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Fresh! Manga Eyes

by Laura C - 0 Comment(s)

Robin Brenner in her book, "Understanding Manga and Anime" suggests that if you didn't grow up reading manga, that you might find the distinct style and symbolism used by the artists to convey meaning off-putting. For me, this is exactly the reason why I love manga: it is packed full of hidden messages that tell a story of a culture different from my own.

Over the next few months I'll attempt to share with you what, in my opinion, makes manga great! Hopefully it will encourage you to try some for yourself or at the very least, give you some insight into why your teenager has become so involved in this burgeoning fandom. So, let's start with those huge eyes...

Eyes, they say are, "a window to the soul"… and nowhere except in manga can we see this message so clearly. In manga, size of eyes is often an indicator of innocence; the bigger the eyes the “purer” the character, and vice versa. This is particularly obvious in fantasy, romantic comedy, and adventure-type stories.

cover: Kenshin vol. 1 Cover: kenshin v. 11

One of the best examples of this is in “Rurouni Kenshin” by Nobuhiro Watsuki. It is the fictional story of Himura Kenshin who was the legendary assassin Hitokiri Battosai during the Meiji Restoration. Kenshin has pledged never to kill again, and has become a wandering samurai using his sword to protect the people in an attempt to atone for his sins. But, because he is strong and because society is still in turmoil, his resolve to not kill is continually being tested. Every time his eyes change from round orbs to tight slits you know that he's about to do something dangerous!

Cover: Ceres vol. 1Another good example of this can be found in Yuu Watase’s manga. Watase is primarily known for her shoujo (for girls) fantasy stories starring cheerful and naive teenage girls. Compared to her other protagonists, Aya in "Ceres: Celestial Legend" has been drawn with a slight downward angle to her eyes. Watase intentionally uses this device to help create a heroine with a bit of "attitude".

Personally, this is my favourite of Watase's translated works. "Ceres: Celestial Legend" is about twins Aya and Aki, whose destiny's overtake them on their 16th birthday. The goddess Ceres has been reborn in Aya; her mission is to find her long lost Celestial robes which were stolen by Aya's ancestor... the man who just happens to have been reborn in Aki.

The hidden messages and meanings that are found in manga are often the same as those found in Anime (Japanese animation) -- find out even more hidden meanings in, "The Anime Companion" and, "The Anime Companion 2" by Gilles Poitras. Or, if you're interested in learning more about the symbolism and history of eyes in manga, check out the book, "Manga" by Stuart A. Kallen.

Fresh! Deadly Debuts

by Pam - 0 Comment(s)

I enjoy reading suspense filled fiction full of unusual characters. The twists and turns of new offbeat novels by Jamie Mason and Gregory Gibson kept me engaged until the last page.

Cover Three Graves FullIn "Three Graves Full", the delicious debut by Jamie Mason, you'll find a skillfull page turning thiller replete with delightfully quirky characters including two savvy detectives, a nosey surviving girlfriend and one stupendously intelligent dog. When quiet and unassuming Jason Getty decides to hire landscapers to tame his front yard it isn't long until they discover two bodies buried there. And neither one is the body that Jason knows is buried in the backyard. Jason is now petrified that his dark secret will beCover Old Turk revealed and his world quickly unwinds as he desperately tries to stay ahead of the game.

If remarkable characters appeal to you, then try Gregory Gibson's soon to be released novel "The Old Turk's Load". Set against the backdrop of the 1967 Newark riots,the lives of the shady real estate developer Richard Mundi, crime lord Angelo DiNoto, his socially activist daughter Gloria, and drug ridden cancer survivor Mailman collide in a crime spree of heroin and stolen art. It's up to private investigator "Walkaway" Kelly to discover the truth behind Gloria's revolutionary activities, but he is soon distracted by what appears to be the murder of Gloria's mother. It all cumulates in an unforgettable showdown over the Old Turk's Load.

To find these and other great new books check out Calgary Public Library's catalogue.

Quick Tip: Did you know that you can put holds on books before Calgary Public Library has them in stock? As soon as the book is ordered we create a record for it. Once you see the record in our catalogue, go ahead and place your hold!

Fresh! Dewey Decimal Class

by Lorrie - 0 Comment(s)

Have you ever wondered where the mysterious numbers come from on the spines of public library books? In fact, the library has staff who ensure that books are grouped with other books on similar topics so they can be easily discovered and browsed by customers.

Calgary Public Library staff use a numbering system called the Dewey Decimal Classification - named for its creator, Melville Dewey. Most public libraries, and many elementary school libraries use the same numbering system which groups books into 10 broad categories. Using the same system at all our branches is handy; if you use more than one public library branch, you will find the books and material labelled and arranged in the same order regardless of where you are.

Armed with your Dewey Decimal number you can find what you are looking for pretty easily. For example, when I drop my son off at Crowfoot Arena for his hockey practice, I usually pop into the Crowfoot Library and look for some budget recipe cookbooks. Hockey players eat a lot so I am always looking for recipes. The next day, when I’m down at the South Fish Creek Arena for my son's game, I visit the Shawnessy Library while he is doing his pre-game warm up. Using the same Dewey Decimal number I used at the Crowfoot Library, I can look for budget recipe cookbooks at the Shawnessy Library.

It's a useful shortcut in the same way that shopping at your neighbourhood grocery store is convenient because you know exactly where to go to get that last minute item you need for dinner. The Dewey Decimal System makes your library "shopping" and browsing a little bit easier!

Fresh! Manga

by Laura C - 0 Comment(s)

It may have escaped your notice, but the Calgary Public Library has a wonderful collection of comic books and graphic novels -- we call them graphix! Within this collection my personal favourite format is manga, (pronounced mah-n-gah) – or, Japanese comics. I borrowed my first manga nearly a decade ago from the Calgary Public Library, and I’ve been obsessively reading them ever since.

There are so many things that I love about this format: the dynamic art, fascinating stories, and engaging characters, in a wide and varying range of genres: romance, comedy, mystery, horror, science fiction, fantasy, etc. There really is something in it for everyone. If you’re new to the format and interested in giving it a try, here are three suggestions to get you started:

Yotsuba&! vol. 1 book cover Black Blizzard book cover Akira vol. 1 book cover

For the Absolute beginner or, if you like to read the “Funny Pages”, you might like:

Yotsuba&! By Kiyohiko Azuma. This series has the flavour of comic strips without relying on the regular 3-paneled format.

Yotsuba& is named for and follows the small adventures of a happy-go-lucky preschooler. The stories are short, heart-warming and laugh-out-loud funny. And although this series is shelved in the children’s area, I highly recommend this comedy-gem to readers of any age and experience level.

If you dabble in comic books, or enjoy graphic novels, you might like:

Black Blizzard by Yoshihiro Tatsumi. Black Blizzard fits into the “Gekiga” tradition of manga. Gekiga, a term coined by this author, refers to “dramatic pictures” and I feel it closely resembles the Western tradition of graphic novels. If you’ve some experience with graphic novels like Maus, Blankets, or Persepolis, this might be the manga to start with.

This story follows two criminals who attempt to escape their fate while discovering they have more links in their life than the chains binding them together.

If you’re a regular reader of American-style comic books, you might like:

Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo. This is a disturbing psychological sci-fi series set in post-apocalyptic neo-Tokyo. The story follows two orphaned teenagers and their connection with a group of scientifically modified telekinetic children. Akira is one of the children, and his power is believed to be the cause of the first apocalypse and destruction of old Tokyo – if his power reawakens, he could cause a second apocalypse as well.

When reading this series, the differences between American-style comics and manga don’t feel quite so obvious: It’s quickly paced, less stylized, and even produced in the familiar left-to-right reading direction. I urge you to give it a try.

Fresh! Vogue Archive

by Dieu - 1 Comment(s)

Keira Knightley cover Rihanna Vogue cover Uma Thurman Vogue cover Cindy Crawford cover

Vintage Vogue cover

For most people, February is that time of the year when we all must prepare ourselves for the dreaded tax season ahead, but for all you fashionistas and Project Runway fans out there, it is also a month when the new fashion trends for the Fall/Winter 2013 season are put out on display during New York Fashion Week and London Fashion Week.

For the month of February in London and New York, big name designers from Valentino to Ralph Lauren, as well as the more avant-garde, showcase their designs to the world, while fashion magazines and blogs comment on what they see as the emerging or repeating trends of the upcoming season. From what I’ve read in the blogosphere, leather, animal print, and androgynous looks paired with more feminine elements are big trends for 2013.


While I can’t experience the glamour of New York or London Fashion Week in person, I can live fashion vicariously through the Internet, and so can you! Now available on the Calgary Public Library website in the E-Library, is the Vogue Archive which contains all issues of the magazine (US edition) from its beginnings in 1892 to the current month. Access to the Vogue Archive is available with your Calgary Public Library card and can be found in the Arts & Music section and Newspapers & Magazines section of the E-Library.

street fashion

This virtual archive includes every page, cover, and advertisement that has been published by Vogue, all of which are searchable by photographer/illustrator, fashion item, company/brand, and much, much more. The archive also allows readers to browse by issue as well as by subject area.

What I find most impressive with the Vogue Archive is the quality of the images. As I was browsing through the January 2013 issue on my computer, I was blown away by the high-resolution and bright colours of each image. The only drawback that some readers may come across is that the Flash Image Viewer format will not be compatible on certain devices such as an iPad. The Flash Image Viewer allows viewers to manipulate a page such as zooming in and rotating the picture. Fortunately, for iPad users the regular Full Text format with images is also available, although the reading experience is not as interactive as it would be with Flash.

Not only is it an enjoyable experience to have over 100 year’s worth of the Vogue collection at my fingertips, but the Vogue Archive is also a valuable resource for those studying fashion or who are interested in fashion history, the arts, design and fashion journalism.

Fresh! Children's Award Winners

by Betsy - 0 Comment(s)

One and Only Ivan coverOne and Only Ivan


A week ago in Seattle over 10,000 librarians, exhibitors and book lovers gathered together for the American Library Association’s Midwinter meeting in Seattle, WA. One of Midwinter’s highlights was the Youth Media Awards, naming some of the year’s best books, audiobooks and videos for children.

This year’s awards provide some wonderful books for children, not the least of which is the John Newbery Medal winner, Katherine Applegate’s The One and Only Ivan. Ivan is a silverback gorilla living in the Big Top Mall and Video Arcade. He is also an artist who is just as likely to eat his crayons as draw with them, and his charm will capture readers as surely as it does Ruby, the baby elephant in the cage beside him, and Julia, who delivers him crayons and finger paints. This is a book that is worth sharing, savoring, or reading aloud.



This is Not My Hat coverThis Is Not My Hat


The Randolph Caldecott medalist for the most distinguished picture book for children was awarded to Jon Klassen, author/illustrator of This Is Not My Hat, the charming and sly story of a minnow with a stolen chapeau, oblivious to his misdeeds. Mr. Klassen, who was born in Manitoba and grew up in Ontario, also wrote the text for one of this year’s Caldecott honor books, Extra Yarn, illustrated by Mac Barnett.


R. Hartman (on the left) at the ALA Midwinter conferenceR. Hartman (on the left) at the ALA Midwinter conferenceAnother Canadian author did very well at the awards; it was my great pleasure to congratulate Rachel Hartman in person just before she was awarded the Morris Award for the best YA book by a debut author for Seraphina. Seraphina was also voted to the lists of Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults and Notable Children’s books. Seraphina Dombegh is a talented musician living in a world where dragons can take human form, and the two have had a peace treaty for 40 years. Seraphina’s mother, also a musician, died in childbirth, and Seraphina has been keeping a dangerous secret ever since. When a prince is murdered, a dragon is immediately suspected of being the killer, and Seraphina’s unique position in the court makes her the ideal person to investigate and possibly prevent war.
Congratulations to all of the winners and honorees!

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