Blog - Library Services Centre

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 cycling. I'm passionate about it. But not in a spandex-body-suit-and-bullet-shaped-helmet sort of way. I'm passionate about it as a regular old form of transportation. One that predates the car (and was only beaten by the train by 13 years). I love biking to work. I love biking in the rain. Even *gasp* in the snow. So, since June was Bike Month, here are some books about bikes.

 

a 19th century drawing of a man on a primitive bicycleBut first, here is my favourite fact about bicycles: they contributed to the Women's Rights Movement, and the Feminist Movement in general. The bike was invented in 1817 by German inventor Karl von Drais because two years prior a volcanic eruption on the other side of the world caused massive crop failures across the world, and his horses died (this is, by the way, my second favourite fact about bicycles). Horseless and with places to be, Karl invented a proto-bike that he could power himself to get from place to place. And his invention might have been forgotten, except that by the end of the century they were adopted by women as a method of escape and self-expression.

 

The Victorian era was not great for giving a lot of liberties to women, but with a bike they could peddle about town, through the park, to tea on their own *gasp*! This, you might expect, caused a stir in society. Not just because women were riding amok, but also because the act of peddling meant that their legs might be seen by random passers-by *gasp*. So, to cover their legs while biking, women began wearing that most corrupting and sinister of garments: pants.

 

an ancient greek vase depicting five Amazons wearing leather and battling with shields and spearsMy favourite fact about pants, by the way, is that they had been invented about 3000 earlier by women. The Scythians were a horse-driven nomadic people living on the steppes north of the Black Sea, and were known for being completely gender neutral in their politics. Women were equal to men, went to war, ruled their society. But riding a horse can get a bit... chaffy, so the fierce warrior women of Scythia invented pants as a solution. These pant-wearing Scythians were so morally offensive and secretly alluring to the Greeks that they entered their myths as the Amazons, and that is my favourite fact about the Scythians.

 

What was I talking about... right, bicycles! So, Victorian women are now wearing pants and riding about town and start to get a sense that they like this "being able to wear what they want, do what they want, and go where they want" thing, and it added more fire to the growing movement towards female equality. Pants went on to play a powerful role in the Feminist movement. Pockets, however, were not integral to either gender equality or riding bikes, and so the struggle continues. 

 

little pig, the bicycle and the moon by pierrette dube / a drawing of an enthusiastic pig riding a bike under a crescent moon while two chickens watch in amazement. If you would like to read more about the places where bicycles and feminists cross paths, I suggest Bikes Not Rockets: Intersectional Feminist Bicycle Science Fiction Stories edited by Elly Blue. If you are interested in the adventures of a girl called Bicycle, I recommend Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle by Christina Uss. Switching gears (see what I did there?), there is Na'ar ha-ofanayim / Bicycle boy by Eli Amir. And at an entirely different speed (eh eh) there is Little Pig, the Bicycle, and the Moon by Pierrette Dube.

 

Recommendations continue with the likes of Red Bicycle: The Extraordinary Story of One Ordinary Bicycle by Jude Isabella. Add to that Bicycle by Adonia Lugo, and Splendid Book of the Bicycle by Daniel Tatarsky, and Tour de Oz: The Extraordinary Story of the First Bicycle Race Around Australia by Brett Harris.
 
chain breaker bike book by shelly lynn jackson / a drawing of a bike in disrepair, in purpleIf you want to know how your bicycle works, give Chainbreaker bike book : a rough guide to bicycle maintenance by Shelly Lynn Jackson a gander. And if you'd rather just colour some bicycles, there is the Classic Bicycle Coloring Book by Taliah Lempert.

 

Bicycles are wonderful. During the pandemic, there has been a bike shortage because no one was at work and everyone remembered how wonderful it is to take a ride and feel the wind on your neck. And with electric bikes (which provide a slightly powered assist) and a vast array of cargo bikes, they are splendid replacements for the car in a time when fewer cars on the road is more and more climatically important. And bikes are considerably cheaper. And they run on hamburgers. Or carrots. Anything really. Cheese.

 

So, what are the lessons here? One, pants lead to revolution. Two, pants make you more attractive to repressed ancient Greeks. Three, bicycles are better than dead horses and living cars. But not living cars like in the movie Cars. Are there bikes in the Cars movies? Are they all cyclops? Or the skeletons of motorcycles? I've started to think too much about this; better end things before it gets weird. 

 

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.

 

Fictionally Yours,

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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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The world seems regularly intent on reminding us of the uglier sides of humanity. In that shadow, we would like to highlight and celebrate amazing works and contributions to the world of books, so that we can all read, learn, and share in the world together. It is so important to have affirming stories such as the titles below, especially in the face of violent discrimination.

 

Representation matters. This has been known for so long, but largely ignored by those in positions of power. A recent report suggests that the entertainment industry is ignoring $10 billion a year by not creating content that is created by, and focuses on, people of colour, minority voices, and diverse backgrounds.

 

The children’s book industry has seen steady improvements in the presentation of characters over the last few years, and it is important for libraries to make sure their collections are as diverse as their patrons. With that in mind, here is a small collection of children’s and YA material that highlights Asian creators and perspectives.

 

Eyes That Kiss the Corners by Joanna Ho / a girl's long black hair blows in the wind, while she smells a flower and a butterfly floats byIn Eyes That Kiss the Corners by Joanna Ho, a little girl notices that her eyes look different than the people around her, but she has the same eyes as her mother, grandmother and sister. This is a story about how a little girl learns to love herself and celebrate her personal beauty, not the standards of others.

 

Dim Sum for Everyone by Grace Lin / a young girl holds up a plate and chopsticksDim Sum for Everyone by Grace Lin shows a Chinese American family sitting down to enjoy a traditional dim sum meal. Dumplings, cakes, buns, and tarts are all brought out together and each family member gets to choose a favorite food. The author includes a note for parents, teachers, and children who want to learn more about the origins and practice of dim sum.

 

The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi / a young girl drops slips of paper into a glass jarIn The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi, Unhei has just moved to America from Korea and is worried that the kids in her class will not be able to pronounce her name. Instead, she tells the class that she will choose a name the next week. The kids decide to help her out by filling a glass jar with potential names for her to pick from. But while Unhei practices all the names in the jar, a new friend discovers her real name and the special meaning behind it, which helps change Unhei’s feelings about herself.

 

Laxmi’s Mooch by Shelly Anand / a young girl sits with her head in her hands, smiling at a cloud of butterflies surrounding herIn Laxmi’s Mooch by Shelly Anand, Laxmi has never really noticed the tiny hairs above her lip, but one day at school her friends point out that her “whiskers” would make her the perfect cat. She then starts to notice hair all over her body. Laxmi’s parents explain that hair is not just for heads, instead it grows everywhere, regardless of gender. Laxmi’s Mooch is a positive celebration of our bodies and body hair no matter how we grow.

 

Outside, Inside by LeUyen Pham / a young girl and a black cat with their backs to us stare out a windowLeUyen Pham has a new picture book this year called Outside, Inside. This story looks at the sudden need during the global pandemic for everyone to be inside all the time. Except, as the main character discovers, some people still need to keep going outside. The book celebrates essential workers and how communities have come together to face the challenges brought on by COVID-19.

 

Count Me In by Varsha Bajaj / a collection of 15 faces of various ages, genders, and ethnicities For middle grade reading, make sure to have a copy of Count Me In by Varsha Bajaj. One afternoon Karina, her friend Chris, and her grandfather are assaulted by a strander who targets them because of their appearance. Karina’s grandfather is severely injured, so Karina and Chris decide to take matters into their own hands and do something about it. They post a few photos of the attack on social media and it quickly goes viral. Soon diverse groups of people begin to post their own photos as the community comes together to reject hate and racism.

 

Finding Junie Kim by Ellen Oh / a young girl walks through a field, while in the background slightly covered in fog is a pagodaFinding Junie Kim by Ellen Oh (the cofounder of We Need Diverse Books) is an OwnVoices story of family, hope, and survival. Junie does not want attention so she keeps her head down at school. But when racist graffiti appears at her school, Junie must decide between staying silent or speaking out. At the same time, Junie’s history teacher assigns a project and Junie decides to interview her grandparents, through which she learns about their experiences as children during the Korean War. Junie comes to admire her grandma’s fierce determination to overcome impossible odds, and her grandpa’s unwavering compassion during wartime. As the racism becomes more active at school, Junie taps into these traits and finds the courage to do what is right.

 

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang / a young Chinese boy half out of the frame of the cover, against a bright yellow field.For Young Adult collections, a new paperback edition of American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang is now available. American Born Chinese is the winner of the 2007 Michael L. Printz Award, a 2006 National Book Award Finalist for Young People's Literature, the winner of the 2007 Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album: New, an Eisner Award nominee for Best Coloring, a 2007 Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year, and a New York Times bestseller. An essential title for your bookshelves.

 

We Are Not Free by Traci Chee / four asian teens crowd around a pile of crates in front of a corrugated wallAnd finally, We Are Not Free by Traci Chee, a New York Times best-selling author, tells the story of a close-knit group of young Nisei - second-generation Japanese American citizens - whose lives are irrevocably changed by the mass U.S. incarcerations of World War II. This book is a National Book Award Finalist, Printz Honor Book Finalist, and Walter Honor Books recipient.

 

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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Have you ever had a book or a series that you absolutely loved when you were a child, only to realize that it doesn’t hold up under a 21st century lens? If it has, you’re not alone. As the world changes, so does how we look at beloved movies, television shows, and books. And sometimes, especially when it comes to our favourite children’s books, what we find when we revisit them as adults can be disappointing and disturbing. Feeling nostalgia for a particular story doesn’t mean the problems aren’t there or that we shouldn’t acknowledge them and address them.  

 

if i ran the zoo cover / a dr seuss creature against a bright red coverClassic children’s literature is going through something of a reckoning as librarians, publishers, and the public come to terms with some of the more troubling aspects of our childhood favourites. Recently, Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced a decision to stop publishing and licensing six of the titles from their catalogue including: If I Ran the Zoo, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, and McElligot’s Pool. The decision came last year after a review by a panel of experts (including librarians and educators) determined that the titles contained racist and offensive portrayals of Asian and Black People.

 

green eggs and ham cover / a dr seuss creature starring at a plate of green eggs against an orange fieldIt is also important to note that Seuss’s most beloved titles such as Cat in the Hat, Horton, and Green Eggs and Ham aren’t going anywhere, and the Enterprise’s decision to pull a handful of titles is in no way a suggestion that Seuss should be fully removed from the canon. For the most part the decision has been celebrated. Mullberry Street was originally published in 1937, and nearly 75 years later, it’s not surprising that some of the illustrations haven’t aged well. And the Enterprise was quick to note, the six removed titles were also among their lowest selling titles.

 

curious george cover / two police walk with a a small monkey between them, against a yellow field.Interestingly, Seuss isn’t the only popular children’s author who has come under closer scrutiny in the last decade or so. Recently, I had a conversation with a fantastic teacher librarian who mentioned that she’d pulled Curious George and Babar from her shelves. Curious George in particular has remained popular through licensing deals, including an animated PBS series that ran for 13 years and animated film. I had fond memories of the mischievous little monkey, and it’s been quite some time since I read the original stories, so I couldn’t imagine why he was problematic until I started researching it further.

 

The problem, according to critics, is the racist overtones of the books, including the generalization of George being from “Africa,” and taken by force from his home in the jungle. Likewise, there are overt colonialism themes in Babar where the text literally describes the black characters in the book “savages and cannibals.” When examined from with our 21st century views, of course we identify these problems, but the first Babar book was published in France in 1931, and the first Curious George book was published in 1941. What these authors and the general public considered appropriate was different than what we understand now. It doesn’t make it right, but understanding the world that these books came from provides context.

 

little house on the prairie cover / two young girls stare out the back of a covered wagon which rolls across the prairie Another popular series that has recently been reexamined are the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder which chronicle her pioneer/settler childhood.  I read most of the series when I was about 8-9 years old and loved it, and I have known several teachers who have selected the book as a novel study to support the pioneer/early settlers component of the Ontario Curriculum. In 2018, the American Library Association decided to drop her name from the annual award given in her name because of her racist portrayals of Native American people in her books. While some disputed the decision, pointing out that the first books in the series were published in 1931 and took place in Wisconsin in 1871, the ALA defended the decision, reminding people that they are not encouraging a ban on Wilder’s books, but simply bringing the award in-line with its values.

 

dr dolittle cover / a man with glasses in a tux and top hat stands in a clearing surrounded by jungle animalsThese are just a few examples, but it turns out that quite a few beloved children’s books (including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Tin Tin, Peter Pan, Pippi Longstocking, Dr. Doolittle, and Indian in the Cupboard) contain racist or offensive stereotypes. It would be easy to chalk it up to another time, another place, but as experts have pointed out, because we continue to read these books today, we have to look at them critically and acknowledge their mistakes. Whether they have lasting merit, or should be pulled from public library or store shelves is a decision that each org has to make for themselves. What is very true is that there are a plwalethora of alternatives that encompass diversity and inclusion and other modern values.

 

In 2014, the Walter Dean Myers Award was created to recognize published, diverse authors who champion marginalized voices. Incidentally, the ceremony for the sixth Walter Awards will be held on March 12th, with Laurie Halse Anderson as the emcee. The social media hashtags #WeNeedDiverseBooks and #OwnVoices both champion diverse books by marginalized voices, and are a great place to start if you’re trying to diversify your collection and find alternatives to some of these classic titles.

 

And of course, LSC is happy to champion diverse collections. While we compile standard lists, like our Indigenous lists each season, we’ve also recently built lists to spotlight BIPOC authors, to celebrate Black History Month, and to highlight Neurodiversity. We’re also happy to build custom lists for libraries by their request. If there is an area, theme, or voice that you want to focus on, let us know and we’ll build selection lists to make ordering easier.

 

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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Happy 2021!  Here’s to a better year going forward.  However, the year that was wasn’t all bad, so to celebrate, we asked our staff for their picks of the best books and AV from 2020.

 

In The Quick by Kate Hope Day / an astronaut against a pink backgroundMichael C. in Marketing has both a best book and a best movie.  In the Quick by Kate Hope Day is a sci-fi romance in the vein of The Martian and Station Eleven. June, an ambitious young astronaut, finds fiery romance while searching for her beloved uncle’s lost spacecraft and its crew. The Invisible Man, released all the way back in February, is Michael’s choice for best movie.  Directed by Leigh Wannell and loosely based on the H.G. Wells novel, this sci-fi horror features Elisabeth Moss as a woman trying to escape from her abusive former boyfriend, despite the fact that he’s already dead. Is it her trauma or something else haunting her?

 

Crosshairs by Catherine Hernandez / a burning pile of garbage with a cityscape on the horizonIn Cataloguing, Shannon O. has had a bumper year of reading and has really struggled to narrow down her choices of the best of 2020.  In adult fiction, her best of the best is Crosshairs by Canadian author Catherine Hernandez, a near-future dystopic novel where a queer Black performer and his allies fight against an oppressive regime and its concentration camps. In adult nonfiction, she chose The Skin We’re In by Desmond Cole, a Canadian journalist and activist who brings to light the racism and inequality he and other members of minorities struggle with in just one year. 

 

Little Women dvd cover / A close up of Saoirse Ronan, a blonde woman in a blue shirtMoving over to Selection Services, manager Jamie Q. had many picks for just about every category, but narrowed it down to these. In the Half Room by Carson Ellis, a picture fiction book about the half things in the half room. Apartment by Teddy Wayne tells the story of an unnamed narrator who invites a charismatic classmate to live with him, but their living situation puts tension on their friendship. Finally, Little Women, the latest movie version of the classic novel, this one directed by Greta Gerwig and featuring Saoirse Ronan and Florence Pugh, among others. It was a highlight of her pre-lockdown 2020.

 

Midnight Library by Matt Haig / several orange items, including whales, books, and women, passing through small windows as though weaving in and out of the book coverFiction selector Rachel S. says, for adult fiction novels, she has two top picks: Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman. In Bookish Life, the titular Nina is a happy, book-reading loner – until the father she never knew existed dies and she’s expected to meet all her new family members while dealing with her attraction to her trivia nemesis, Tom. She also recommends Midnight Library by Matt Haig

 

The Barren Grounds by David Robertson / four figures walking through snow. Two are children, one is a human sized squirrel, and one is a human bear. Both animals are dressed as humans.Juvenile selector Sara P. has this to say about her selections: “Anyone who knows me well, knows I have a great dislike of squirrels so for me to pick a book for the Best of 2020 that features a squirrel means it must be an amazing story! The Barren Grounds: Misewa Saga Book 1 by David A Robertson is a must-read Canadian middle grade story that brings Indigenous culture, both past and present together within a fun fantasy world. I recently had the opportunity to read to a group of children and I picked up AAAlligator by Judith Henderson and not only was it super fun to read aloud but the kids absolutely loved it. The sign of a great book is when not a peep is heard while the librarian is reading. A unique twist to demonstrate acceptance and a community coming together to help someone in need.”

 

To round up our staff picks of 2020, Carrie P. in HR chose the album Slow Rush by the excellently-named Tame Impala.

 

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.

 

In 2021, we will be transitioning the Green Memo into the LSC Weekly Update, delivered via MailChimp. If you want to continue to receive our weekly newsletter, and other notifications and updates, please take a second to update your profile.

 

Happy new year!

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