Blog - Library Services Centre

Who among us wouldn't prefer to be walking the cobbles of Dublin, letting a day slip by in the fields of Cork, or getting in a pedantic argument about the occurances of snakes on the Emerald Isle? As much or more a sign of spring than waiting for groundhogs to make wild pronouncements about weather patterns, St. Patrick's Day is that time of year when we can all embrace a little Irish in ourselves. So, we went around the office and asked everyone, what are some of your favourite Irish authors, stories, and fictions?

 

Lesley H - Of course, the quintessential modern classic of Irish literature is Angela's Ashes, Frank McCourt’s memoir following his family’s forced emigration from America back to Ireland. The book was an instant hit twenty three years ago, and was followed by a film adapation and two sequels: 'Tis and Teacher Man

 

 

Lee-Ann B. - The trinity of Great Irish authors are, of course, James Joyces, WB Yeats, and Jonathan Swift. If you are looking for the classics, these are the authors to look at first.

 

Linda F - I’d suggest Days Without End by Sebastian Barry.  It seems weird for this Irish author to be writing about the American West, but the book is wonderfully written, just so full of vigor and life despite the horrors it depicts (maybe sustained by the humanity of the narrator).  A short, muscular, intense book that seems very American in spite of its Irish author.

 

Carrie P - Dublin Murder Squad is a fantastic series, each focusing on a different detective in the Dublin police homicide division. And, written by an American living in Dublin. Brooklyn is an arresting period piece that was also adapated into a film. And anything by the master of wit, Oscar Wilde.

 

Karrie V - My family is very Irish, so I have grown up watching Irish movies. My favourite movie of all time is Darby O’Gill and the Little People, where Sean Connery sings! Some others that are good include Philomena, Quiet Man, Far and Away, HungerSecret of KellsMy Left FootWind That Shakes the Barley, In the Name of the Father, and Commitments.

 

Rachel S - I read Maeve Binchy for years- one of my favourites being Circle of Friends. And of course, the author of our favourite vampire Dracula - Bram Stoker

 

Nancy B - Indulgence in Death by J.D. Robb, in which Eve Dallas' Irish vacation is disturbed by a murder.

 

Kirk O - For a historical fiction book about Ireland, I love Trinity by Leon Uris. Uris always has strong characters around pivotal historic events and this book delivers that as well.  From the Irish famine to the uprising in 1916, this tells the story of Conor Larkin and his family.  It was so good I have actually read it three times over the years, making a trinity myself.  And if anyone is planning a visit, as I did in 2018, and loves Guinness as I do, the tour of the St. James’s Gate Brewery was a highlight. A few pints overlooking Dublin is a great way to spend an hour. Perhaps reading Pint-Sized Ireland: In Search of the Perfect Guinness by Evan McHugh, an Australian travelling Ireland in search of a perfect pint.  

 

Michael C - I'm going to go way off the beaten path here and recommending Grabbers, a comedy horror film in which an idyllic remote Irish island is invaded by enormous bloodsucking tentacled aliens. I'm also going to recommend the works of director/playwrite Martin McDonagh; specifically the mobster dramedy In Bruges. Also his brother John Michael McDonagh's film Calvary .

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter, and to subscribe to our new YouTube Channel. We also encourage you to subscribe to the weekly Green Memo, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

Sláinte mhaith!

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I love language. I am effervescent in its multitudes.  I rejoice, exclaim, wallow, and exult in the verisimilitude of the vernacular. I delight in dialects, pontificate on puns, saturate in slang, and generally gestate in grammar. Often, I have been accused of using ten words when three would do, because why wouldn’t you take the opportunity to run wild with syntactic abandon when given the chance?

 

Of particular interest to me is the history of language. Where do our words come from? How has time and history and culture shaped the way the world pushes air out of its throat and rolls it across its tongue. It’s all well and good for the Académie française to try to keep French on the straight and narrow. But what about English, who is more likely to push another language into a dark alley and “borrow” some loan words? And it still comes out short compared to German, which produces words like Treppenwitz, literally “stair case joke”, for the comeback to a joke or insult that you don’t think of until later.

 

Reading for me can be a laborious task, as I’ll be working merrily through a text when suddenly I’m jolted out of the narrative by an errant word. What is this delightful collection of syllables, I’ll think? What precise congress of meanings have crafted such an expression? And off I’ll pop to look up its etymology. And where better to start than that trusted friend, the dictionary?

 

In the world of words, consistency of meaning is key to understanding. If we don’t all agree that the word “horse” means a large, four legged mammal with a long face and mane, then a trip to the farm is going to get very confusing very quickly. Enter the Dictionary, that compendium of terminology which keeps us on the same page. A concise definition of every word in the language. A thing of beauty.

 

But definition is only half the work. The other half is context. Knowing not just what a word means, but when it is appropriate to use are the cardinal ingredients in a delicious language recipe (garnished liberally with grammar, of course). Which is why dictionaries include something that you may have overlooked, or don’t pay that much attention to: an example of use. For examples, From the Collins Dictionary:

 

Certificate - An official document that you receive when you have completed a course of study or training. The qualification that you receive is sometimes also called a certificate. Ex. To the right of the fireplace are various framed certificates.

 

One person who didn’t overlook these snippets of speech was author Jez Burrows, who developed an ambitious plan: to write short stories comprised of just the example lines from dictionaries. To hear him tell it, he started by compiling a massive catalogue of every example line from a range of dictionaries, then sorted them into groups, including those that feature a person doing an action, or emoting, or the rarest of all, speaking. Treasured were sentences describing the condition of an object.

 

Taking all these disconnected, brief and context-lacking lines, Jez strung them together into short tales of absurdity, suspense, and melancholic beauty. What were once pieces of linguistic illustration become “I began to speak, but stopped short at the look on the other woman's face. It was not prudent to antagonize a hired killer.” Those line comprised of entries from the Collins English Dictionary and New Oxford American Dictionary.

 

I am in love with this idea. Creating a jigsaw of story from the leavings of language; putting to work the orphans of description. These brief lines, once stagnating on the dictionary page have found bizarre and unexpected new purpose under Jez’s direction. It seems to me to be a form of linguistic collage, part and parcel with gluing sea shells and pine cones onto a picture frame. This concept seems tailor made for the era of Twitter and the character limit, but Jez has collected his foundlings and knitted them together into a tome entitled Dictionary Stories: Short Fictions and Other Findings.

 

A brisk read, but surprisingly soulful and elegant, and a love letter to language. A perfect companion to a snowy winter evening, or to share betwixt friends. A meal made of morsels has never tasted as sweet or been as filling. More about Jez and his work is available at http://www.dictionarystories.com/.

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter, and to subscribe to our new YouTube Channel. We also encourage you to subscribe to the weekly Green Memo, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

Yours, Fictionally

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If you asked most people, the one thing they’d wish for other than more money is time. Regardless of your position in life, time is finite. There is only so much time in one lifetime and we always wish for more of it. From the time we are children asking to stay up for just five more minutes, there is never enough of it.

 

The exploration of mortality is a popular subjects in fiction, and was a central theme in the ancient Greek myths and epics, filled with immortal gods and demigods. In the 19th century, Bram Stoker gave us the immortal vampire Dracula, and Oscar Wilde examined the quest for eternal life in his gothic novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. Dorian sells his soul in exchange for eternal youth and his portrait, not Dorian will age. Through his portrait, he comes face-to-face with his true self, and everything cumulates in a brutal but fitting end.

 

These themes have also extended to several recently published novels, and examine immortality from a more philosophical perspective. One of my favourite reads this year is the sleeper hit How to Stop Time  by Matt Haig. Thanks to a rare condition that has drastically slowed the aging process, 41-year-old Tom Hazzard has been alive for 439 years. While he could die from a gunshot wound, he’ll never get sick, and he could be a thousand years old by the time he could die of old age. 

 

This condition also means he has to start his life over somewhere else every 8 years or so when the people around him notice that he isn’t getting any older. He's also not allowed to fall in love. After all, forming attachments means he risks exposing not only his secret, but his heart.

 

One of the things I loved most about this novel was the way Haig explored the positives and negatives of being immortal. On the upside, he pretty much has all the time in the world to explore the things that interest him. How many times have you wished you had enough time to learn a particular skill or to pursue a hobby? Tom loves music, and having unlimited time has allowed him to master 30 instruments.

 

Tom has also lived history we can only read about. From the plague to wars to massive generational shifts, he’s seen it all. He’s played with Shakespeare, dined with F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, sailed with Captain Cook, and encountered countless other popular figures in history. Fittingly, Tom’s current job is a history teacher, and not surprisingly, he’s pretty good at it.

 

There are also some lighter moments in the book such as when Tom muses over what birthdate to put on his Facebook profile, realizing that 1581 just isn’t going to work.

 

On the down side, being a literal old soul makes him an outsider and has effectively forced him into a permanent exile.  Anybody he once loved is gone, and he can’t get close to anyone because they would eventually realize that he didn’t look a day older and risk exposing him. Aside from the fact that most people would think he was certifiable if he tried to explain, there is a genuine danger that he could be turned into a lab rat and exploited by those who would try to profit from his condition.

 

The book really made me wonder if given the choice, would I choose to live forever. While I definitely wouldn’t want to be a child or a teenager forever, I wouldn’t mind being frozen in my 30s or 40s. Having all the time in the world to do everything I want to do (like making a substantial dent in my to-be-read pile) is an attractive prospect. I’d also love the opportunity to see how the world will evolve over the next several centuries, but not if I can’t share it with anybody. Not keeping any friends or putting down roots somewhere would be a deal breaker, as wood having to say so many goodbyes.

 

A new book called Samuel Johnson’s Eternal Return by Debut author Martin Riker takes a different take on immortality, and it’s getting a lot of buzz.

 

The book starts with Samuel Johnson waking up in the body of the man who killed him. Unable to die, when one body expires he jumps to another, all the while searching for a way to get back to the son he left behind.

 

This idea fascinates me and it seems like a much more interesting and less lonely way to live forever. Sure, there’s always a possibility of getting stuck in a crappy body, but imagine being able to literally view the world through somebody else’s eyes! He’d also probably be the only person who could say he’s lived a thousand lives and mean it, which also has its perks. Comical and philosophical, it is a unique take on an old theme, and is worth checking out!

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter, and to subscribe to our new YouTube Channel. We also encourage you to subscribe to the weekly Green Memo, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

Happy Reading!

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Remember back in the early nineties, when The Simpsons joked that the Grammy Award was a disposable and meaningless award? 26 years later, that sort of opinion continues to dog what is meant to be the preeminent award for music. On Sunday, February 10th, the 61st annual Grammy Awards were celebrated and were no stranger to controversy both on and off stage.

 

This year, the Grammy’s were hosted by R&B singer Alicia Keys. Keys opened the ceremony alongside Lady Gaga, Jada Pinkett Smith, Jennifer Lopez and surprise guest Michelle Obama. Performances throughout the night included Post Malone with the Red Hot Chili Peppers (amazing!) as well as Dolly Parton singing my favorite song Jolene with goddaughter - and newly married - Miley Cyrus.  

 

The opening performance was on fire, with Camilla Cabello singing her hit single ‘Havana’ alongside Ricky Martin and J Balvin.  During the performance, Balvin could be seen off to the side, holding up a newspaper with the headline ‘Build Bridges, Not Walls’; an obvious but subtle political statement regarding the current issue surrounding the US Border. 


This year’s winner for Record of the Year was This is America by Actor turned Hip Hop artist, Childish Gambino (AKA Donald Glover). This is the first time ever that a Hip Hop song has one in this category.  This is America was also the winner for Song of the Year and Best Rap/Sung Performance. The single was released in 2018; there is rumor that the song will be included in the artist’s full album, releasing mid-2019. 

 

Another surprise win went to Kacey Musgraves for her 2018 Album Golden Hour, which won an astonishing 4 awards. The awards which Musgraves won for this album were: Album of the Year, Best Country Solo Performance, Best Country Song, and Best Country Album.  It is not often that a Country album takes home Album of the Year, so this was a good win for the Country music genre.

 

Best new artist went to Dua Lipa, a rising star from the UK.  Along with this award, Lipa won Best Dance Recording for her song Electricity, a collaboration with Silk City. Songs such as IDGAF and One Kiss (alongside Calvin Harris) shine the light on Lipa’s talent. Dua Lipa’s debut album released in June 2017, and was in Rolling Stone’s 20 Best Pop Albums of 2017.

 

The award for Best Pop Vocal Album went to Ariana Grande. Despite it being her first ever Grammy win, Grande did not attend the awards ceremony. Prior to the ceremony, Grande had taken to social media to voice her concerns and frustrations about her pending Grammys performance. She had made statements referencing some disagreements with producers over her set list. Grande had an emotional year in 2018, losing her ex-boyfriend Mac Miller to a drug overdose, and shortly after, breaking up with fiancé Pete Davidson. Here’s hoping 2019 brings her peace and further success.

 

Winning posthumously for Best Rock Performance was Chris Cornell for the song When Bad Does Good. This award was announced at the pre-show telecast, and was accepted by Cornell’s two children, daughter Toni, 14, and son Christopher, 13. The two gave a beautiful speech honoring their late father. Cornell died May 27, 2017 due to suicide. Chris Cornell was an amazing musician and vocalist, and his music will forever be part of my life.

 

Canadian superstar Drake won Best Rap Song for his hit God’s Plan. Drake accepted his award with a controversial speech that ended up getting cut off. Drake told his fans, along with everyone else listening, that it is not just the awards that make someone a success, but the people singing your songs and buying your concert tickets. I might not personally be a fan of Drake’s, but I thought his message was bang-on.

 

Finally, the award for Best Rap Album went to Cardi B, for her upcoming album release Invasion of Privacy. While Rap music isn’t my favorite genre, Cardi B is definitely one of my favorite celebrities. She is loud and outspoken, but she is also a very real person. She may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but you have to love her honesty and humility.

 

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter, and to subscribe to our new YouTube Channel. We also encourage you to subscribe to the weekly Green Memo, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

Happy listening!

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There is little Canadians like to talk about more than the weather. And for good reason: those of us in Ontario have seen snow squalls with 50km/h winds, +10 degree weather and everything melting, showers, and a freezing rain system that shut down universities, major roads and even some libraries. All within the past two weeks! Of course we want to talk about this craziness!

 

According to a 2014 report from Influence Communications, news stories in Canada were 229% more likely to focus on the weather than anywhere else in the world.  The biggest reason behind this is that we are an enormous country with varying climates; where the Maritimes might get a blizzard, southern Ontario might be completely clear and Vancouver probably has rain.

 

Regular weather doesn’t usually get that much attention, but we do love reading and talking about extreme weather and natural disasters.  With the advent of social media, we’re able to get weather updates in real time from both professional meteorologists and storm hunters, and from people all over the country.  Of course, this also means every time Toronto gets a snowstorm, someone brings up the army digging them out (dear rest of the country: get over it).

 

Personally I love a good storm, though as a nervous driver I prefer a summer thunderstorm over ice and snow.  There’s something almost energizing about stormy weather and seeing the power of nature.  This has also led to watching a number of terrible disaster movies (Geostorm, I’m looking at you) but I don’t hold it against the weather.

 

Of course, bad weather brings with it dangerous conditions and storm safety is important to know, especially for kids.  In July, Beech Street Books will release a series of books on disasters and storm safety, focused specifically on Canada.  Books in the series include Snow and Ice Storms, Tornadoes, and Floods.  Although spring is approaching (allegedly…) natural disasters can occur at any time of year.

 

We get help from man’s best friend when dealing with some disasters and nasty weather.  In the mountains of British Columbia, dogs are trained to help first responders rescue people trapped in avalanches.  One of these dogs is Henry the Border Collie, who works with a team based in Whistler.  When not searching for avalanche victims, he also helps clear both black bears and Canada geese away from inhabited areas.

 

Although our winter weather gets a lot of attention, our summer weather can bring both thunderstorms and tornadoes, mostly in the stretch between Saskatchewan and Quebec.  Manitoba has the distinction of Canada’s first (and so far, only) F5 tornado, Elie in 2007.  I was in Toronto during the 2009 tornado outbreak that saw two tornadoes touch down in Vaughan; although I was safely in North York at the time, I still remember just how black the sky was and how strong the lightning and winds. And last year, Ottawa was surprised by a disastrous tornado that they are still feeling the effects of.

 

We all saw Twister and, bellowing tornadoes and flying cows aside, the movie had some decent storm science in it.  DOROTHY was based off the 1980s TOTO project, and storm chasers really do exist (and run tours).  Tornado science has continued to improve, and in 2003 scientists in South Dakota were able to deploy instruments to study the interior of a tornado for the first time.  This increased knowledge can help meteorologists and weather scientists predict dangerous storms sooner, potentially saving lives.

 

One of these scientists is Robin Tanamachi, featured in the book Tornado Scientist: Seeing Inside Severe Storms. Tanamachi and her team spend their summers driving around the United States heartland in a Doppler radar truck, chasing tornadoes.  The data she and other storm chasers collect is modelled on computers, improving our collective knowledge of how, when, and where tornadoes happen.

 

Unfortunately, we can’t talk about the weather and natural disasters without also touching on climate change.  Climate change brings unpredictable weather, which means an increase in extreme conditions.  Recent evidence indicates that our trouble with the dreaded polar vortex over the past few years can be attributed to climate change; specifically that the increasing warmth in the Arctic is upsetting the jet stream, causing it to kink – and bring that cold Arctic air down to the rest of us.

 

Kids (or adults; no judgment) can learn more about climate change with PowerKids Press’s Climate Change, part of the Spotlight on Weather and Natural Disasters series.  Staying informed is the best way to combat any issue, whether it affects our entire world or just how many layers one should put on when leaving in the morning.

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter, and to subscribe to our new YouTube Channel. We also encourage you to subscribe to the weekly Green Memo, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

Enjoy!

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The adaptation of books to a movie or television format is tricky. On the one hand, there is an expectation that the movie should and will follow the original source material closely. On the other hand, a visual medium is a very different animal than print, and for a variety of reasons, it’s impossible to literally adapt a book word-for-word to film or television.

 

One of the biggest challenges of course is time. While there are no set limitations for the length of a book, there absolutely are for screenplays. The average movie runs two hours or less, and a 400+ page book isn’t going to fit in its entirety.  Movies force a streamlining that often results in sub-plots and minor characters being cut.

 

Another challenge of books-to-movies is finding a way to capture the interior monologue of a character, particularly when the story is told from that person’s point of view. Limited voice-over narration is great, but nobody wants to watch two hours of narration. That’s called an audio book- not a movie. This was a particular challenge for the TV adaptation of Stephen King’s novel Under the Dome, which had a lot of characters who spent a lot of time thinking. In the end, some characters were combined or left out, action was stretched out over months and not weeks, and the writers had to find ways to transform thoughts into something more visual.

 

Ready Player One took eight years to make it to the screenThe novel primarily takes place in a virtual reality world, and contains numerous pop cultural references to movies and video games (including to director Steven Spielberg’s own films) which had to be cut. Then there was the added difficulty of finding a way to faithfully recreate the book’s numerous locations. Trying to build sets for all of them would have astronomically expensive, but thanks to computer generated backgrounds and motion capture technology, they made it work. 

 

The 2018 Rom-Com Crazy Rich Asians is an example of a film that managed to stay loyal to the text, but author Kevin Kwan admits that the books delve much deeper into the world of the movie and the characters. There were also a few character changes, pared down plot points, and some added scenes that weren’t in the book, but all were done with Kwan’s approval.

 

Ann Patchett’s novel Bel Canto had a much longer path to the big screen (16 years), but the recent adaptation starring Julianne Moore stays pretty true to the book and has the benefit of an all-star cast and enduring source material.

 

I have a love/hate relationship with adaptations.  An adaptation can either be great (ie Harry Potter), or awful (such as the 2017 adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower). Adapting a book for screen is no easy feat, but if the changes are so drastic that it has nothing in common with the book except for the name, it’s disappointing for both the writer and fans of the novel.

 

Then there’s the question of whether to read the book before or after seeing the movie. If I read the book first, I go into the movie with complete familiarity with the story and my own vision of what the character should look like. If the casting is too far off (as many felt was the case with Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher) or if the story veers too far from the source material, it’s difficult for me to enjoy the film as its own medium.

 

Seeing the movie before I read the book allows me to enjoy the movie as a movie, but once I’ve seen the movie, I’m reading the book with the movie in mind, and I'm constantly comparing the two. At the same time, seeing a movie adaptation first can inspire me to read the book, and in that case, I've been introduced to a great book I might never have read otherwise. 

 

Once in a very rare while, a movie adaptation is considered to be equal to or better than the books. Many people view the movie version of The Princess Bride as being as good as or better than the book, despite being different from the book. William Goldman was an accomplished screenwriter and adapted his own work for the screen which helps, but it’s a perfect example of both formats being enjoyed and appreciated on their own merits.

 

I also much prefer the Swedish film version of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to the book. I felt that the movie did a great job of paring the story down to the most important elements and had better pacing then the book. The novel is nearly 500 pages long, and it definitely could have been similary streamlined. 

 

This coming year, we can look forward to adaptions of Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale, Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go Bernadette, A.J. Finn’s Woman in the Window and more, and I know I will be watching every single one of them with a critical eye and comparing them to the book.  

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter, and to subscribe to our new YouTube Channel. We also encourage you to subscribe to the weekly Green Memo, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

Happy reading!

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LSC is proud to announce that we can now provide educational toys and low-level makerspace equipment to Canadian libraries. 

 

We all know how important books and reading are for babies and young children. I don’t need to go into detail about how books are essential for teaching children communication, listening and early literacy skills. Board, Picture and Early Reader books are the stepping-stones to learning and growing.

 

However as important as books are, there are other ways to help children learn. Libraries are changing. Gone are the days when a library was simply an information collection point. Now, libraries are community hubs. A common place for all members of the community to come together, to access unique and imagination-spurring resources. And libraries are starting to branch out and introduce educational toys to help enhance those literacy skills and teach key concepts such as colours, shapes, numbers and sounds etc.

 

We know that not all children learn the same way and having a diverse toy collection in a library is an excellent way to help support children of all abilities and families of all income levels. Toys in a library can focus on auditory, fine motor, gross motor, language, social, tactile, thinking, and visual skills development.

 

LSC is a co-op, and we serve the needs of our clients. So when a client came to us needing help, we listened. They wanted toys that fulfilled certain aged-based skills and educational outcomes. They also needed help cataloguing and processing these unusual items. This is the sort of challenge to which LSC is uniquely suited to provide assistance.

 

Our Selection team immediately set about sourcing educational toys and low-level makerspace equipment. Our cataloguing department put their expertise to work in creating MARC records that will be of value to patrons. And our processing department scoured our suppliers, finding just the right containers to house the toys.

 

Like all LSC products, libraries have a choice to receive the items direct, or have them catalogued and/or processed by us. For processed items, you can chose between a transparent tote making for easy stacking on shelves, or a transparent backpack that can be hung (and kids love to sling over their shoulder). If a library wishes to provide LSC with branded bags or containers of their own, we will process the material in these containers. All processed material is photographed to show all components.

 

The totes can come with a component and skill level checklist inside the container, so patrons and library staff alike can easily check to make sure everything where it should be. For the bags, we have developed a luggage tag that attaches to the bag, featuring the item picture, list of components, and the item barcode.

 

If you are looking for some ideas, check out Pyramid of Play. 5 wooden nesting blocks with fun graphics help with recognition of letters, pictures, colours, numbers and sizes, plus shape shorting, nesting and stacking.

 

Another great toy for toddlers is The Counting and Sorting Farm. Soft round stalls have numbers printed on the bottom with the same number on the stuffed farm critters. These little animals fit inside the little stalls and help teach children to count, match and sort.

 

My First Emotions helps young children learn to recognize and understand different emotions using bright buildable giant LEGO pieces. Children can turn the double-sided face bricks to explore the different facial expressions and use the story bricks to create their own tales around moods and feelings.

 

And finally, with The Shape Sorting Clock, children can match the colours, sort the shapes and solve the puzzle as they manipulate the colour clock and turn the hands. This help to build cognitive and motor skills and lays the groundwork for learning how to tell time.

 

Having accessible toys, games, puzzles and soft books to use both in and out of the library is just another step in helping your library community and the children within it connect, grow and learn more than ever before. 

 

The toys and makerspace equipment available to us is growing, and our Selectors are ready to source new materials at the request of a library. ARPs, based on skill level or material types, can be set-up so that your experiential learning areas are constantly refreshed with new items that we have the expertise to pick and provide.

 

As we develop this service, we will create regular Slists referring to new items that we have added to the catalogue. Currently, if you wish to purchase toys and makerspace equipment from us, please contact Sara Pooley directly. For the time being, please refer to our 2018 Selections for the types and skills available.

 

The 2018 SList is available here.

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter, and to subscribe to our new YouTube Channel. We also encourage you to subscribe to the weekly Green Memo, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

Take care!

 

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The first personality test I ever took was the True Colors test. I took it at the behest of a manager who believed that the dynamics of the department could only truly be reconciled by colour coding. For those not familiar, True Colors groups people in percentages according to the colours Blue (passionate), Green (logical), Gold (responsible) and Orange (fun). 

 

According to that test, I am a majority green, which I immediately dubbed the Scientist Robot category. Most of my coworkers were Gold or Blue. I took this an excellent opportunity to break out my Mr. Spock impersonation, considering how many Kirks and McCoys I was surrounded by. Given that there were no Oranges in the group, my impression was not appreciated.

 

A few years later, at a leadership retreat, I took part in the Myers-Briggs test. This test blows out the possible number of results even more, with 16 possible personality types. There are too many to list here, but they all have cool sounding names like Commander, Protagonist, or Virtuoso. Essentially, after answering a battery of binary questions, you are assigned one of two letters in four different categories.

 

I was, apparently, an INTJ, which I immediately and continue to pronounce “integer”. This means I am Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking and Judging, each of which Mean Something. Mostly, it seems to mean that I’m at risk for attempting to take over the world as apparently most movie villains are this type. So I’ve got that going for me.

 

A couple years ago, a friend introduced me to Enneagrams, by which I mean their chosen past time was attempting to type a person and, within a few minutes of meeting someone, would start shouting seemingly random numbers at them. As party tricks go, it leaves much to be desired. Enneagrams place people on a nonagon, with two numbers between one and nine identifying their personality. For instance, you could be a 2-7, which means that you are mostly a two, with a heavy seasoning of seven. Unlike other personality tests, which tend to track your strengths, the Enneagram places weight on where you most need improvement. In other words, it tells you why you suck.

 

I am, again apparently, a 4-5, the Individualist and the Investigator. Which I immediately dubbed the Robot Detective. And what I learned is that people who take these tests earnestly really don’t like it when you start introducing yourself as a Robot Detective when other people are trying to be capital-s Serious. Which, as you may have gathered, I am not. I personally feel that personality tests can inspire fun conversations, but shouldn’t be something that workplace dynamics or your own life philosophy should be based upon. Many, many people disagree with me. And spend a lot of money for the opportunity to take these tests.

 

The three I've mentioned are not the end of it. Personality tests are big business. StrengthsQuest, 5 Love Languages, MAPP, Big Five; the list goes on. BuzzFeed has built a business out of easy to take tests that tell you what kind of grilled cheese, or what Winnie the Pooh character, you are. And whether you pay for the privilege or take it on your phone during your lunch break, all of these have about the same scientific backing as the daily horoscope. Unlike the horoscope though, many of these tests are presented as being Scientific.

 

Myers-Briggs, for example, was not developed by psychologists, but by a mother-daughter team of amateurs who had an interest in pop psychology and based their method on their personal interpretations of Jung’s archetypes – archetypes which were not backed by scientific research either. It is these two women who at the focus of The Personality Brokers, by Merve Emre. Part history book, part biography, Emre dives into the social conditions that were present between the two world wars that gave rise to the Myers-Briggs assessment (the word “test” isn’t officially used by the institute that bears the name today), and the paranoia of the post-war period that saw it become successful. In a time of Cold War mistrust, a simple test can tell you exactly who a person is? Of course that would be a hit!

 

Emre also goes on step further, and examines why they appeal to us as we take them. The fantasy of personality they can provoke. Do we answer this questions honestly, or wantonly? Are we identifying who we actually are, or who we want to be? There is no such thing as a wrong answer, and on the whole, no bad personalities. But if you could, would you rather be an Orange or a Green? Emre touches on this self-romanticism, while striking a balance between being factual and being critical. She isn’t anti-personality test, she just wants the reader to think more about what these tests tell us about ourselves, beyond what they tell us about ourselves.

 

Oh, in case you’re wondering, I’m an Owl, and a Provolone on Rye. Who knew?

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter, and to subscribe to our new YouTube Channel. We also encourage you to subscribe to the weekly Green Memo, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

Yours, Fictionally

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The winners of Golden Globes have long been considered foreshadowing for potential winners of the Academy Awards. But, it is important to remember that the Golden Globes offer a lot more variety when it comes to categories, and also includes TV. And this past Sunday, they were handed out.

 

One of the major differences between the Globes and the Oscars is the split the Globes give between Drama and Comedy/Musical films. And while there has been no shortage of controversy over what qualifies as a comedy over the years, the split provides twice the opportunities for deserving films (and some undeserving *cough*Mary Poppins Returns*cough*) to be recognized.

 

This year’s winner for Best Drama was Bohemian Rhapsody, (Blu-ray/DVD) shocking for two reasons. First, because it a largely musical movie – tracking the career of Freddie Mercury. And second because it beat A Star Is Born (Blu-ray/DVD), which was expected to win (and is also a largely musical movie that was put into the Drama category and did win Best Original Song). Rhapsody has had a tumultuous history, from its original star Sacha Baron Cohen being dropped in favour of Rami Malek (who also won Best Actor in a Drama for his role), to losing its original director half way through filming, to general on-going controversies regarding the accuracy of the film. Still, despite all of this, audiences have loved it and apparently so did the Hollywood Foreign Press.

 

Best Comedy/Musical went to the biographical film Green Book (Blu-ray/DVD), starring Viggo Mortensen and winner of Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy/Musical Mahershala Ali.  This film, which is set in the American Deep South in the 1960s, also won Best Screenplay. These are just the latest in a series of prestigious wins, including the People’s Choice Award at last year’s TIFF, where it premiered. Expect Green Book and its examination of racism in America to feature heavily at next month’s Academy Awards.

 

Best Animated Film went to the completely amazing Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Blu-ray/DVD). You might ask yourself, does the world need another Spider-man movie? The answer is yes, this one. This is the Spider-man movie the world has been waiting for. Using a variety of different animation techniques and styles, this film (from the makers of the Lego Movie) seamlessly blends heart and full body laughs into a spectacular film that will amaze the entire family. Also, Chris Pine sings a Spider-man Christmas song, so that alone is worth the price.

 

British actor Olivia Colman took home the Best Actress in a Comedy/Musical for her role as Queen Anne in The Favourite (Blu-ray/DVD), easily this year’s strangest and  driest comedy. While not exactly or intended to be historically accurate, the tale of court intrigue in early 1700s England, the film is director Yorgos Lanthimos’ most accessible film (though if you haven’t seen his English language debut The Lobster, please stop what you are doing and watch it now. It is a special kind of brilliant).

 

Best Director and Best Foreign Language film went to Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma (Blu-ray/DVD). The director of Gravity and Children of Men is a front-runner for the Oscars, and Roma stands a good chance of being the first foreign language film to win Best Picture. The semi-autobiographical film depicts Cuaron’s childhood in Mexico City in the 1970s. The film, which was also shot in black and white, is one of the year’s best reviewed films, and was runner up at TIFF for the People’s choice Award – losing to Green Book, so some friendly rivalry being built up there.

 

Canadian Sandra Oh won Best Actress in a TV Drama for her stellar performance in season one of Killing Eve (Blu-ray/DVD), based on the Codename Villanelle novellas by Luke Jennings. If you haven’t seen the series, a playful reconstruction of the British Crime genre, you have time before season two airs later this year. Oh plays an American analyst working for British Intelligence, hunting down a mysterious assassin who has become obsessed with her investigator. Starkly violent, surprising at every turn and shockingly funny, Oh absolutely deserved her win. Hopefully season two lives up to the first.

 

Best Dramatic TV series went to the final season of the cold war spy series The Americans. The win is the first time in seven years that a series has won the top prize without also giving a trophy to at least one of its stars. The slow burn series - of Russian sleeper agents living in 1980s America - was a critical darling throughout its run on FX (Season 1Season 2Season 3Season 4, and Season 5).

 

Will any of these winners replicate victory at the Oscars in February, or will a dark horse come from behind (looking at you, If Beale Street Could Talk)? In any case, some really impressive performances this season. And a lot of titles that will be gaining interest over the next little while.

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter, and to subscribe to our new YouTube Channel. We also encourage you to subscribe to the weekly Green Memo, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

Happy watching!

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The Holocaust is one of the most horrifying and devastating events in history, and while those who experienced it firsthand are fewer each year, Holocaust Education week is held annually in November and International Holocaust Remembrance Day occurs every January 27th  to ensure that the history doesn’t die with the last survivor.

 

Thankfully, as sales statistics prove, reader interest in the Holocaust endures for both modern and classic books on the subject. Elie Weisel’s memoir Night, chronicling his experience surviving Nazi death camps as a teenager is one such example.   

 

Since the original Yiddish publication in 1956, it has been translated into more than 30 languages, was an Oprah book club pick in 2006, and is widely studied in schools around the world. Today, it remains a fixture on the Publisher’s Weekly Biography/Autobiography bestseller list, and tops Amazon’s Jewish Biographies list. According to Publisher’s Weekly, the book has sold 209k copies as of November, 2018, and the book has sold more than 10 million copies overall.

 

My first introduction to the Holocaust was through Anne Frank's Diary. I still remember the first time I read it. I was around 8 or 9 years old and my teacher assigned it in school. I was way too young to fully grasp everything that Anne was talking about in her diary (particularly the stuff about sexuality), but I did understand the reason that she and her family had to hide and the tragedy of what happened to Anne and her family.  

 

When the movie Schindler’s List released 25 years ago this Christmas, it became a huge box office success, and brought fresh attention to Thomas Keneally’s Booker Prize-winning historical novel of the same name.  Oskar Schindler was a German man who found a way to save 1200 Jewish people from execution by employing them in his factories. It's a story of heroism and courage, and viewers/readers flocked to it. 

 

In recent years, the genre has become so popular that it now has its own category on Amazon and is mainstream in bookstores. From The Book Thief to this year’s hit The Tattooist of Auschwitz, these titles resonate with readers, so what is it about the Holocaust that appeals both to writers and readers?

 

I believe there are a few reasons. One is that the generation who fought in WWII and survived the Holocaust are in their 80s and 90s, and there is a renewed sense of urgency to share their stories before there’s nobody left to tell them.

 

Another is that good historical fiction on any subject allows readers to make connections between the past and the present. For children especially (and adults too), history can be highly abstract and it can be difficult to understand what something that happened so long ago has to do with them. I hated history when I was a kid because my teacher was dry and boring. She had obviously forgotten the most important part of the word history is ‘story”.  Holocaust fiction brings it to life in a way that most textbooks can’t, and makes facts matter.

 

Lastly and most importantly is the emotional connection. If there wasn’t someone to care about or root for, why would anyone keep reading? These characters persevere against all odds and in one way or another are heroes.

 

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris is based on interviews that Morris had with the real Lale Sokolov in the three years before he passed away at age 90.

 

What makes this book successful is not just that it’s a Holocaust story, but a human story. It is a story of triumph, hope, resilience and love. Lale didn’t want to be the tattooist. It was a terrible task but one that he knew offered him a layer of protection and a chance to survive. When Lale inked the tattoo on Gita’s arm at Auschwitz, it was love at first sight, and he vowed to survive the camp and to marry her when the war was over.

 

Lale's story is like a beautiful flower in a barren wasteland. The fact that he and Gita survived at all is miraculous, let alone falling in love and finding each other after the war. It's about incredible courage, and love triumphing against all odds.

 

Readers want Lale and Gita to survive. They hope for the happily ever after. He is a hero for finding ways to help others when many wouldn’t, and for finding ways to give them hope. Gita was shipped out of the camp before he was, and all he knew was her name, not where she was from. At this point, it seemed like hope was lost and he’d never see her again, yet somehow they found each other. The couple was married in 1945, and were together until Gita’s death in 2003.

 

Some reviewers have criticized the book for focusing too heavily on the romance and of glossing over the horrors of the Holocaust, but I disagree.  In an age where the news is so bleak, we need hope. We need to be uplifted and to be reminded that even when things seem their darkest, something good can still exist.

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter, and to subscribe to our new YouTube Channel. We also encourage you to subscribe to the weekly Green Memo, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

Happy reading!

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