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When it comes to boys and reading, there are several myths and misunderstandings surrounding their habits. These myths perpetrate the belief that boys, and teen boys especially, don’t read. And if they do, they won’t read fiction.

 

Curious to see whether this is also true of boys who have grown up reading and enjoying novels, I asked my friend whose sons recently turned 11 and 14 if she has noticed a difference in the reading habits of her kids as they’ve gotten older. Her younger son still enjoys reading, and is open to reading a variety of titles. Her teenager, who not so long ago was deep into Harry Potter now says “UGHHH” very loudly when she suggests that he put down his device and read a book.

 

Why don’t boys read novels you may ask? Well, according to Jon Scieszka, popular author and founder of Guysread, one reason that boys stop reading is because they lack a male role model for literacy. Research suggests that while men often come back to reading as they approach retirement age, boys mostly see women reading and therefore do not see it as a male activity.

 

a box set collection of Judy Blume novelsWhen my brother was a kid, he enjoyed the popular “boy” books such as the Fudge books by Judy Blume, How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell, Encyclopedia Brown by Donald Sobol, etc…By the time he was a pre-teen, he was hardly reading at all. And in university, he asked me if I had Coles Notes for the required reading in his English class just to avoid reading the book. My dad is a reader now, but when my brother and I were little, he was building his career, and I doubt if we saw him just sitting down and reading. My mom had the luxury of staying home, and had a lot more time to read for pleasure.

 

The most common assumption is that girls read fiction and boys read non-fiction. For girls, reading is a pleasurable activity, whereas for boys, it’s merely a means to finding out something they want to know. This belief is certainly common in the publishing world, and of the 600 or so unique YA novels published each year, an overwhelming majority seem aimed at girls (statistics on this vary so take this as a baseline). According to a study of all books reviewed by Horn Book Magazine in 2014, the protagonists of middle grade novels were 48% boys, 36% girls, and 16% both, while in YA, 65% were female, 22% male, and 13% both.

 

Economically, this makes sense. Publishing is a business, and the job of a publisher is to produce books that meet the demand of the market. If there is little demand for boy-oriented YA fiction, they aren’t going to spend their limited dollars trying to meet a demand that isn’t there. That also means that the so-called boy books receive little to no marketing dollars, so even though they exist, it’s a lot harder to find them.

 

Now we’ve got a chicken/egg question. Do boys stop reading because of the perception that YA fiction is for girls, or is YA fiction aimed at girls because teen boys don’t read fiction? If you assume that boys won’t read and cater primarily to girls, boys naturally assume that there is nothing for them and focus their attention on other activities.  On the other hand, if you give them something that will engage them, they will be more likely to read.

 

So what will engage a boy? A thrilling story with a lot of action is a big one, and is a lot more important than the gender of the protagonist. Hunger Games is a perfect example of a female-centered book that boys have enjoyed, largely because the story has enough action and excitement to keep male readers engaged, and it doesn’t look like a girl book. I don’t know too many boys who are interested in reading about mean girls and love triangles, and I definitely don’t know many who will willingly pick up a book with a feminine cover. They also like stories about real boys experiencing real things, because boys want characters they can relate to as much as girls do.

 

the delusionist by don calame / a street magician juggling a ball and holding playing cards, against a blue fieldOne author who definitely understands the teenage boy psyche is British Columbian author Don Calame, whose four previous books have been big hits with reluctant readers. When I described the plot of Swim the Fly to my partner, he blanched, and literally asked me “how did he know?” As far as I’m aware they have no direct (or indirect) connection, but he was positive that Calame had somehow heard about his teenage exploits and put them into a novel.

 

His new novel The Delusionist focuses on two best friends, and their individual quests to find the perfect magic trick to get them into a summer magic academy for teens. As the story progresses, they find their friendship tested by a crafty female magician, the pressure of competing against each other, and the desire to be seen as individuals and not one half of a duo. It’s funny, it’s real, and I can think of several boys between 11 and 15 who will enjoy it.

 

the loop by ben oliver / the word loop with each letter a floor plan of a building.If your teens are into action, Ben Oliver’s Loop Trilogy is an exciting, action-packed dystopian horror series that will appeal to fans of Maze Runner. The story focuses on 16-year-old Luca Kane, who is an inmate inside a futuristic death-row prison for teens. When the teens suddenly find themselves left alone in the prison, Luca will have to overcome fellow prisoners who want to kill him, rabid rats in the train tunnels, and an outside population turned into murderous monsters if he wants to survive. Book 2 released last year, and while there’s no official word on book 3 yet, we can hope that it won’t be too long a wait to see how the series ends.

 

These are just a couple of suggestions, but there are many books out there with teen boy appeal. You just have to be willing to find them. 

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, on Twitter, our YouTube Channel, and now on Issuu. We also encourage you to subscribe to the LSC Weekly Update, 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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Everybody loves a good mystery, and from the moment I started reading chapter books, I had mysteries on my shelf. I had tons of collections of mini-mysteries (the ones where the solution was written in backwards writing that you held up to a mirror), and I loved solving puzzles alongside my favourite kid sleuths.

 

Anyone who enjoys reading mysteries can appreciate that sense of satisfaction when you have your ‘AHAH!’ moment and figure everything out, and I think that somehow it’s even more satisfying when you’re a kid. As the popular mystery writer Stuart Gibbs speculates, mysteries appeal because the smartest person (usually the good guys) wins, and they are just ordinary people without super powers or any extraordinary gift except for intellect. I’d also suggest that solving mysteries give kids a sense of power in a world where they often feel helpless and powerless.

 

While some of the books I enjoyed as a kid are now considered non-PC (Enid Blyton I’m looking at you), I’m amazed at how many of the series I followed as a kid are still in print and popular, and am constantly blown away by how rich a genre it is.

 

waiting game cover / an overhead picture of a chess boardI remember my brother and I both enjoying Donald Sobel’s Encyclopedia Brown. I loved Harriet the Spy, Liza, Bill and Jed (a series by Amelia Bedelia author Peggy Parish about sleuthing twins and their younger brother), and of course Ellen Raskin’s Newbery Award-winning novel The Westing Game which is still considered the gold standard of juvenile mysteries today.

 

When you think of famous kidlit detectives, Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys are probably the first to jump to mind. They’ve been popular for nearly a century, and they are among the few children’s book series that I can say both my parents and I read and enjoyed. In fact, my mom still has her collection of Nancy Drew books from when she was a kid, and despite my having outgrown the books years ago and not having kids of my own, she’s been reluctant to let them go.

 

I liked Nancy and read the books faithfully when I was younger, along with Trixie Belden (who I thought was a lot more interesting), but it was another kid detective who stole my heart. I loved and still love Nate the Great. 

 

Nate first appeared in print in 1972. The series was one of the first chapter book series published by Putnam, and despite original author Marjorie Weinman Sharmat’s passing in 2019, they continue to be published today.

 

So who is Nate the Great? If you’ve never read the series, he’s a 9-year-old kid detective (think a mini Sam Spade) who solves "cases" in his neighbourhood along with his dog sludge. Nate wears his trademark trench coat and Sherlock Holmes-style hat, and loves (and I mean LOVES) pancakes which he accepts as payment for solving the mysteries.

 

Along with Nate, the books also introduce an interesting cast of supporting characters. There’s Annie, an African-American girl who is one of Nate’s best friends and her dog Fang, Rosamond, a very goth-looking girl who is always described as “strange," (remember this is a 9-year-old boy POV) owns four cats, and is crushing on Nate, the wise Esmerelda, and his sometimes adversaries Finley and Pip. I always had a soft spot for Rosamond, but they’re all interesting and likeable characters.

 

So what is it about Nate that has allowed him to endure for almost 50 years? Firstly, the humour. They are genuinely clever and witty stories, and at the time, books like these were something pretty rare for the age group. I remember most of the books I read as a child, and I can’t think of anything else that was comparable to these when I was 6 or 7 and moving away from picture books and readers.  While the category has greatly expanded since then, these are still stand out for me.

 

I also loved Nate’s autonomy. It seems like all he ever had to do was leave a note for his mother telling her that he was on a case, and that was perfectly fine. In Nate the Great Goes Undercover, Nate goes on an overnight stakeout to figure out who or what is going through his neighbour Oliver’s trashcan. In fact, Nate was so dedicated to solving the case that he even crawled inside the trash can. You really have to appreciate Nate’s dedication. He’ll work a case until he solves it, only briefly stopping for pancakes to help him keep up his strength.

 

Another of Nate’s characteristics that kids find so appealing is his blunt, deadpan delivery. In the first sentence of the first book, Nate introduces himself with the line““My name is Nate the Great. I am a detective. I work alone.” He may not intend to be funny, but he truly is, and adults will appreciate the tone as much as kids do.

 

nate the great cover / three students in a hallway following the trail of a muddy robot

The humour is especially prevalent in Nate the Great and the Mushy Valentine where Nate has to figure out who left his dog a secret valentine. This is a problem because Nate really hates mushy stuff, and he makes it quite clear that he does not want to be anybody’s valentine. Thinking that Rosamond gave him a valentine, he decides to hang out in the dog house with Sludge until the valentine blows away  just to avoid having to claim it.

 

In Spring 2021, Nate returned with an all new adventure where he solves the case of the missing Earth Day robot, and it was just as funny and smart as the previous titles.

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, on Twitter, our YouTube Channel, and now on Issuu. We also encourage you to subscribe to the LSC Weekly Update, 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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As a parent I prepared by reading all of the books. I still do not have all of the answers, but I know how I want to handle the big stuff. Having two primary aged children, it never dawned on me that one day I would have to answer some really tough questions about death in the middle of a global pandemic. During a time where the world was experiencing greater distance and isolation, my family experienced a number of losses. Not knowing what to do, since the person I always went to for advice was gone, I reached for books. 

 

tears by Sibylle Delacroix / a black and white drawing of a young girl from the nose up, crying, against a teal background.When I needed a way to explain why mommy was crying, reading Tears by Sibylle Delacroix with my children was a great way to normalize and talk about tears. It was amazing to see my children grasp how it is okay to process our emotions through tears. They were able to connect the dots by saying, “Mommy, are your tears coming out because you miss Grandma?” This enabled me to be open about my sadness and show how expressing your feelings when someone passes away is a good thing, even if it’s a sad thing.

 

when grandfather flew by patricia maclachlin and chris sheban / a chalk drawing of three young children standing in a field, with a tent behind them, looking up into the skyTo help my children draw their own conclusions about life after death, books were that inspiration and support I needed. I loved the beautiful connection made in When Grandfather Flew by Patricia MacLachlin and Chris Sheban, where Milo imagines his Grandfather as a Bald Eagle. It reminds me of when I was four years old and my grandfather said he wanted to be a cat basking in the sun all day.  After a long battle with cancer, my grandfather passed. Later, my grandma adopted a cat and I loved imagining that my grandpa was that cat basking in the sun.  My children love to imagine Grandma is playing fetch with our dog, Buddy.

 

old pearl by wendy wehman / a water colour drawing of a yellow chickThe loss of a pet has a profound impact on young children as well. I really enjoyed reading Old Pearl by Wendy Wahman, where you could see the bond between Theo and Pearl grow until they had to say goodbye. Recently, I have had fellow parents reach out after suffering the loss of a loved one asking, “How do I explain this to my child when I can barely cope myself?”  I always recommend a good book. When you do not have the words, books are always there to start that dialogue. There are a few upcoming titles that also explore these issues, including The Sour Cherry Tree by Naseem Hrab, releasing in Oct 2021; and If You Miss Me by Jocelyn Li Langrand, releasing in Dec 2021.

 

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

 

Stay tuned and be kind!

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In light of the many industry-wide supply chain issues impacting publishing and libraries, both LSC and the publishers are advocating for early ordering as much as possible. We thought it made sense to give a bit of space to why early ordering is important, and how LSC's catalogue and ARPs make it easy.

 

Early Ordering refers to ordering books before they are published. LSC considers anything ordered more than three weeks before publication an Early Order. Once we know an item will be published, sometimes up to 18 months in advance, it is available to order. This includes DVDs, which are available to order the day the movie is released in theaters.

 

For many collections, a fair amount of the materials your patrons will want won’t depend on what they are about, but who they are by. As an example: we know that James Patterson will release many new books this year. Often the items will be known by a placeholder title, like James Patterson Chef Detective #5. This item will go into our ordering catalogue, at which point you can pre-order it straight away, and get that On-Order MARC into your system and generating holds. If you have an ARP, the Selectors will be aware of the item and might order it for your account immediately, depending on the instructions in your ARP profile. 

 

A few months before publication, the publisher officially updates the title to James Patterson’s Five Star Murder. We update the title information in the record, and include the item in selection lists, catalogues, etc. which are available digitally via Issuu and within the ordering catalogue. For Best and Solid Seller titles, these will be listed in our Notables catalogues, which list all the items that will be published in the coming quarter, not the previous. Meaning, anything ordered from these lists when they are released will be an Early Order.

 

Part of the process of ordering books from vendors is shipping time from the publisher. This is because library vendors, unlike commercial vendors, do not keep a standing inventory of items in house. Items post-publication are shipped to us as they are ordered. This adds time to when a library will receive an item. If everyone orders James Patterson’s Five Star Murder in advance, we know that we need to bring in x number of copies straight away. With the industry delays affecting shipping times, both from manufacturing centers overseas, and from distribution centers once they have arrived, publishers are already seeing delays by weeks or months past the initial street date, and are warning buyers that reprints will be effectively non-existent for the next while. Meaning, once the original print run is gone, it's gone. They have said that they will increase initial print runs based on pre-orders.

 

Normally, LSC would receive pre-pub items a few weeks before the street date. Our cataloguers and processors then set to work on the copies that need such things (taking a couple days for priority items), and the item moves to shipping, where it awaits each library's shipping day, to arrive before street date. If you wait to order the book until the date you could also buy it at Chapters or Costco, we have to wait for the item to come from publisher, then also go through our processes. Time that was saved by other libraries pre-ordering the item.

 

In the midst of these delays, we receive items when the publisher is able to get them to us. We push the items through our internal processes at the same rate as before (due to our internal efficiencies, we're largely moving as fast as we can already). And the items arrive at the library with their next shipment. As of the date of this publication, publisher's haven't officially moved any pub dates, which means the majority of items won't be meeting street date. This is a reality for everyone. If publisher's start moving street dates, we'll keep you updated via our Weekly Newsletter

 

Delays or not, by taking advantage of early ordering, you guarantee your number of copies for your patrons, and save yourself weeks or months of additional delays, or worse, the announcement that the title has already gone out of print.

 

Finding items available for early ordering is easy. Aside from the ones listed in the Bestseller Catalogues, you can search for items via the Advanced Search Screen within the catalogue. Searching Author is the best way to find materials pre-publication, then limit your search via "publication date" to either “Next 30 Days”, “Next 90 days”, or choose a date range in the future. Ordering is otherwise normal. Additionally, our Selection Lists allow you to access specific content relevant to you and order directly from the list.

 

Unique to LSC is our Budget Management system, which allows you to identify your annual budget by collection type, track what you’ve spent and are committed to spend within the calendar year. The remainder that you are committed to within this report would fall into a future budget, and therefore if you are doing early ordering well in advance, you are able to simply and accurately track that budget. And you’ll always know exactly how much you have left to spend.

 

LSC's Selectors are here to help with any Ordering assistance they can provide. All our Selection Services come without charge. You don't have to be on an ARP to have our Selector build your library lists or even carts. They are also happy to work with you to identify specific authors that are high interest that you should keep a regular eye out for. And those libraries that are on ARP, if you want to change any instructions in your profile to promote early ordering, you can do so at any time. Please contact Jamie Quinn for all your Selection assistance.

 

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

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LSC wraps up its year tomorrow, and we decided to look back at a messy, unpredictable year that was and present the second annual LSC Awards for Performance. The following items were compiled using our internal sales data based on number of units purchased collectively by our client libraries between July 2020 and June 2021. All the material listed here is available for your convenience in Slist 45438, in case you missed any of these hits.

 

a time for mercy by john grisham / space and a sunrise at the end of a long country road with a large tree at the end.The first award is for Adult Fiction. John Grisham’s Time for Mercy topped our charts this year. This is a sequel to both his first novel, A Time to Kill, published 32 years ago, as well as 2013’s Sycamore Row. It appears that his return to southern courtrooms was well anticipated. Don’t worry though, he released another two novels this past year. He’s not going anywhere.

 

The top selling Adult Non-Fiction was the memoir of former US President Barack Obama, Promised Land. I can’t possibly think why in 2020 there would have been such an interest and nostalgia for Obama’s hopeful terms of office. Must have been a coincidence.

 

salma the syrian chef by ahmad danny ramadan and illustrated by Anna Bron / an illustration of a young girl holding a bowl and wearing a chef's hat, with nine people of various ethnicities behind herThe prize for Picture Book is the delightful Salma the Syrian Chef, by Ahmad Danny Ramadan, illustrated by Anna Bron. This delightful book follows a recent newcomer and refugee to Canada as she tries to cheer up her mother by making food from home. A wonderful message of community and hope, and a subject that is seemingly evergreen.

 

Marking our first repeat winner at the LSC Awards, following a similar performance in the category of Juvenile Fiction is Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Deep End by Jeff Kinney. Yes, the adventures of Greg continue in the 15th(!) installment of the series. This one follows directly on from last year’s winner Wrecking Ball, and will continue in Big Shot, coming in October of 2021.

 

Best Young Adult Fiction goes to Cousins by Karen M. McManus. This mystery thriller following three cousins as they unravel the web of family secrets left behind by their mysterious grandmother was a hit, perhaps reminding people of the twists and dark turns of VC Andrews.

 

This Place: 150 years told / an illustrated half face of a young indigenous child standing before the world, with north america centredTop selling Adult Graphic Novel this year was the exquisite This Place: 150 Years Retold, an anthology of stories by 11 Indigenous authors and illustrators, telling diverse stories of Indigenous peoples across Canada, and what they have experienced in the time since Contact. An essential component of any library collection.

 

Our second repeat winner runs the table yet again in Juvenile Graphic Novel, as Dav Pilkey defends the title with Dog-man: Grime and Punishment. The ninth in the series, though far from the last as a tenth book has also been released and an eleventh is on the way. Will Pilkey retain this position for a third year? Only you can determine that.

 

With this past year being one of the stranger for the film industry, with no master blockbusters having been released, it is nice to see that the top selling DVD this year was the winner of Best Picture at the Academy Awards, Nomadland. Directed by Chloe Zhao and starring Frances McDormand, this quiet film about the modern nomads of America stuck a cord in a year where there were fewer CGI explosions to drown it out.

 

super mario 3d world plus bowser's fury / a busy picture centred on the title, with mario, luigi, princess peach, mario in a cat suit, princess in a cat suit, and mario and bowser junior staring at a giant volcano BowserTop Selling Video Game was a wider field this year, as there were two generations of Playstation and two generations of Xbox on the market. And yet, winner of this category goes to Super Mario: 3D World and Bowser's Fury on the Nintendo Switch. Yes, everyone’s favourite plumber – who turned 35th this year – jumped over the turtles and mushrooms of the competition and landed on the flag pole at the top of the charts.

 

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

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Two years ago, Playaway launched the Wonderbook as a digital solution to the decreasing number of book-and-disc read-along books. Two years on, and Wonderbook continues to amaze, now with chapters books joining the collection.

 

Every Wonderbook is a library-bound print book with a ready-to-play audiobook mounted on the inside cover. No need for additional equipment, an internet connection, or anything. It circulates like a print book with no packaging or additional pieces to manage. And the device is mounted using the strongest adhesive, ensuring that it will remain a single unit regardless of wear and tear. Let kids pick their own storytime with hundreds of read-alongs from the world's best children's book publishers. All with the crisp, clean audio that Playaway is known for.

 

The device is easy to use for kids, and easy to maintain for library staff. The one-touch power and reset buttons are soft, self-sealing to prevent liquids from seeping into the device. The outside-facing speaker allows for the highest quality audio performance, with no muffling as the pages turn. For those long car rides or post-bed time stories, the device has a headphone jack for independent listening.

 

the bottom corner of the inside cover of a picture book, with a Wonderbook audio device, a black triangle, mounted inside. Like the Launchpad, the Wonderbook uses a universal micro-USB charging port, the standard for Android devices. The device charges in 1 hour and delivers up to 10 hours of play once fully charged. This is an average of 50 listens before recharge needed. At LSC, samples that have sat on the shelf the length of the pandemic are still charged 16 months later!

 

After reading along, kids can switch Wonderbook into Learning Mode to keep talking about the book they just read. This fun, narrator-led question and answer session offers open-ended, educator-vetted questions about the story they just read. Not only is this a powerful way to teach parents how to dialogue with their children about books, it also builds comprehension, as the child will stop and think about what they’ve just read. This active listening will set them on a path to success and good information literacy. In all, Read-along and Learning Mode provide two wonderful Wonderbook experiences.

 

a young black girl with pigtails reading a copy of Duck on a Bike, a picture book featuring a cartoon duck riding a bicycleAt launch, Wonderbooks were available as picture, leveled readers, and early chapter books. Now, Wonderbook is also available on select chapter books as well, for those kids who need a little extra help with comprehension. Research shows that hearing and seeing words at the same time can improve reading success rates, at any age. Wonderbook gives kids an edge with vocabulary development, phonics, and comprehension, plus encourages deeper engagement with every book.

 

If you are interested in starting, or growing, your Wonderbook collection, LSC is your one-stop source for everything you need. ARP and customized selection is available, as well as cataloguing and processing on all titles. All customer support, invoices, and shipping is done through LSC, with Canadian dollars and taxes. We can also provide merchandising materials for free from Playaway, to create patron awareness and boost circulation. For more information, check out the Playaway Wonderbook site, or if you are interested in ordering, email Karrie Vinters to explore the possibilities with Wonderbook.

 

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

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60 years ago, the recently deceased Norton Juster published the children’s fantasy novel The Phantom Tollbooth, probably never imagining that it would still be popular 60 years later, or that it would become a children’s classic. 

 

I first met Milo and company when I was 9-years-old and in 4th grade. My teacher was a big believer in reading novels aloud, and she started reading us Juster’s book. I’ve always loved reading, but of all the books I’ve ever read or had read to me, this one is not only my favourite children’s book, but my favourite book of all time, and one which I’ve revisited several times as an adult.

 

phantom tollbooth cover / a drawing of milo and a dog creature with a clock imbedded in its side, on a blue fieldIf you’re not familiar with the story, it begins with a bored little boy named Milo, who despite having a room full of toys and games, is bored. Sounds like a familiar scenario right? One day, a mysterious package arrives in his room. He has no idea where it came from or who sent it, but he decides to open it. Inside the package is a tollbooth and a map of the Lands Beyond, including the Kingdom of Wisdom. Lacking anything else to do, he decides to try it out.

 

After going through the tollbooth, Milo finds himself on a road that is decidedly not his apartment, and this is where his adventure begins. As he travels through Wisdom, Milo learns the history of the kingdom, and is set on an important quest. You see, once upon a time, the Kingdom was ruled by two brothers. One was a word wizard, the other a math magician. They also had two sisters named Rhyme and Reason who kept balance in the kingdom.

 

Let’s just say that the brothers had some issues sharing power, each thinking that they were the more important. In an attempt to settle their quarrel once and for all, they called upon their sisters to tell them whether numbers or letters were the more important. The sisters ruled that both were equally important, enraging the brothers who banished them to the Castle in the Air, and split the kingdom in two- Dictionopolis and Digitopolis.

 

Now if it were up to Milo, who seldom stayed interested in anything for long, he’d probably have just gone home and abandoned the Tollbooth to a corner with his other toys. Instead, however, King Azas the Unabridged (can you guess which kingdom he rules over?) tricks Milo into accepting a quest to rescue the princesses and restore rhyme and reason to the kingdom (literally and figuratively).

 

Throughout his journey, Milo travels to the land of Expectations which is literally whatever you expect it to be, gets stuck in the Doldrums which is about as dull and drab as you’d imagine, visits a word market where words and letters are sold, and attends a banquet where guests literally eat their words.

 

He also meets a number of colourful characters such as the Whether Man who tells him whether there will be whether instead of what the weather will be, the Which Witch known as Faintly Macabre, a spelling bee, and the "watch" dog named Tock (who actually goes tick) whose job it is to keep people from killing time, and a 12-sided creature called Dodecahedron to name a few.

 

Once his quest is complete, Milo is returned home. He immediately makes plans to return the next day after school, but discovers that the Tollbooth is a lot like Mary Poppins, and only goes where it’s needed. While he’s mildly disappointed by this, he also looks at his own world with fresh eyes and realizes that he has lots to do right there.

 

As a kid, I loved the adventure, the fantasy world, and the strange characters. By that point I was well into books by Roald Dahl and C.S. Lewis, and I’d gone down the Rabbit hole and into Oz, but this was something entirely different. I’m not sure if I fully understood the deeper messages of the book when I was 9, but the subtlety, along with the word play, is what makes it brilliant.

 

We can all relate to Milo, and kids aren’t the only ones who have looked around at all of their stuff and still complained of having nothing to do. Milo also learns that memorization (which he associates with education) is not the same as learning, and that law isn’t the same as justice. He learns to think in the abstract, the danger of jumping to conclusions, not to accept conformity, and to appreciate the journey and not focus solely on getting to where he’s trying to go.

 

Perhaps the most important takeaway from the book comes when Milo learns that the quest was supposed to be impossible. He was able to succeed because he believed in what was possible and not what wasn’t, and that’s something we can all do well to remember. 

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, on Twitter, our YouTube Channel, and now on Issuu. We also encourage you to subscribe to the LSC Weekly Update, 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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I love speculative novels that pose interesting questions that apply to real life, and particularly ones that have no easy answers.  Is it worth sacrificing your identity if it also meant erasing your most painful memories? If you knew you had a day left to live, how would you spend it? These questions are the central ideas of the novels by the brilliant YA writer Adam Silvera.

 

More happy than not cover / the title in large blue block letters, imposed over a close up of a yellow smiley faceSeveral years ago I had the privilege of getting to know Adam when we both contributed to the same blog. Adam was on the cusp of publishing his first novel More Happy Than Not (which recently published a 5th anniversary edition). Since then, Adam has published several more books, and in all of them he tackles the heavy questions of love, loss, identity, and how we live. 

 

Comped to the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, More Happy Than Not follows 15-year-old Aaron Soto who is struggling with grief over his father’s suicide, and issues of identity, love, and self-acceptance. Adam is lucky in that he has a supportive mother and girlfriend, but his mom works two jobs and can’t be around all of the time, and while his girlfriend tries, he just can’t seem to make himself happy.

 

When his girlfriend goes away to art camp for a couple of weeks, he starts hanging out with new kid Thomas. When he’s with Thomas, he feels happy and safe, but Thomas’ constant presence is creating tension within his group of friends and his girlfriend, and the deeper his feelings grow, the more terrified he becomes.

 

Desperate to do something, he considers undergoing a controversial memory alteration procedure that claims to erase painful memories. If it works, maybe it can erase his grief, and help him get over being gay. But what if it also ends up erasing him?

 

It’s a wonderful work of speculative fiction, and it begs the question how far would you go to erase painful memories? Are our identities shaped by our memories, and in erasing those memories, we do effectively erase what makes us ourselves. Is that cost worth it to give us the happy ending we so desperately want, or is life, as Aaron concludes, “more happy than not?”

 

Ithey both die at the end cover / who figures in sahdown walking along a railing while behind them, a city scape is haloed by a full moonn his third novel They Both Die At the End , Silvera gives his readers another philosophical question to ponder: How would you spend your last day?

 

The novel focuses on two teenaged boys named Mateo and Rufus, who thanks to the company Death-Cast’s predictive technology, learn they have one day left to live. The tech isn’t so far advanced as to give them an exact time or cause of death, and there’s always the niggly question of whether death can be cheated.

 

Initially, the conservative Mateo planned to spend the day in his apartment, but on a whim decides to spend his last day actually living. He meets Rufus through the Last Friend App- an app designed to give Deckers (the dying) someone to hang out with on their last day. They decide to go full on Carpe Diem, and as the day progresses, their friendship turns into something deeper.

 

As I was reading, I found myself imagining what I would do in their shoes. Would I try to see all of my family and friends and say goodbye? Would I try some of the things I always wanted to do but was too afraid to, or would I play it safe and stay in bed reading or watching tv hoping to cheat fate?

 

What I found particularly interesting about the scenario is how knowing your death date can shape your choices. Throughout the day, Mateo and Rufus have numerous close calls where they think “this is the moment. This is how I die,” but being in that place at that time is 100% driven by the choices they made as a result of knowing that they will die before the day is up. If it was a day like any other, there are probably 100 choices that you might make that doesn’t put you in harm’s way, or maybe knowing doesn’t matter because fate is fixed and you were destined to die. The paperback edition is currently on the NYT besteller list, so now's a good time to add it to your collection if you don't already have it. 

 

The second book in Silvera's new Infinity Cycle fantasy series, called Infinity Reaper, released this past March, and both of those titles are definitely worth adding to your YA collection.

 

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

 

Happy Readings!

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June is National Indigenous Peoples History month and today, June 21st, is National Indigenous Peoples History Day. As Settlers, we are educating ourselves on the history and heritage of Indigenous Peoples, and reflecting on how we can contribute to the ongoing process of reconciliation. Today, we present without commentary several resources that can be used to aid others in their journeys of education and reflection.

 

LSC operates on the traditional territory of ‎the Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe, and Attawandaron, on the Haldimand Tract. On October 25, 1784, Sir Frederick Haldimand, the governor of Québec, “granted” this tract of 950,000 acres, - of which only 5% remains - to the Haudenosaunee, also known as the Six Nations, for their service during the American Revolution. The Haldimand Tract extends 10 kilometers on both sides of the Grand River, from Dundalk Township to Lake Erie.

 

To find out whose land you are located on, the interactive map Native-Land.ca allows you to search by address and see who called this home first. It also allows you to toggle between territories, languages, and treaties. The map’s creators are quick to point out that this map is not meant to be definitive, but an educational tool that is meant to start how we think about where we live. They also provide a quick form to be alerted of errors or required updates.

 

The Residential School System in Canada is a long-standing tragedy that many Canadians are only just discovering. The CBC has developed a map that allows you to enter an address and identify the nearest residential school to that location. It also provides the years the school was operational , and can be a good starting point in your research and learning. Additionally, the Government of Canada has set up a 24-hour National Indian Residential School Crisis Line, for those experiencing trauma from the Residential School system. Callers can access emotional and crisis referral services at 1-866-925-4419. 

 

Critical resources in our reconciliation journey are the reports and materials generated by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. These reports include the 94 Calls to Action that were delivered in 2015, but include a wide array of valuable, educational, historical materials that uncover the full scope and impact of colonization on the Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island.

 

For some library focused material, the Canadian Federation of Library Associations has its own report, delivered in February 2017 and endorsed by 33 library associations and organizations across Canada. This report contains 10 calls to actions for libraries to aid in decolonization and indigenization efforts.

 

Looking to add some educational credentials to your experience? The University of Alberta offers both a credited and an audited primer course in Indigenous Canada through their Faculty of Native Studies. This 12-week beginner course is a primer for any stage of your journey. 

 

If you are looking for book and film recommendations for either your own learning, or to aid in your educating of children, teens, and other adults, educator Megan Tipler has compiled a massive list of materials across all ages and collection types, all of which are by Indigenous authors. She also has a small list of works by non-Indigenous authors that are of particular note and value. She makes notes where some works may be problematic and includes a short list of authors to actively avoid. You can follow her on Instagram @tiplerteaches where she has links to her resources, including book displays and posters.

 

IMBD has a list of films on the subject of Residential Schools for your reference, and NFB has curated a collection of shorts by Indigenous filmmakers and allies on the impact of the Residential School System. CBC Gem also has a selection of documentaries, including Inendi and We Were Children, to watch.

 

This is far from an exhaustive list of resources. It does, however, provide a starting point for those seeking to learn more, re-educate themselves, and be a better - and better informed - ally moving forward.

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As part of our ARP services, we manage the holds lists for a few of our libraries, and in the last few weeks I noticed something interesting in the holds. While most are current bestselling titles or the latest celebrity book club title from Oprah or Reese, once in a while an older title pops up that gives me pause.

 

song of achilles by madeline miller / a golden Grecian helmet on a turquois fieldSong of Achilles by Madeline Miller, a nearly 10-year-old fiction book with a moderate amount of popularity suddenly spiked on three different lists, prompting me to do a bit of digging into why. My first assumption was that there was recent media surrounding the book such as a TV appearance, or a movie or TV announcement but that wasn’t the case. After a bit more investigating, I discovered that the book is very popular on “TikTok, signaling the growing influence of the book side of TikTok.

 

If you’re not familiar with TikTok, it’s a video-sharing social network used to share a variety of short-form videos ranging from 15 seconds to a minute. In recent months, the bookish community have started using the platform to post videos recommending books and about and their general love of books, now commonly referred to as BookTok.

 

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by Victoria Schwab / the title on a black field with a constellation within the word, connected with golden threadIn addition to popularizing Miller’s book, one viral video significantly increased sales in Victoria Schwab’s The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, Midnight Library by Matt Haig, and They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera, all three of which are books I highly recommend as well.

 

Now publishers are wisely recognizing the value and influence of BookTok just as they did with bloggers several years ago, and are not only creating a presence for themselves on the platform, but are reaching out to the BookTokers to send them advance reading copies of books they’d like to promote, and even paying them to make videos about them.

 

midnight library by matt haig / a white building filled with rainbow light, against a blue-black fieldRight now, the platform is primarily used by the 16-30 age range, with YA fiction being some of the most talked about books, but it has been invaluable in bringing attention to books with more diverse plots and authors, as well as introducing readers to genres and titles that they may never have discovered otherwise.

 

If you’re interested in checking out BookTok, sign up for a free TikTok account, and search the hashtag #Booktok where you’ll find a variety of creators to follow. Searching that hashtag also brought up #BookRecommendations and #bookish for some additional book-related content. I confess that I was somewhat overwhelmed when I first started looking into it, but there’s something for everybody including  dystopian, books that had the reader sobbing, heartbreaking books, if you like this Netflix show, read this, and books that the reader would “sell their soul” to read again. That last one certainly piqued my curiosity!

 

they both die at the end by adam silvera / two figures in silhouette walk along a railing with a grim reaper cast in their shadow. in the background a city scape rises, with a full moon peaking out behind a skyscraperAs for what caused the sudden explosion of BookTok? Some people attribute it to the ongoing pandemic to driving more people online, and with bookstores and libraries being closed across the U.S. and Canada, it does seem natural that people would start using social media to find like-minded people. It probably also helps that more and more authors are joining the community and discussing their writing process, which definitely appeals to the sector of their fandom who love to analyze all of the details of a favourite book.

 

If time is a at a premium (and when isn’t it to be honest), and you just want to know what books are popular, you can find a top 10 BookTok list on Indigo’s website, a slightly longer BookTok list on Barnes and Noble, or on the Goodreads BookTok shelf.

 

It’s hard to predict how BookTok will evolve over the next few years, but if Miller’s surge in popularity is any indication, I think it's safe to predict that it will become an increasingly important place for book discussion and discovery.

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, on Twitter, our YouTube Channel, and now on Issuu. We also encourage you to subscribe to the LSC Weekly Update, 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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