 Best Christmas Books, I was curious about the suggestions.

christmasreadsThe list covers quite a few children’s books, because there are many more of those, of course, but it also has a nice selection of classics, and adult fiction. It left out the teens (and I know there are a few great books to be found there, too), but this is a great start.

Are there any Christmas books you’d recommend, or ones that you just have to read each winter?

There’s an app for that…

05BOOKAPP2-master180We’ve all been reading eBooks on our tablets, computers, and phones, but there’s a new option about to hit the market…a book app with extra digital content.

Metabook, a new eBook publishing company, decided to launch a brand new idea…releasing a book through an app instead of as a regular eBook. And to begin, they’ve started with a book written especially for the project by Wally Lamb called, I’LL TAKE YOU THERE, to be released next year.

Instead of making this book available in traditional ways, it will only be available through the app, which people will presumably have to purchase. Then, it will only allow apple users to download the book through iTunes and read it on the Metabook app.  It’s a risky option, but one that an established author such as Wally Lamb can probably afford. However, this isn’t just an eBook…it’s an interactive reading experience.

Along with the book, Lamb has the option of adding digital commentary, playlists, photos and much more to the app to allow readers a multi-media experience like no other. While it might be a new idea, it sounds like something that readers will love once it becomes a little more mainstream.

If you want to read more about Lamb, Metabook, and the app, you can find a great article about it here.

The William C. Morris Prize

ConvictionIn October, our Nerd Herd Teen Book Club read CONVICTION by Kelly Loy Gilbert, and then were excited to be able to participate in a live Google Hangout with the author to discuss the book. It was a great afternoon, and we were thrilled that she took the time to talk with all of us. You can read more about our experience here.

And now, we’d thrilled that Ms. Loy’s book has been nominated for the prestigious William C. Morris Debut Award, given through the American Library Association celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature. Hers is one of five amazing debut books in 2015, including:

finalistsBECAUSE YOU’LL NEVER MEET ME, by Leah Thomas




CONVICTION by Kelly Loy Gilbert

The award winners will be announced in 2016, so stay tuned!  This is going to be a tough race to the finish line. Congratulations to all of the nominees!

THE PASSAGE Trilogy is Coming to an End.

city-of-mirrors-coverIf you’ve been following Justin Cronin’s Passage trilogy, it’s finally coming to end, with the release of THE CITY OF MIRRORS on May 24, 2016. The first two books, THE PASSAGE, and THE TWELVE, were massive tomes, so if you need a refresher before the final installment, now is the time to re-read. Maybe some holiday downtime?

And if you aren’t familiar with this series, let me just say….vampires.

Seeing as we were weeding our collection at the library recently and found that some of the TWILIGHT books had not circulated in quite some time, maybe vampires have gone out of fashion. Or maybe it’s simply sparkly vampires that aren’t drawing our attention anymore. Whatever the reason, I’m pretty sure Cronin’s books have a following strong enough to carry him through to the end of this series. And what….there are rumours of a movie? We’ll have to wait and see……

Richard Scarry—Revamped!

Oh, how I used to love Richard Scarry books as a child. My joy at lots of tiny little things to look at all at once was fostered in these books, I believe. And now, Scarry’s books are getting a much-needed update, but not because the art is outdated.

Scarry’s BEST WORD BOOK EVER is a collection of great pictures and words to help an emergent reader start to make the connection between words and pictures. But as this book was originally published in 1963 (and updated once in 1991), some of the items needed to be changed to make it less offensive and more inclusive.  And just how could a child’s book be offensive? It’s not what you think.

Consider the pages from the book, before and after.

book1In the photo on the left, Mother is working in kitchen making dinner. Back in the 1950’s, this would have been totally appropriate. But in today’s world, the updated version shows Mom and Dad both working in the kitchen…a job not designated strictly by gender.

More socially acceptable items were substituted as well, to avoid stereotyping a group of people.

book2It turns out, a lot of women were upset by the fact that women were always shown in dresses, and doing “traditional jobs”, such as being a nurse, or teacher. Never was the construction worker shown to be a woman in these illustrations, so the update has a more balanced approach.

Does this really matter? And if it does, who does it matter to more—the parents reading the books, or their children? Maybe both. Children need to see themselves in the books they read, and also recognize their own potential. Parents must also feel comfortable with this, and avoiding the problematic original illustrations, they can proudly share the books with their children and avoid questions they might have trouble explaining.

You can read much more about how Richard Scarry’s book has changed right here.