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One week left in our All Hallows' Read contest!

by Carrie - 0 Comment(s)

all hallows read poster

All Hallows' Read is coming soon!

There's one week left in our contest - the deadline is Oct. 22.

Author Neil Gaiman started a great tradition of giving away scary books for Halloween, and we want to spread the joy a little (or would that be spread the horror?). All you have to do is write a short review of a creepy book, and you could win a set of two scary YA books - one to keep, and one to give away.

Submit your review using this form, or email it to - and remember to include your contact info.

All Hallows Read Contest

by Christine A - 4 Comment(s)

Halloween may be my favourite holiday. Our parents told us never to take candy from strangers, but once a year you're encouraged to disguise yourself, venture into the darkness... and beg for it. Candy, costumes, parties and zombie walks make late October a wonderful time of year. Fantasy and horror author Neil Gaiman has created a new tradition to make it even more so.

It's called All Hallows Read. All you do is take a scary book you like and give it to your friend. That person does the same for you. Ta-da! That's all there is to it, unless you'd like to win free books for your friend and yourself!

Just submit a short review of your favourite scary book to us by October 22nd (be sure to include your contact info!). The winner will receive two copies of a scary book, one for you and one for a friend. Zombies vs Unicorns

Need some ideas? Here's a review of Zombies vs Unicorns! This book was born from an online debate about which creature makes a better story. Unicorn fans say unicorns represent both innocence and sensuality; they heal the sick and can kill things with their horn. Zombies, on the other hand, stink, drool and carry disease. Zombie fans say that zombies both represent the forces of nature and comment on our society, whereas unicorns are stupid.

Twelve popular authors each offer a short story featuring unicorns, zombies or both. When you find an author you love, you can always find more of his or her work in our catalogue. If you can appreciate titles like “Love Will Tear Us Apart” and “The Care & Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn” this book is for you.

Teen Mags: Grip

by Emily - 0 Comment(s)

Grip is the last teen magazine I'm going to be sharing with you. It's Alberta based, has been around since 2006 and features writing by teens for teens. Grip accepts submissions for art, poetry, fiction and nonfiction articles and book reviews. Unlike the other two magazines I told you about, Grip puts out a print version of their magazine, although you can also read their most recent issue online. If you're interested in submitting contact Lyndsie Bourgon at:

So I've given you a few tips on how to volunteer for magazines and submit work to them, but how about getting your work ready to send out? If you're sending work out to a magazine just doing one draft of your writing isn't enough. You want to make sure it's the best it can possibly be so you have a better chance of getting published. Here's some quick tips for making that first draft even better:

1. Leave the writing alone for a little bit. After you've finished your first draft, just leave it for a week or so, and then come back to it. Ask yourself what parts you still like about it, and see if you can find any parts of it that don't seem quite right and try to figure out why that might be and what you can do to fix it.

2. Read it out loud. This works really well when you're in the final stages of a piece, because it will help you find mistakes that you might have missed. It's good for the early stages of writing too. If a sentence sounds awkward when you read it out loud then that's a sure sign that it needs a bit more work.

3. Have a friend or family member read it. Getting another pair of eyes to look at it is always a good idea. They'll be able to let you know if something was confusing to them, or if they thought maybe you could describe a certain scene a bit better. Make sure you pick someone that you trust though. The best kind of person to read your work is someone who will be honest, but also kind with your work. You don't want someone to tell you all of it was terrible and then not explain why. Likewise, you don't want someone who will only shower your work with rainbows, because that's not really going to help you make it better is it?

You might also want to look into some of our writing guides. I've included the book covers for two of the writing books we have designed especially for teens. If either of them look like they might be of interest the book cover will take you straight to our catalogue.

Teen Mags: Germ Magazine

by Emily - 0 Comment(s)

Germ Magazine

woman writingNext in my list of cool magazines for you to check out is Germ. Germ is "a magazine for girls—high school and beyond—that celebrates beginnings, futures, and all the amazing and agonizing moments in-between. From facts to fiction, beauty to boys, movies to music, how to\'s to where to's, you start here." Author Jennifer Niven created Germ after writing her first YA novel All the Bright Places, which will come out early next year. One of the characters in her book, Violet, runs an online magazine called Germ, and that got Jennifer thinking, why not actually create that magazine? So she did.

In Germ you'll find honest, engaging articles that tackle the issues teen girls face. Jennifer likes to think of Germ as the "Katniss Everdeen of magazines." Germ accepts creative writing submissions from teens as well as articles on a wide array of topics. You can find out more about their requirements for written work on their submissions page. On the submissions page you'll also find a link to their Literary Submissions page, which will tell you all about their requirements for different kinds of writing.

Make sure you read through the submissions guidelines page of any magazine REALLY carefully. Submissions guidelines will tell you the word limit on the kind of writing you want to submit, how many pieces of work you can submit (for instance Germ allows you to send three stories in one submission) and also what kind of information you need to include along with your submission. If you fail to follow the guidelines that a magazine sets out, then your work will be rejected right away. All magazines receive a lot of work from writers, so if they get work from someone who hasn't followed the guidelines, then it makes their job easier. I don't think Germ mentions this on their submissions page, but make sure you pick a clean, simple font for your work. You might think that putting your story in comic sans makes it look more interesting, but what it really does is make your writing look less professional. Times New Roman might seem like a boring font, but remember it's your writing that should be attracting the editor's interest.

Check in next time when I feature yet another teen magazine and give you more handy tips on sending your work out!


by Tomas - 0 Comment(s)

Beyond the the lessons offered in the classroom, the complex social world of school is a rite of passage for many. Everyone's experience is different, and can range from affirming to harrowing. Luckily, there is bound to be a book or a movie that will speak to your experience. Whether you are just starting a new school, a seasoned veteran or just reminiscing, these materials may add further nuance, or comfort, to your experience.

Fatty LegsFatty Legs, a true story, is one of a growing number of books that shed light on the traumatic impact of the Residential School System in Canada. Set in the 1940s, in an Inuvialuit community in the Arctic Circle, Fatty Legs tells the story of Margaret, a young girl who desperately wishes to attend one of the church-run schools that had been established in a town. Her enthusiasm for learning is soon matched with a need to survive, as she struggles to maintain her identity within a system designed to destroy it.

Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time IndianThe Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is indeed based on author Sherman Alexie's childhood experiences. The story follows Junior, who after an explosive encounter with one of his teachers, leaves his school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend the nearby all-white farm town highschool. Equal parts humour and heartbreak mingle in this story, along with the two worlds that Junior occupies.

Chocolate WarA classic YA story, before such a category even existed, The Chocolate War definitely falls within the harrowing category. Through the simple act of refusing to take part in the annual chocolate sale, Jerry Renault unexpectedly throws the entire system of the Trinity Catholic Boys School into chaos, and pits him against both the local student mafia and instructors, who maintain and depend upon this system.

SmileDramaThese two graphic novels by Raina Telgemeier present two coming-of-age stories that are sure to resonate with anyone who has ever been in middle school. After a traumatic visit to the dentist, resulting in a horrifying combination of corrective surgery, headgear and retainers, eleven-year old Raina struggles to lead a 'normal' school existence. Drama follows the theatrics on and off the stage as our hero Carrie takes part in her school's production of Moon Over Mississippi.

Deathly HallowsHarry Potter and the Chamber of SecretsReally, what more needs to be said now about the Boy Who Lived... and also managed to graduate from the most famous school of Witchcraft and Wizardry?

Freaks and GeeksIn my humble opinion one of the best depictions of school life, Freaks and Geeks also launched the careers of several cast members (James Franco, anyone?) and its creator, Judd Apatow.

Napoleon DynamiteGentlemen BroncosWith Napoleon Dynamite and Gentlemen Broncos, Director Jared Hess offers two decidely quirky takes on the social order of school, of both the home and institutional variety.

In addition to these Fictional stories, the Calgary Public Library also has a great selection of non-fiction titles that can help you navigate the sometimes arcane and confusing rituals of the educational system.

Drama YearsSurvive Middle SchoolMajor in Highschool97 things to do before you finish highschoolHighschool hazingWhere should i sit at lunch?

Of course, this barely scratches the surface of what is out there, so let us know what titles you would recommend!

Teen Mags: The Young Wanderer

by Emily - 1 Comment(s)

Over the next little while I'll be blogging about magazines where teens can get their creative work published. If you're a writer, or an artist, these magazines can be a great place to start showcasing your work to others. When you're starting out, getting magazine publications shows that you're serious about being a writer. Unfortunately, most magazines publish work by writers who have a bit more experience and have been writing for a fairly long time. This is why teen magazines are an awesome place to send out your writing, because they only publish work from teens, and are often run by teens too.

For this post I want to introduce you to The Young Wanderer. The Young Wanderer is "a student-led online magazine based in Alberta with the aim of showcasing the thoughts and perspectives of high school students across Canada." They accept submissions for the six topics they cover on their site: Business, Culture, Politics, Sciences, Sports and Arts. They publish fiction, non-fiction essays, photography and visual art.Teen Writing

I know when I'm picking places to send my work I often have to be a bit more suspicious of online journals that I haven't heard of before, because you don't want to send your work out just anywhere. One of the things I do is read the work they've published, and look at the design of the page. The Young Wanderer has lots of great writing aleady up, and the website is really well designed, so it's definitely a trustworthy place to send your work. You should check it out for yourself so you can read some of the writing that's already been chosen. This will help you figure out if your work is ready to be sent to them.

Volunteering for a magazine is also a great experience for a young writer. I noticed on the The Young Wanderer's website that they say they are constantly expanding their editorial committee. This means they'd probably be happy to have some more volunteers, so you might want to ask them about that through their contact form on the website. Volunteering for a teen magazine would look really great on your writer's resume! If they are interested in having you volunteer for them make sure you take your job seriously, nothing frustrates editors more than volunteers who sign up to help out and then suddenly disappear.

Are you interested in sending your work out, but you don't have very much written yet? That's ok! Use the idea of submitting to magazines as an inspiration to get you writing and stay tuned for my other posts on magazines you might want to check out!

Teen Review: The Art of Racing in the Rain

by Courtney N - 1 Comment(s)

Art of Racing in the Rain

Book Review: The Art of Racing in the Rain
By Garth Stein
Book Review by Cindy Z

The Art of Racing in the Rain had intensely captivated me within the first five pages of the novel. Under the perspective of a dog with a complex mind, we experience his souls which dealt with distress, loss, and affection. Stein has unconditionally developed an immense suspense; within the book, the reader will develop fondness for the dog and without doubt, tear up with a surge of sympathy and compassion. His life is a race, a life packed with life lessons to become a champion to complete a race; it emphasizes on the ability to overcome the deadliest obstacles. We observe the resilient dog’s soul travelling through our world taking say in what humanity is incapable of. You wouldn’t stop reading until you’ve reached the very last page; overwhelmed with the new atmosphere Stein has created, allowing us to accept a new interpretation of the world.

Over the moon?

by Tomas - 1 Comment(s)

Maggot Moon

The 45th anniversary of the moon landing came and went recently, but you can be forgiven if you missed it. Here on Earth, there’s been no shortage of tragedy and conflict that overshadowed this anniversary. Of course, 45 years ago, the story wasn’t so different, and the moon landing was deeply wrapped up in it.

In the 1950s scientific research that was developed for military purposes was put towards the goal of space exploration, primarily by the two Super Powers that emerged following the Second World War. From the launch of Sputnik to President Kennedy’s promise to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade, the ‘space race’ was another field of competition in the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Maggot Moon, by Sally Gardner, is set in a fictional country much like this one, but with a twist. The world that 15 year-old Standish Treadwell lives in exists as a ‘what if’ scenario… a bleak totalitarian world that resembles what might have been had the outcome of the war gone a slightly different path.

Standish is caught up on the machinations of the totalitarian ‘Motherland’ whose ambitions to reach the moon are pursued at the expense of its citizens. In the book, the moon landing is similarly a symbolic accomplishment for the government, a demonstration of its technological and military prowess. As an escape Standish and his only friend Hector fantasize about launching their own rocket. Bypassing the moon altogether, they set their sights on “Juniper”, an imaginary planet which embodies their desire to transcend the terror of their world, in favour of a new one full of possibility and hope.

Maggot Moon

Teen List: The Top 10 Things to do in Calgary

by Courtney N - 0 Comment(s)

yyc summer

Avanti sent us her top ten things to do in and around Calgary this summer:

1. Sleep - No alarms, no schedules, just time to sleep!
2. Hike - Take weekend trips to Banff and Jasper to enjoy the great outdoors.
3. Boat - Rent a boat and spend a fun-filled day at the lake!
4. The Calgary Stampede - Enjoy the greatest outdoor show on Earth!
5. Festivals - Check out the scene with Globalfest, Expo Latino and Tastes of Calgary, to name a few.
6. Calaway Park - Roller coaster, anyone?
7. Calgary Zoo - “Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!”
8. Farmers Markets - The food looks AMAZING!
9. Drumheller - Badlands, hoodoos and dinosaurs: a great combination!
10. Spruce Meadows - Lots of cool tournaments to watch!

Teen Review: Animal Farm

by Courtney N - 0 Comment(s)

Book Review: Animal Farm
By George Orwell
Book Review by Cindy Z

Animal FarmAnimal Farm

A forceful desire to establish a utopian society, the animals on the farm are anticipating the day to dictate against mankind and establish their own form of government. As interesting as it sounds, Orwell establishes Animal Farm to simplify the idea of the Russian Revolution replacing the dictators with pigs on the farm. After centuries of undergoing humanity’s cruelty, the animals have decided to stop acquiescing to mankind and start deteriorating the homes of their enemies. Their idea of socialism soon is established dividing the animals to several classes while the pigs dictate the group. Their tyranny soon develops into a sense of dismissiveness towards others while they themselves maintain their own desires. Animal Farm portrays instinctive cruelty when authority is in place. Their abusive of language soon puts the others into susceptibility and is seen as inferior. Animal Farm significantly demonstrates its relations to the Russian Revolution by the classes the animals fall under. Those who dictate tend to manipulate the working class while they themselves maintain the advantages.

Animal Farm is an intense, captivating novel that glued me to its pages. Every flip created an accumulation of intensity, thrilling the reader’s mind into the perspective of the animals. The world Orwell created was very realistic, understanding the rules of language and those who tyrant society. Highly recommended, I guarantee you wouldn’t want to put it down once you’ve started!

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