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Children’s Display Day Spring 2020 is coming up on March 4th at the Sherwood Community Centre in Milton, and we are very lucky to have special guest, Forest of Reading winning author Elizabeth MacLeod joining us for an author talk and book signing. We had a chance to talk with Elizabeth about her new books ahead of the day.

 

Elizabeth MacLeod loves science; that much is clear from her bibliography. A catalogue deep with biographies of Chris Hadfield , Albert Einstein, and Marie Curie, she pulls these figures out of recent and far history, and brings their lives and accomplishments to the attention of children across Canada.

 

This attention to science makes sense, as a former editor at OWL magazine. But with more than 60 books under her belt, she is a writer who can find passion and interest in any subject sent her way, as diverse as the subjects of her two new books, biographies of Willie O’Ree and Terry Fox.

 

With your background in biology, it is interesting that many of the scientists you have profiled have been physicists, chemists, and engineers. How do you choose which historical figures you write about?

 

"I love science so I want to interest kids in it and show them that it’s part of our lives every day. I also hope to help kids see that scientists aren’t necessarily geniuses, but they’re people who look at the world carefully and really see it. That’s something we can all do.

 

"There are so many great people to write about that I’m always sending names to my publisher. When I give presentations in schools and libraries, I ask kids, teachers and librarians for ideas. When I listen to podcasts or read blogs and newspapers, I’ve always got this series on my mind. My editor, Erin O’Connor, is also great at coming up with suggestions (and she’s a fabulous editor!).

 

"Choosing the subjects is hard because there are so many wonderful options. Diversity is really important in the series since we want kids to see themselves reflected in the books. We’re trying to include Canadians from many different backgrounds, men and women and from all across the country."

 

I’d like to ask you about your process a bit. How long do you spend researching your subject before you start writing? Are you researching multiple subjects at once, writing about one while researching another; or do you pick one, get it done, and move on to someone new?

 

"As soon as I’m given the subject, I start researching. I’m looking for facts and amazing stories as well as photos that the illustrator, Mike Deas, can use for visual references. I’m also searching for each subject’s most important characteristic — for Tom Longboat, for example, that was his love of running, while for Elsie MacGill it was her determination to work hard.

 

"The amount of time I spend researching depends on when the first manuscript is due and what other projects I’m working on at the same time. It can take me anywhere from two weeks to two months. I write each of the books in the series one at a time, but sometimes I’m working on books for other publishers too. As well, depending on the schedule, I may be writing one of the biographies in this series, while reviewing final pages for an earlier book."

 

Which of the figures you’ve written about has been your favourite? Which has surprised you the most?

 

"I think what I like best about the people in this series is that they were ordinary people, but went on to do something extraordinary. Viola Desmond was a businesswoman, not a black rights activist, when she sat down in that movie theatre, refused to move and made history. Chris Hadfield dreamed of being an astronaut when Canada didn’t even have a space program, so his ambition seemed impossible.

 

"I think each of the people in the series has surprised me. Did you know that Chris Hadfield is afraid of heights? Or that Elsie MacGill took drawing lessons from Emily Carr, Canada’s most famous female artist. Willie O’Ree not only faced discrimination because he’s black, but also lost the vision in his right eye when a puck hit it. I love discovering incredible stories like this!"

 

It was just announced that the Canadian Mint chose your newest subject, Willie O’Ree, as the figure to grace the 2020 Black History Month coin. What drew you to Willie?

 

"I’ve always loved hockey, so I was so happy when Scholastic, the series’ publisher, agreed to let me write about Willie. He really came on our radar when he was made a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame in November 2018. I also loved how he inspired kids with sayings like, “If you think you CAN or you think you CAN’T — you’re right!”

 

"When I researched Willie’s story, I discovered that as a young teenager, he’d met baseball great Jackie Robinson and told him that he, Willie, was going to be the first black NHL player. Isn’t that amazing? The stories about the discrimination that Willie faced are so disheartening, but it’s important that kids hear them and understand what Willie had to overcome."

 

Terry Fox may well be one of the most famous Canadians, ever. With the 40th anniversary of the Marathon of Hope this year, is there anything about Terry that still surprised you while researching him?

 

"First of all, I was amazed that it’s already been 40 years since Terry’s Marathon of Hope.

 

"My editor and I and the whole Scholastic team have also been surprised at how emotional Terry’s story still makes us. We keep complaining that someone must be cutting onions nearby when we watch videos of him running or the interview he gave when he had to stop his Marathon of Hope! Such a brave man and he united and inspired all Canadians.

 

"I was also surprised that at one point Terry said that he was more upset at losing his hair during the chemo treatments than he was at losing his leg. As well, before the treatments, his hair was straight, not at all curly as it grew back after his treatments."

 

Is there someone you’ve wanted to write about but haven’t had the chance to?

 

"There are so many great Canadians to write about! There are a few that are almost definite for upcoming books and I can’t talk about them yet, but I’d also love to write about Joseph-Armand Bombardier, who invented the snowmobile; singer and activist Buffy Sainte-Marie; Jeanne Sauvé, Canada’s first female governor general; wheelchair athlete Rick Hansen (who was inspired by Terry Fox) … the list goes on and on! And we’re always open to suggestions — let me know if you have any good ideas!"

 

If you want to hear Elizabeth talk more about her books, her process, and her new subjects, Willie O’Ree and Terry Fox (and maybe suggest a future subject), she’ll be speaking and signing books at LSC’s Spring Children’s Display Day on March 4th, at the Sherwood Community Centre in Milton. RSVPs can be sent to Jamie Quinn at jquinn@lsc.on.ca.

 

We’ll see you there!

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January 19th, 2020 is the inaugural I Read Canadian day, a day (and week) dedicated to encouraging young people to celebrate the richness, diversity, and breadth of Canadian literature.  The aim is to have Canadians, especially young people, take just 15 minutes out of their day to read a Canadian book, or have it read to them. 

 

Many libraries and schools are participating, including Ajax Public Library, Guelph Public Library, and Lethbridge Public Library. Here at LSC, we asked staff to let us know their favourite Canadian authors and/or books.  See below for their choices!

 

CEO Michael M. notes that one of his daughter’s favourite books was The Paper Bag Princess by the one and only Robert Munsch, illustrated by Michael Martchenko.  Originally published in 1980 by Annick Press, the book has withstood the test of time, Mike feels. Robert Munsch was a theme among our staff, also mentioned by CFO Kirk O., Multilingual Selector Julie K., and Nonfiction Selector Stef W. This year is the 40th anniversary of this classic book.

 

Stef’s personal favourite Canadian authors are Tanya Huff, Guy Gavriel Kay, and Gemma Files.  All three authors have written urban fantasy set in and around Canada: Tanya Huff’s Smoke trilogy and Enchantment Emporium trilogy; Guy Gavriel Kay’s Fionavar Tapestry; Gemma Files’s We Will All Go Down Together; and short fiction The Puppet Motel from the collection Echoes, edited by Ellen Datlow. 

 

In juvenile nonfiction, Stef recommends the Scholastic Canada Biography series, Indigenous author Theresa Corky Larsen-Jonasson, the Mothers of Xsan series, Eric Zweig, Elise Gravel, Jess Keating, the Haunted Canada series, and Helaine Becker.  In adult nonfiction, be sure to check out Metis author Jesse Thistle’s autobiography From the Ashes; The Skin We’re In: a Year of Black Resistance and Power by Desmond Cole; and The Vagina Bible by Jen Gunter.

 

Kirk O. cites Patrick DeWitt as one of his favourites; he’s loaned and recommends The Sisters Brothers to friends and family as a great read.  He also loved Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.

 

Acquisitions Clerk Fabiana S. recently read Sweep: the Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier and enjoyed it so much that she plans to read the rest of his bibliography.  She also recommends the Lullaby series, which includes Canada Lullaby, British Columbia Lullaby, and Alberta Lullaby.  They’re even available to listen to on Youtube.

 

Rachel S., Adult Fiction Selector, has always had a special place in her reading heart for Gordon Korman.  Not only did she attend the same elementary school he did, but she’s met him professionally (he’s always charming and funny) and his book Don’t Care High was loosely based on the high school she attended.  She also recommends quintessential summer camp book I Want To Go Home, as well as No More Dead Dogs.

 

Outside of Gordon Korman, Rachel makes a point of reading Courtney Summers’s YA fiction, and books like Very Rich by Polly Horvath.  She notes that Dennis Lee wrote a picture book – Lizzy’s Lion – in 1984 that’s one of the most twisted and brilliant picture books she’s ever read, and some of her favourite adult fiction authors are Timothy Findlay, Michael Ondaatje, and Robert Sawyer.

 

Finally, Library Service Representative Michael C. has two recommendations to make.  First up is John Bianchi, who was actually born in New York but came to Canada in 1968 and made his career here.  Snowed in at Pokeweed School was a childhood favourite of Michael’s, and he’s always found Bianchi’s drawing style a delight.  His second recommendation is Canadian writer – and computer programmer – Ryan North.  North created Dinosaur comics, has written a Choose Your Own Adventure style version of Hamlet, and recently published How to Invent Everything: A Survival Guide for the Stranded Time Traveller.

 

These are just some of the great Canadians creating great literature.  For more information on I Read Canadian Day, check out their website, which offers awesome reading lists, including the Forest of Reading Awards and the CCBC Book Awards.

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As a mom of a toddler on the spectrum, recent life has been a crash course about neurodiversity. It’s painful to acknowledge that until recently, the main representation of autism in popular culture was the movie Rain Man, where Dustin Hoffman plays an autistic savant. Things have come a long way since then, but there is so much room for improvement. Still, only characters with “cute” special needs are reflected in popular media. Think Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory. What is never addressed is that our world is built for those who are “normal.”

 

Some treatments that were considered effective for autism therapy are being described by the now autistic adults who undertook the therapy as detrimental to their core being. Instead of focusing on inclusion and support, the focus was on compliance, but a tide is turning. Consider for example being nonverbal. Books like Ido in Autismland by Ido Kedar and The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida, both nonverbal young adults on the spectrum, have opened eyes globally. Both of them learned to express themselves (from basic needs to complex imaginative thoughts) through a simple alphabet chart. Previous to these books, there was a basic understanding among professionals that nonverbal meant non-understanding; meant non-intelligent.

 

Luckily, we have great author advocates like Meg Raby who released picture book My Brother Otto: An Autism Awareness Book this year. Otto is a young nonverbal crow on the spectrum. The book is told by his sister who describes his traits, likes and dislikes, and how much she loves him. He is pictured ordering bugs and cheese for lunch using an alternative communication device like an iPad. This picture book is ground breaking, in my opinion – the underlying message doesn’t leave you pitying Otto, it’s about two kids’ everyday experiences with an emphasis on kindness and understanding, one of them just happens to be autistic. It is also extremely refreshing to see an alternate mode of communication in popular media.

 

In a similar vein, I shared a copy of I See Things Differently: A First Look at Autism by Pat Thomas with my son’s daycare teachers for reading with his class. The gentle, informational approach describes the sensory challenges people on the spectrum deal with daily, how they might feel like an alien on their own planet sometimes, and how everyone needs a friend for love and support.

 

A less serious picture book we have enjoyed very much is Why Johnny Doesn’t Flap: NT is OK by Clay Morton. This book reverses the common depictions of neurodiversity by showing how a neurotypical (NT) kid is seen by his best friend on the spectrum. The narrator’s funny confusion at his NT friend’s habits (for example, his tardiness for showing up at 4:59pm or 5:01pm instead of 5pm on the dot) show that “normal” depends on who you ask. Similarly, we can all take a page from recent picture book My Shape is Sam by Amanda Jackson, about a square who wants to roll like a circle – but scratch that, Sam ISN’T a square or a circle, he’s just Sam! He doesn’t have to be what others want or expect him to be.

 

The point is, “normal” doesn’t exist anymore. Put your love and patience into high gear and show those who are flappy, nonverbal, hyper, and differently abled from you that you love them, want them around, and that the world is becoming a more inclusive place day by day. 

 

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.

 

Until next time!

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When I was 16, a friend of mine asked me if I’d heard of NaNoWriMo.  It turned out that there was this event going into its second year called National Novel Writing Month, where the goal was to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days.  Both of us were writers and at 16, my only real time concern was being in my last year of high school, so we decided we would both sign up and attempt this challenge.

 

NaNo (as it’s known to us Wrimos) was small back then, at least compared to today; its inaugural year in July 1999 featured a whole 21 participants.  By the time I heard of it, I was one of 5000, and the event was being reported in the L.A. Times and the Washington Post.  I won that year with a terrible novel about vampires, a talking cabbage, and a hellhound named Fluffy, because when you need to write 50,000 words in a month, reality is the least of your concerns.  I’ve participated every year since, in both the original NaNo and in the spinoff Camp NaNoWriMo, which began in 2011 and allows me to choose my own wordcount goal rather than sticking to the 50K.  I’ve also won every year, sometimes legitimately, sometimes by cheating... I mean, rebelling.

 

In 2003, NaNo’s founder, Chris Baty, wrote No Plot? No Problem (updated and revised in 2016), a guide to writing a novel, whether in 30 days or not.  My copy hangs out on my overburdened bookcase along with Stephen King’s On Writing, Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, and Dreyer’s English. NaNo taught me a lot about writing a first draft quickly, including the fact that it will suck and that’s okay.  As King says, you write your first draft with the door closed.  And preferably locked, when you live with your parents or roommates who inevitably want to know what you’re doing (writing), why (because I want to), and if they can be characters in your story (no).

 

In past years, there’s usually been one or two news articles or blog posts questioning NaNo and whether it’s ruining the sanctity of the written word.  They usually point out that a novel written in 30 days probably isn’t very good, and also such a singleminded focus on length won’t improve that.  This is true.  A novel written in 30 days will be awkward and ungainly, full of run-on sentences, illogical actions, and plotholes you can drive a truck through.  Characters change names, appearances, and occasionally gender.  Authors forget how to English (or whatever their language is), as proved by the hilarious NaNoisms thread that pops up every year for participants to chronicle their worst typos and brainfarts.  At the end of the month, you have a novel that is certainly not in any state to be published, or even shopped around to agents.

 

That’s not the point.  The point of NaNo is to get yourself writing.  It’s to train yourself to sit down in your chair, put your hands on the keyboard, and write some words.  Sometimes that’s only a sentence.  Sometimes you drag out the first few (hundred) words and your muse finally engages and you’re off flying, words spilling out so fast your fingers can’t even keep up.  Either way, you’re doing something many people say they’ll do but never carve out the time to actually do it.

 

Of course, there are plenty of novels out there that started as NaNovels and were beaten into submission, polished, and published by real live publishers.  They include Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Wool by Hugh Howey, Cinder by Marissa Meyer, and many more.  And this year, though I haven’t actively been searching for any, I haven’t seen any handwringing about how NaNo is destroying writing as an art.  I have seen news articles, pep talks from famous authors, and library programs in areas like Burnaby, Montreal, and Cambridge’s Idea Exchange.  I’ve seen another official NaNoWriMo handbook in Brave the Page, a juvenile nonfiction guide and inspiration for middle graders.

 

In the 18 years I’ve been participating in NaNoWriMo, I’ve written almost 1 million words.  I’ve written halves of novels, full novels, short stories, novellas, 104K in a month, 50K in 6 days (Surgeon General’s Warning: not recommended unless you like uncontrollable tremors).  Whether I finish a full novel or rebel by rewriting older stories (or by writing blog posts), NaNo has taught me to just put my head down, stop complaining, and get it done.

 

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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If you’ve turned on the news lately, you may have heard of 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, the Swedish environmental activist who’s been making waves with her passionate speeches.  In August 2018, Greta began to protest climate change by sitting outside of Sweden’s national legislature, the Riksdag, with a sign reading Skolstrejk för klimatet (school strike for the climate).  Her protests have inspired countless similar protests throughout the world, and Greta herself has been invited to speak on many global stages, including here in Canada.

 

Greta and her family will be releasing their autobiography, Our House is on Fire: Scenes of a Family and a Planet in Crisis, at the end of April 2020.  For those who can’t wait for more information, however, Jeannette Winter has published a nonfiction picture book with the same title.  Other books featuring Greta’s story include Greta and the Giants by Zoe Tucker and No One is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta herself.

 

Fortunately Greta isn’t the only one concerned with both the environment and our world as a whole.  Youth activism is on the rise, according to author and scholar Jessica Taft.  In the United States, the survivors of the Parkland school shooting have been campaigning for better gun control.  Malala Yousafzai has been working on behalf of girls and women since 2009, even surviving an assassination attempt.  Here in Canada, we have our own youth focusing on a range of topics, from Stella Bowles in Nova Scotia – whose juvenile nonfiction book My River: Cleaning up the Lahave River was recently nominated for the Forest of Reading – to Metis-Jamaican Larissa Crawford, and LGBTQ2+ activist Fae Johnstone.

 

Human impact on the environment and climate change have been big topics over the past few years.  In our recent election, climate change was second only to health care among Canadians polled by Ipsos.  The book world has seen a number of publications focused on the environment, climate change, and the plight of the natural world and its animals.  At the beginning of October, Kari Jones published Ours to Share: Co-Existing in a Crowded World as part of the Orca Footprints series.  The book focuses on the growth of the human population – from just a few hundred thousand people to our current population of nearly eight billion – and our impact on the world around us.  It’s a positive book, however, highlighting how we can share with our neighbours and what kids can do to help better the world.

 

One of the bigger issues in the climate change discussion is the issue of plastic.  Some steps have been taken to reduce our plastic waste – like encouraging reusable bags at the grocery store and charging for plastic ones – but there’s a glut of information out there that people may struggle to sort through.  The Plastic Problem by Rachel Salt. Written by a producer for the YouTube channel AsapSCIENCE, the book breaks down the issues and lays out solutions.  For younger readers, there’s also Join the No-Plastic Challenge by Scot Ritchie, part of the Exploring Our Community series.

 

We’re headed into winter now and the forecast for the year is milder but stormier.  While I can’t say I’ll particularly miss the dreaded polar vortex, unpredictable and stormy weather is still a sign of climate change.  According to NASA, the rising ocean temperatures are likely to lead to an increase in extreme rainstorms.  In the winter, despite the colder temperatures, the increase in evaporated water can also lead to heavier snowfall.

 

All hope isn’t lost, though.  Many people all over the world, including youth activists like Greta Thunberg, are working towards reducing our carbon emissions, pollution, and plastic garbage.  This past spring and summer, the #trashtag challenge went viral, encouraging people to clean up an area near them and post before and after photos.  Much better than throwing slices of plastic cheese onto your baby.

 

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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At LSC, we endeavor to ensure that Canadian libraries have unparalleled access to Canadian content, whether that be materials by Canadians, about Canadians, or what is important to Canadians. Part of that commitment is improving access to materials by Indigenous Peoples. Thanks to some recent initiatives, we now have additional tools to help with that.

 

Back in June BookNet Canada announced a research project they had undertaken, to generate a list of materials specifically dealing with Canadian Indigenous topics. As a starting point, they used BISAC codes to isolate the sales data on materials associated with Indigenous or Native American/Canadian headings. They were then able to see how these materials have sold compared to other English language materials. Happily, from 2016, there have been consistent gains in sales for Indigenous themed material. Next, they pulled just the data from Junes 2018 to 2019, identified the top sellers and broke down the results into Fiction and Non-Fiction categories for Adult and Juvenile. The resulting four lists they are calling the Bestselling Indigenous Books in Canada.

 

They are quick to point out that only two of the forty items were not written by Canadian or Indigenous authors. They also point out that Canadian publishers are responsible for most of the items on the list. This is all to say, this list represents a collection of books in which Indigenous Peoples are telling their own stories, a critical and foundational aspect of decolonization.

 

For a more complete breakdown of their methodology, see their announcement post here. For your ease, we’ve put all four lists together into one single Slist, from which you can purchase the items directly. The Adult Fiction list includes recent favourites by Joseph Boyden and Thomas King, as well as brand new books like There, There by Tommy Orange, and Starlight by Richard Wagamese. The Non Fiction list is a fantastic list of items that would bolster any collection, including All Our Relations by Tanya Talaga, and Indigenous Relations by Bob Joseph.

 

The children’s lists consist of many items that I know are already being used in many elementary schools, including Fatty Legs by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton and The Sharing Circle by Theresa Meuse. As well as newer titles that will hopefully find their ways into the hands of more young Canadians, like The Girl and the Wolf by Katherena Vermette and Go Show the World by Wab Kinew and Joe Morse.

 

In addition to this, the UN General Assembly has designated 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages. This resolution came about as “40 per cent of the world’s estimated 6,700 languages were in danger of disappearing— the majority belonging to indigenous peoples.” They hope to raise awareness of these languages and the cultures they represent internationally. You can see the full scope of their initiative here

 

Map: Chris Brackley/Can GeoIn Canada, 2011 census data shows that there are 60 active Indigenous languages, belonging to 12 root language families, spoken by 213,000 people across the nation. Canadian Geographic has put together a wonderful graphic mapping these languages, which can be viewed fully here (Image credit: Chris Brackley/Can Geo.)

 

To support this Year of Indigenous Languages, LSC has put together a list of recent and prominent Indigenous materials. This list of 101 items is a mix of Fiction and Non-Fiction, Adult and Juvenile, English and French. The items are all by Canadian Indigenous authors, again ensuring that people are telling their own stories. These items would form a powerful foundation to an Indigenous collection, and satisfies two of the UN’s five key action areas: “Increasing understanding, reconciliation and international cooperation”; and “Elaborating new knowledge to foster growth and development.”

 

LSC is committed to helping libraries decolonize and increase the representation in their collections. Indigenous languages are part of that commitment. We list Southern Cree, Inuktitut and Ojibway among the languages available through our World Languages program. We are constantly looking out for new materials from new and existing publishers, in Indigenous languages. As demand for this material grows, so will supply, and LSC will be there to help libraries build the best collections for their customers.

 

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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One of the reasons my bookclub fellows and bookworm friends keep me around is for the book recommendations. They know I have the inside track on what is currently popular, but also what is coming. And that is a great perk of working in libraries: knowing months in advance what books are to be published. But who do librarians turn to for reader advisory? That’s where Loan Stars comes in.

 

Loan Stars, for those who don’t know, is an amazing reader’s advisory program. Run in conjunction by BookNet Canada and the Canadian Urban Libraries Council, this service aggregates the recommendations of working library professionals into monthly lists. And unlike some commercial lists, which focus on bringing existing books to the public’s attention, Loan Stars is focused on the future. Their monthly lists consist of the most recommended items that will be published within the following month.

 

How does it work? Anyone working in a library in Canada can sign up for a free CataList account. Then, so long as you are logged in, you will see a “recommend” button next to eligible titles. Click the button, and that’s it. At the end of every month, the super computers and clever folk at Loan Stars tally the results, and the ten books with the most recommendations are added to one of two lists: adult and juvenile.

 

This is a fantastic way to get the word out about books that people haven’t heard about yet. At LSC, we swim in the galley proofs that are sent to us by publishers, and from my days in libraries, I know the case is true there too. And it is a (nerdy) thrill to have the inside track on a book that no one else will be able to read for months. I’m sure we’re all the same, when you read a good book, all you want to do is tell people they should read it. Loan Stars is one of the best ways to tell colleagues across Canada what they should keep an eye out for, or get the jump on and order in advance.

 

We all use things like the New York Times Best Seller list, or Canada Reads to build our collections, but those are reactive lists, and much of the demand for those items is driven by patrons. Loan Stars gives you the chance to get ahead of the rush on items no one has heard of yet, but will want. What I like about it is, it’s not just the best sellers. Those books are going to be popular regardless, they barely need our help. These are recommendations coming directly from staff; their actual opinions, not just what they think will be popular but what they think should be popular.

 

Take a book like Vessel, by Lisa A. Nichols, or Grass, by Kuem Suk Gendry-Kim. These are not books that would usually end up on conventional lists. But enough of your peers across the country liked them so much, they ended up on recent Loan Stars lists. It has effected my personal reading; every month there is at least one book that catches me by surprise and that I immediately put on hold at my local branch. I don’t know if I would have found No Country for Old Gnomes, by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne, without it.

 

 

 

What’s on their lists for August? Some choice morsels include:

  • Translated from Gibberish, by Anosh Irani, is a collection of short stories exploring his life and experience as an immigrant. Knitting together his life through seven tales set in India or Canada, with wit and heart, Irani presents a raw – if not entirely truthful – autobiographical journey.
  • Snow, Glass, Apples, by Colleen Doran and Neil Gaiman, is a graphic novel adaptation of Gaiman’s original short story from Smoke and Mirrors, itself a twisted version of the story of Snow White. As only Gaiman can, the story weaves melancholy and pathos with vampirism and necrophilia. This volume pairs that with Doran’s crisp style which blends clean characters with conceptual layout design. This is their second collaboration, having recently also graphically adapted Gaiman’s Troll Bridge (one of my personal favourites).
  • Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me, by Anna Mehler Paperny, is a frank, honest, and at times absurd memoir detailing her time in a psych ward after her first suicide attempt, and her journey through the long-term treatment of living with depression. While not unique to the experiences of those whose life is touched by depression, Paperny’s perspective is a uniquely Canadian one in publishing. There are few books that touch on the Canadian Health Care system, the Canadian pharmaceutical system, the Canadian Mental Health system as it relates to depression, which are far more relevant to Canadian readers than anything coming up from south of the border.
  • Code Like a Girl: Rad Tech Projects and Practical Tips, by Miriam Peskowitz, is a great resource for kids who want to learn how to code, and offers step-by-step instructions for actual projects, like building a motion sensor for their room, or creating smartphone gloves.
  • And, I would be remise in my duty as a professional and a connoisseur of fine literature if I did not point out that Does It Fart: A Kid's Guide to the Gas Animals Pass, by Nick Caruso, absolutely made this month’s list. As well it is should.

Now, you’re asking yourself, “how do I read these monthly lists?” There are two ways. One is to sign up for the Loan Stars monthly email, which has the lists delivered direct to your inbox. However, if you want to be able to see the list and immediately purchase the items on it, LSC creates an Slist version of every Loan Stars list, so you can view and add the items to your cart in our catalogue. Here are the links to the most recent Adult and Juvenile Loan Stars lists for August, and you can find older lists under the “Special” heading in the Slist page

 

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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June is Pride month. And every library deserves to have the best and latest materials created by, celebrating, and helping to create more allies of the LGBTQ+ community. This week's blog is a combination of efforts from our Selectors, who keep an eye out all year long for new material, and thankfully the amount being made is increasing every year. There are, happily, too many to talk about. We can however, bring attention to a few.

 

A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer & Trans Identities, by Mady G., J.R. Zuckerberg, 

is a great starting point for anyone curious about queer and trans life, and helpful for those already on their own journeys! In this quick and easy guide covers topics like sexuality, gender identity, coming out, and navigating relationships through informative comics, interviews, and worksheets.

 

In graphic novels, we can recommend Bloom by Kevin Panetta. Ari meets Hector while interviewing him as his replacement at his family bakery. As they get to know each other, and as Ari's desire to get away from the life he knew overlaps with Hector entering his world, love rises like a fresh loaf of bread. Meat & Bone, by Kat Verhoeven, is set in Toronto, and follows three young women dealing with the modern world. One roommate wrestles with severe body image issues, another is trying to figure out how to navigate her new polyamorous relationships, while the third practically moves into the gym to work out her own problems.

 

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki follows Frederica Riley as she dates, then breaks up with, then dates again her high school dream girl Laura Dean. Except Laura might not be the best influence on Frederica. Kiss Number 8 by Colleen Venable is about Mads, who is so caught up in her personal discovery that she is less interested in Adam than she is in Cat, that she fails to notice that her dad is hiding something big--so big it could tear her family apart.  Finally, On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden takes place in two different time periods. In one, a ragtag crew travels to the deepest reaches of space, rebuilding beautiful, broken structures to discover the past. In the other, two girls meet in boarding school and fall deeply in love, only to learn the pain of loss.

 

In Children's, we start with It Feels Good To Be Yourself, a picture book by One Bad Mother podcast co-host Theresa Thorn. Inspired by her own young child's transition, this book simply helps young kids understand that some people are boys. Some people are girls. Some people are both, neither, or somewhere in between. In any case, they are people who are being themselves, and everyone is happiest when they are who they really are, and not who others say they have to be.

 

Michael Joosten has a pair of board books out, My Two Moms and Me and My Two Dads and Me, which follow happy, diverse LGBTQ+ families as they go about their daily - sometimes busy - routines. 

 

Jacob's Room to Choose by Sarah Hoffman is the sequel to Jacob's New Dress. In this encouraging story about gender expression, Jacob and his classmate Sarah both get chased out of the bathrooms they try to use because they don't dress the "usual" way. This starts a conversation at the school the many forms of gender expression and how to treat each other with respect.

 

For Young Adults, Technically, You Started It by Lana Wood Johnson is about technology, mental health, identity, and expression. Haley and Martin feel like they are the only ones who really get each other. Martin is willing to listen to her weird facts and unusual obsessions, and Martin feels like Haley is the first person to really see who he is. The problem is, they don't really know each other, only speaking over text, and its possible they are becoming addicted to each other.

 

In Non Fiction, Pride: The LGBTQ+ Rights Movement by Christopher Measom is the most in-depth visual tribute to the American LGBTQ+ pride movement ever created. Staring in post WWI bohemian subculture and marching up to the present day push for gender rights, the book features rare photographs, artwork, profiles of movement icons and heroes, activist speeches, and excepts from news reports and literary works. 

 

Stonewall: A Building. An Uprising. A Revolution by Rob Sanders is written to introduce children to the true story of the birth of the modern gay right movement during the Stonewall Riot on June 28, 1969, in time for the 50th anniversary. The police raid that night, the riot that followed, and the empowerment it inspired in members of the LGBTQ+ community sparked their demanding of equal rights.

 

And there is Antoni in the Kitchen. This cookbook comes from Montreal chef and one of the stars of of the Netflix smash hit Queer Eye, Antoni Porowski, and is all about the way to find success in the kitchen with stylishly accessible, few-ingredient recipes.

 

In fiction, there are several Canadian offerings. Song of the Sea by Jenn Alexander follows Lisa Whelan moving to her family's sea-side home to get over the grief of losing her newborn son. She's not expecting to meet anyone, and is caught off guard by the attraction she feels for Rachel, the part-owner of a local restaurant.

 

Even Weirder Than Before is the debut novel from Newfoundland author Susie Taylor. Daisy’s simple life is thrown into cataclysm when her father suddenly leaves and her mother breaks down. Add to that her increasingly confused feelings towards girls, and the drama of past boys that keep coming in with the tide. Our rep Michael Clark saw Susie read an except from the book recently, and it is a deeply personal, deeply funny book, which is garnering a lot of attention.

 

If, Then by Kate Hope Day is an unexpected character study. A quiet Oregon suburb is disrupted by the rumbling of a distant, dormant volcano. At the same time, people begin seeing visions of their lives - not as they are, but as they might be. Samara sees the mother she just lost alive and well. Cass, a new mother struggling with her life choices, sees a different life for herself. Mark sees a wild, homeless creature with his eyes. And Ginny sees a life of domestic bliss with her female coworker. What do these visions mean, and how will they change the lives of everyone in the shadow of the mountain?

 

This is but a scant few of the LGBTQ+ items available through LSC. Slists are available at numbers 41996, 41997, and 41998, and our selectors would be happy to discuss themes and put lists together for you, upon request. Please feel free to reach out to Rachel, Sara, Stef, and Angela for more.

 

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 Pride.

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Ah Easter, that most transitory of holidays.  It zig-zags its way through early spring like the bunny that is its most prominent symbol.  Brightly-coloured eggs, cheerful bunnies, and little yellow fluffball chicks all remind us of a fresh new beginning, as winter fades and the new season begins.  And frankly it can’t come soon enough, even if Easter is late this year.

Easter’s date is determined by a lunisolar calendar rather than a strictly solar one, meaning that it falls on the first Sunday following the first full moon of spring.  Depending on the cycles of the moon, that means Easter can be any Sunday between March 22nd and April 25th.

 

What’s the significance of the moon?  Like Christmas, Easter was originally a pagan celebration named for a Germanic goddess called Ēostre or Ostara.  Feasts were held in her honour during the Old English month that corresponds to April, welcoming in spring.  Germanic traditions have remained attached to the celebration as it moved through the years, such as decorating eggs and the Osterhase (Easter hare) bringing treats to well-behaved children.  Other celebrations, like sword dancing and “heathen pastries” (as Jacob Grimm called them), have not, at least here in North America.

 

Easter is also an important modern religious holiday.  In Christianity, Easter Sunday is celebrated as the Day of the Resurrection, and for centuries it was the most important observance within that faith.  For books on the Christian exploration of Easter, check out The Story of Easter by Helen Dardik, The Berenstain Bears: Easter Sunday by Mike and Jan Berenstain, and God Gave Us Easter by Tawn Bergeren.

 

In the Jewish traditions, Easter and Passover fall within the same general timeframe, though they aren’t related.  Passover by Grace Jones offers a factual breakdown meant for young readers, and Around the Passover Table by Tracy Newman and Pippa’s Passover Plate by Vivian Kirkfield convey the meaning of the holiday through fictional stories.

 

Of course we can’t forget the classics when it comes to Easter books.  Happy Easter, Little Critter by Mercer Mayer was published when I was already in my teens, but I still have fond memories of the series.  Curious George and Clifford the Big Red Dog also have their own books celebrating the holiday.  No Easter collection is complete, however, without It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown by Charles M. Schultz, a book surpassed (only slightly) by the TV special It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

 

That doesn’t mean there aren’t great new books coming out that celebrate Easter.  We’re Going on an Egg Hunt, illustrated by Laura Hughes, promotes deduction and hand-eye skills for our littlest readers, even as it thrills them with beautiful illustrations.  Bill Cotter’s Don’t Push the Button: an Easter Surprise is an interactive story that introduces children to the concept of antici…pation with each turn of the page.  And for something with a Canadian flavor, look for Tiny the Toronto Easter Bunny by Eric James.  When the Easter bunny becomes stuck, Tiny must deliver treats to Toronto, but discovers than an elephant trying to fill a bunny’s shoes is a little harder than it seems.

 

In Australia, given that rabbits are an invasive species, there’s been a push to make the Easter bunny an Easter bilby, one of the few native Australian animals that probably doesn’t want to destroy humans.  Probably.  Those interested in learning more about the bilby can check out Bilby: Secrets of an Australian Marsupial by Edel Wignell.

 

Back to rabbits, many people get a little caught up in the bunny craze around Easter and start thinking they should get one for their kids as a pet.  However, rabbits – like all creatures – should be bought or adopted as a family decision, not as an impulse purchase.  Rabbits can live a decade or more and need social interaction, exercise, and a healthy diet to stay as happy as possible.  Capstone’s Caring for Rabbits can help children understand how to take care of their new pet, and for adults there’s Skyhorse’s Raising Happy Rabbits.  For bunnies and their humans who might need to learn how to relax a little, there’s the delightful, mindful Yoga Bunny by Brian Russo.

 

For those who don’t want the actual responsibility of owning a rabbit, many places open their petting zoos around Easter, where you can not only interact with rabbits, but sheep, goats, ponies, and even llamas or alpacas.  Many cities and communities offer Easter egg hunts, and for those of us without children, there’s the traditional Tuesday hunt for half-price chocolate.  Whether taking the kids out or getting together with the family for a feast (lamb is traditional), Easter is a season for new beginnings and new plans.

 

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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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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