Going Against The Norm?

ugJust when you thought the world of picture books couldn’t change, along comes BUG IN A VACUUM by super Canadian children’s book author, Melanie Watt. Watt is famous for her fantastically original and funny SCAREDY SQUIRREL and CHESTER books, and now with BUG, she deals with the five stages of loss in a completely new way. What has she done? Written a 96-page picture book. 96 pages……and every single one of them is brilliant!

After discussing “typical” books with our writers here at the library, I am going to have to bring this to our next meeting to show them they can write outside the box…..if they do it right. Of course, Watt has a host of successful books to her name already, so doing something a bit different (a typical picture book is about 24 pages) is okay. Publishers are more willing to take a chance on a unique book when they know the author’s reputation will make sales.

All strange facts about this book aside, it is another unique and endearing story from Melanie Watt, spurred on by an adorable and ambitious little fly and a cute little dachshund waiting in the wings. Of course, the lessons learned about grief are also well addressed here, but children will love the story regardless of the message.

Looking for a great gift for a slightly older picture book reader? This is it. BUG IN A VACUUM will be one we can’t keep in the library for very long.

What is YOUR food?

food5.jpgWe all love food, but we all have our own favourites. Sure, there are many great cookbooks out there like the ones shown above, but what are the recipes you love the most? The ones you return to? The ones your Grandmother used to make? Instead of keeping millions of food-stained pieces of paper, why not put together a “Family Cookbook”, filled with the recipes that mean something to you and your loved ones, complete with stories and photos to accompany it!

What is a family cookbook?

A family cookbook is an ambitious undertaking. You’ll need at least a dozen recipes, and photos of the food once it is made. But if you’re looking for something unique and wonderful to give to special people in your life this holiday season, now is the time to start planning.

Why would anyone want to make a family cookbook?

It’s not simply about organizing your recipes…it’s a way to pass on favourites from generation to generation. And everyone has at least one wonderful cook in the family, so bring them in on it. They’ll be a big help!

How do you even begin?

First, gather up some recipes that you love. Ask family members for some of theirs, and talk to other family members about recipes they loved as children, and try to find similar recipes online.

Next, pick 10 – 12 favourites—–any more might be too ambitious for this project. Now, make sure the ingredients and directions are clear. Type out each recipe as its own word document and save.  You’ll need these later to upload to a book design program.

This is the hardest part. Ask someone who takes great photos to help. Check Instagram and Facebook for great food photos taken by your friends or family members at restaurants (everyone loves to take photos of their food, right?). You’ll need some good lighting, and a simple counter top. Now go and cook. Try to take the nicest photos of each dish that you can….make sure the plates are free of splatters, and that you take it from an angle that doesn’t look unappealing, or too shadowy.

Now all you have to do is upload everything to an online photo book design site, like Blurb, Shutterfly, or even your local Staples or Walmart. There are a variety of options and pricing you can choose from—just upload your photos and the word document recipes, and you can arrange everything the way you like it, including a cover!

This would be a great option for an “easy” gift for family. Print multiple copies and they’ll ship everything to you when it’s finished.

Give it a try…make your own Family Cookbook!

What Have You Read?

Recently, we were going through a listing on the CBC website about the “Top 100 Young Adult Books That Make You Proud to be Canadian” in order to find the perfect book for our very first Bridging the Generation Gap Book Club. When you thindust-220k about YA books, Canadian authors aren’t immediately the first ones to come to mind, but I think it surprised us as to how many of these we’ve already read.

Our Generation Gap Book Club doesn’t begin until November, but we’ve already picked the first selection…DUST, by Canadian author Arthur Slade. This is an ambitious, dark tale that will be sure to stir up plenty of conversation between our young readers and their parents.

But there are plenty more Canadian YAaspyinthehouse-220 books on this list that we found ourselves discussing.  Books like A SPY IN THE HOUSE by Y.S. Lee, part of “The Agency” series that was one of the Red Maple® selections in Forest of Reading a few years back. This is a great historical mystery that readers have applauded. Don’t worry, there are several in the series, so you won’t have to make due with just one story.

One of my favourites is PLAIN KATE by Erin Bow, a magical tale of a young wood carver who loses her beloved father and is accplainkate-220used of witchery. I know that after reading this tale to several Grade 4 & 5 classes, it would be the perfect fit for a book club discussion (bring your kleenex!).

Why not look through the list to see how many books from this list you’ve read. My score? I’m sad to say it’s very, very low. Guess I have a lot to catch up on!

Nerd Herd Gathering

28187This month, our Nerd Herd Teen Book Club has been reading Rick Riordan’s THE LIGHTNING THIEF, the first in the Percy Jackson series. We’re getting ready for our meeting today from 4-5:30pm, and we anticipate a lot of discussion about this one.

Will it be the first book we all agree on?

nerdIf you have teens aged 12 and up who would like to become a part of our Nerd Herd, they can drop by the meeting today–whether they’ve read the book or not–for some lively discussion, some crazy games…and snacks. Will there be blue cupcakes today? Only time will tell……

The Nerd Herd is getting ready for an exciting fall, including a Skype author visit with Kelly Loy Gilbert in October, and a party in late November. How could you not want to be a part of this?



Gearing up for fall, a lot of people are thinking about back-to-school lunches, and dinners for the family. This is a great time to gather up some new cookbooks from the library and try out new recipes. And we have a lot of fabulous books here to try out!

food2.jpgYou can find our catalog right here.

But the idea of trying out new foods got me thinking about the idea of eating differently altogether. While a lot of people look to become vegan, or vegetarians, it’s not an option for everyone. How about becoming a “reducetarian”? Haven’t heard of that? Me either, until recently.

It turns out, reducetarianism is a “new” movement focused on trying to eat less meat, not all meat or animal products. And to start, they recommend just giving it a go for 30 days. This is something totally doable, I think. And while cutting back on meat and animal products won’t totally win you a spot on the vegan team, it will bring about a lot of health benefits, simply because in order to reduce that meat option, you’ll likely add in more vegetables. It’s a win-win!

Thinking about giving it a go? Drop in and pick up some tasty new recipes for the fall, and see if you can find a few new options that don’t include meat. It’s a great challenge for fall.


Road Trip!

Photo by Sylwia Bartyzel

Photo by Sylwia Bartyzel

Summer is always a great time to take a road trip, and there are so many fantastic literary references to road trips that it’s about time someone put together a map to document each route.

I came across this fabulous post called “The Obsessively Detailed Map of American Literature’s Most Epic Road Trips” by Richard Kreitner. His parameters for including the trip on the map were exacting, and had to have a narrative arc that matched the geographical arc in order to be included. The results are amazing.

You can click on the routes (which intersect), pick a starting point, or find out the literary reference to a certain spot simply by clicking on the dot. He’s even organized the routes so that you can choose to see only one literary route at a time, which is fantastic. This map chronicals everything from WILD by Cheryl Strayed, to TRAVELS WITH CHARLEY by John Steinbeck.

If you’ve always wondered what a particular road trip must have looked like, take a few minutes to work through this detailed map. You won’t regret it, and I bet you’ll share this with friends.

Happy Road-Tripping!

Harry Potter Onstage

potterEarlier this summer, J.K. Rowling announced there would be a a Harry Potter play sometime soon. Although she isn’t writing the play herself, she wants fans to consider it part of the Pottermore legacy. But the big question everyone is asking is: what will it be about?

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is not supposed to be a prequel, but will tell a part of Harry’s story that we haven’t heard yet. Will it be about his time spent during summer vacation at home with the Dursleys? Or will it contain snippets of his life while at school that didn’t make it into the books?

Whatever the content, Harry Potter fans are sure to be thrilled that another “installment” of their favourite series is on the horizon.