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My world just turned... UPSIDEDOWN!

by Adrienne - 5 Comment(s)

What do we do when our world falls apart? Many of us turn to books and movies -- as a means of escape and coping -- but in addition to solace, books offer solutions and advice, empathy and new ways of thinking; and not just non-fiction. Much of the best new advice and ideas are fostered in fiction. Perhaps this is why dystopian novels are so popular. As a teen I read several books which definitely saved my butt. These include: "The Mists of Avalon" by Marion zimmer Bradley (this was a life changing book for me), "Girl Interrupted" by Susan Kaysen, Victor Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning", "Sophie's World: a Novel on the History of Philosophy" by Josten Gardner, Huxley's "Brave New World" and others. I found it interesting to see that many of these titles are on our lists for Adult Books for Teens... Looking back I was probably going through a "midlife" existential crisis - at the tender age of sixteen! This, I realize, is not all that uncommon. As teens, our lives are tough. We are dealing many things, many crises, big and small (the zit on my nose! ahh! my parents' divorce ahhh!). And we are relatively new at coping, rarely having had to practice these skills because our parents or caregivers shield us from most of the struggles of childhood. Sometimes we are not new, as Sherman Alexie points out in an article on a recent visit to a Seattle alternative high school. "When I think of the poverty-stricken, sexually and physically abused, self-loathing Native American teenager that I was, I can only wish, immodestly, that I’d been given the opportunity to read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Or Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak. Or Chris Lynch’s Inexcusable....And now I write books for teenagers because I vividly remember what it felt like to be a teen facing everyday and epic dangers. I don’t write to protect them. It’s far too late for that. I write to give them weapons—in the form of words and ideas—that will help them fight their monsters. I write in blood because I remember what it felt like to bleed."

Regardless, in addtion to being entertaining, books offer glimpses into other peoples' lives, hopes, dreams, problems, solutions and resolutions. Books, or rather stories, can make us resilient. I'm going to be bold and go so far as offering up books as lifesavers. Claiming their rightful place in the creation of a sane society. So I thought this would be a nice tie-in to Canadian author Steven Galloway's book "The Cellist of Sarajevo", for CPL's 'One Book One Calgary' intitiave (read it, it's good!). It explores the resiliency and power of the human spirit so I created a display called "My world just turned... UPSIDEDOWN!" which showcases some of these books. I've included some bizarre and strange Graphic Novels as I think stretching our imaginations is one of the best ways of envisioning new possibilites. They also provide delicious escape -- which it is essential to do many times in order to maintain one's mental health. So whatever you are dealing with (as I'm sure there's something, whether you are a teen or not..) here are some literary life jackets:

RAPE

SUICIDE/ ANXIETY/ DEPRESSION/ CUTTING

and FYI Cynthia Voigt is one of my new fave authors - check out some of her fantasy books too!

+ check out this ladies blog!! http://simpleeserene.com/

EATING DISORDERS

PREGNANCY

SEX

GIRL POWER / CENSORSHIP

GLBTQ

STREET KIDS/ SCHOOL SUSPENSION / FIGTHTING

DRUGS

... and one short tear jerker on the resiliency of the human heart...

Use Your Pencil Hugo- Bleak, Bizarre, Beautiful cont..

by Adrienne - 0 Comment(s)

Sometimes opening something has such a velvety quality, the unknownness of it so black, the mystery so tangible you can almost feel it; like rubbing paper between your fingers. Opening The Invention of Hugo Cabret: a novel in words and pictures is like that. And the adventure unfolds from there. The biggest discovery being how Brian Selznick has almost single handedly reinvented the form of the novel and what a book can be. The story is told in pictures and then in words, back and forth, never repeating scenes. Words and pictures move the story along sequentially; they are not meant to expand on one another nor elaborate. Yet enhance each other they do. Different in this way from a graphic novel, the pictures take up the whole page adding unimaginable layers of depth. Each speaks 1000 words or more, describing both setting and scene with lush pencil strokes, sturdy in execution yet exquisite in detail. It just makes me want to run my fingers over the page, flip them back and forth, back and forth... The quality of the paper is rich as well, reminding me of the the lushness of Vida Simone's art and the memory I have of a personal performance with miniature puppets she performed for me in my apartment (among others) as part of her show at The New Gallery years ago. Telling stories in her own personal way. Hugo Cabret does the same thing.

So flip through the pages I did! And discovered, much to my delight, that the individual sequences of images throughout the book act like mini flip books, animating individual scenes, imitating the earliest animations and stop motion film sequences of silent movies. This adds a physically tangible metaphor to the history of cinema that the book probes to a certain depth; satisfying in metaphor of not breadth. To this add steampunkish elements tying clockwork magicians to the mysteries of the human heart and human bonds. It's no wonder it won the Caldecott Medal in 2008.

Et tu parle Francais? Since the book does take place in Paris.. get the the French version here. The book has so many layers. Its very form is half of it! This leaves me wondering if a film on the book can truly do it justice. Yet the story is so strong in and of itself, and.. it does deal with the invention of cinema, so a film MUST have something to add to the discussion of itself... "Hugo" In theatres TODAY (November 23rd) you can watch the trailer here. One thing I don't doubt= I am excited to see it!

I'm even more excited to read and experience Selznick's next adventure in the re-invention of the novel = Wonderstruck. Here he talks about how he wanted to tell 2 stories. One about Rose, set in the past, told in pictures and one about Ben, set in the present, told in words. At some point the stories meet in the middle and either a puzzle is solved and/or a new mystery evolves. See the website here.

Let the mysteries begin. Perhaps all is not lost to e-books and cyberspace. Selznick has given us something in these books akin to the realization that the specialness of a handwritten letter or home made card can never equal an email or Facebook Message. So go ahead - use you pencil!

Coverage

by Jilliane - 0 Comment(s)

I was reading this article from Leaky News the other day, which decries the most recent covers of the "Alanna" series by Tamora Pierce. Basically, the argument is this: Alanna is a kick-@$$, rough-and-tumble, heroine of EPIC proportions, but you would never be able to tell that by the new covers, because they make her look like a boy-crazy girly-girl. This argument is not new. People have been disgusted by this from the moment they first saw the covers, when they opened the box this past summer.


But what you have to understand here, is that I have read this series at LEAST a dozen times, almost every year since I was a kid. I grew up with Alanna. I watched her go from this:

--> to this --> then this --> and this

and finally, heart-breakingly, to this:

You will note, of course, the lack of her beautiful and faithful horse, Moonlight, who is present in ALL of the previous covers, in favour of two simpering, broody boys who are both pining after Alanna. Don't get me wrong, Jonathan and George DO both love her... but that drama only happens for like 20 pages. Honestly. She has a much more interesting relationship with her horse.

And look, I get it. These books get a new print run every couple of years because they really ARE that good, and they really DON'T age as time goes on. I love them just as much now as I did 15 years ago. And the esthetic trends of books are changing faster than most people can keep up with. I mean... When I had to replace my first copies of the books (I had worn them completely out) I was STOKED to upgrade from the third image on that list to the fourth. The last set of releases (before these horrifying new ones) were really, really good.

Especially in YA Lit, where publishers are always looking for the latest and greatest trend, and have to distinguish their books from the myriad of other books just like it, covers are especially important. And despite the age-old adage to "Never judge a book by it's cover", taking one look at a book is enough to tell me whether or not I'm going to pick it up off a shelf. I mean, it's not the ONLY reason I'll read a book, but if I'm just browsing, not looking for something specific, I am DEFINITELY drawn towards the cooler covers.

So here's what I want to know:

Do you have a beloved favourite that you feel was butchered by a new print-run with terrible covers?

What books have you avoided based purely on their appearance?

What books have covers that are totally appealing to you, that you'll pick up regardless of what it's about?

Have you ever taken a book out, or bought one, just because of the cover, and then never read it? Or pretended to just because it looked cool?

What's your favourite book that lived up to it's cover?

What books are awesome and deserve way better covers than the ones they got?

I know that's a lot, but I really want to know! Leave your comments above!

And if you want to see what I'm talking about with this book covers trends thing, check out these lists based on genre:

http://old.calgarypubliclibrary.com/teenzone/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=115

You'll be shocked to see how similar the covers of books in certain genres are! (My faves are the fantasy covers!)

What do we do when the world falls apart?

by Jilliane - 4 Comment(s)

Although I can't explain it, teen publishing trends clearly demonstrate that we are obsessed with our own destruction.

The truth is, I'm getting a little tired of dystopic reads, but there isn't a lot I can do about it because publishers just keep churning them out. And, truth be told, there are a lot of great dystopic reads out there. Let me tell you about just a few of my favourites:

Bacigalupi paints a bleak future for earth--a world where fossil fuels have all been used and the oceans have risen to drown coastal cities. It is here that we meet Nailer, a ship breaker. He and many others are foreced to scavenge beached oil tankers for things like copper wire and fuel. When Nailer finds a beached clipper he is forced to decide if he will strip the ship of its wealth and become a rich man, or try and save the ships only survivor--a rich girl, daughter of a shipping-company's owner.

Book CoverGeneticists have developed a vaccine for all physical ailments and administered it to a whole generation. What they didn't know, was that their vaccine was a time-bomb. The children of this generation are now susceptible to a virus that claims the lives of men at 25 and women at 20. There are few remaining first-generation individuals who are now aging, and working hard to develop an antidote. Meanwhile, perpetuating the species is of the utmost importance. The need for new births has spawned an ugly breeding program where young women are kidnapped and forced into polygamist marriages. Rhine, a 16-year old, has been taken from her Manhattan home and thrust into the hands of a wealthy young man as his fourth wife. Her determination to escape never wavers, despite the privilge and comfort of her husband's mansion.

book coverCassia Reyes lives in a perfect society. What's more, she is perfect--a model student, daughter and citizen who has everything she needs: food, shelter, education, training and even a future husband that has been carefully chosen just for her. Cassia even knows when she will die--after all, every citizen in this perfectly controlled, perfectly monitored world dies at 80--the perfect age to die.

At Cassia's Match Banquet she is paired with Xander, her best friend and definitely her soul mate, and everything seems fine. But when a computer error shows Cassia Ky's face instead of Xander's, Cassia starts to have questions. Her mind begins to work differently and and suddenly Cassia's society doesn't seem so perfect anymore.

Matched has been compared to Margared Atwood's Handmaid's Tale, Lois Lowry's The Giver as well as George Orwell's 1984. Definitely worth the read.

Book Cover

It is time for Tally Youngblood to party. Her sixteenth birthday is coming up and soon she will be transormed into a great beauty. Scott Westerfeld paints a world where people are perfectly proportioned, perfecly groomed and perfectly lovely. Modern science has developed a surgery that has elimited all forms of ugliness--but at what expense?

Right before her surgery, Tally meets Shay, a wild, willful girl who decides she doesn't want the surgery. To Tally, this is unheard of--or is it?

Tally discovers a group of runaways who have all chosen not to have the surgery and live at a refugee camp -- the Smoke. It is there that Tally and the other refugess start to learn more about the perfection surgery and the price you pay for beauty.

Book Cover

Years ago a grand experiment led to the development of Incarceron -- a gigantic prison made of metal and designed with cutting edge technology. Incarceron was created to lock away all undersirables, resulting in a perfect utopia.

The experiement failed and Incarceron became self-aware, sentient and tyrannical, and generations of inmates have been struggling to survive. Technolgy has now been outlawed and society has reverted to a feudal state.

Claudia, daughter of Incarceron's warden has an arranged marriage to an impending heir. When the marriage is moved forward, Claudia vows to do whatever it takes to avoid it --i ncluding helping a prisoner of Incarceron to escape.

Book CoverIn order to end war, society has been divided into five factions: Abnegation (selflessness), Dauntless (fearlessness), Candor (truth), Erudite (intellect), Amity (friendship). At sixteen, you are allowed to decide which faction you will spend the rest of your life in.

Beatrice Prior was raised as an Abnegation, but is certain she does not want to remain there. She takes her aptitude test to discover which faction she is best suited to and surprisingly, is given several options. Beatrice is Divergent -- a fact that she cannot reveal to anyone. She chooses to join the Dauntless faction and undergoes an exhausting initiation ritual which will determine if she can remain with the faction or must go factionless.

Beatrice slowly discovers what it means to be Divergent and learns more about how her society has maintained peace.

This is such a popular topic, Tyler posted on it just last year, so if you want to hear abour more dystopic reads check out his post.

Now, one final thought. Because thoughts of our impending destruction (or not) have been on my mind, I've started collecting dystopic songs to make a little 'The world is going to be destroyed and we're all gonna die' playlist. There are tons of great tunes on this topic--clearly people have been thinking about the end of the world for a long time. This is what I've collected so far:

  • You and the Candles Hawksley Workman
  • Tables and Chairs Andrew Bird
  • It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine) REM
  • The Beginning After the End Stars
  • The Eve of Destruction Barry McGuire
  • Animals andThe Wall Pink Floyd
  • They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back From the Dead!! Ahhhh! Sufjan Stevens
  • 2+2=5 Radiohead
  • Citizens of Tomorrow Tokyo Police Club
  • Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground) by Mike + The Mechanics

What am I missing? Tell me all your best end of the world songs so I can beef up my list!

Synergy

by Jilliane - 0 Comment(s)

We are super stoked to welcome the artwork of Sir John Franklin School into our youth space on the 2nd floor of the Central Library. For a long time we had bare, boring walls---but not any more! Every corner of our youth space is now brightly and brilliantly decorated with artwork from young Calgarians. The cool thing is, this is just the beginning--we have forged a partnership with Sir John Franklin, an art centered school, and our walls have become their gallery for the year. So...more art to come!

The current show, Synergy, is running from November 3rd -- February 11th. That leaves lots of time for you to stroll on by and check out this awesome artwork. And I'm telling you, you won't want to miss this show. There are some seriously great pieces from very cool young artists. I had the privilege of meeting these artists and their families at the opening and their energy and enthusiasm was contagious. They love art. And so do we. You should too.

Here's the show description -- hope to see you soon!

Synergy – the multidisciplinary art created by the students of SJF

Synergy as defined on dictionary.com states:

synergy syn·er·gy (sin'?r-je)
n.
The interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects.

Sir John Franklin School has a focus on learning through the arts and this show is a small showcase of how teachers and students infuse the visual arts into the core curriculums of math, science, and humanities--and there is a pinch of creating art for arts sake.

Through the various works in this showcase, students have successfully illustrated their further understandings of self and community, the geometric patterns of flips and rotations, as well as the structures and inner workings of cells. It is also important to note that each individual piece has a sense of the artists’ own personality, from the flamboyant to the more reserved.

We hope that you take the time to wander through the various pieces and get to know our students through their works as well as what our school is all about.

Here's a sneak peak at the art & artists:

PD DAY EXTRAVAGANZA

by Alexandra - 0 Comment(s)

Have Monday off?

Pick a branch and come on down for some of the excellent programs and events we have for PD Day!

If it's a movie you feel like, we have fun, feature-length films being shown at Central, Crowfoot, and Fish Creek:

At Central we're showing in the John Dutton Theatre. I can't tell you what movie... it's a secret (unless you call 403-260-2657 right now...) but there ARE going to prizes and activities. 1:30-3:30 on the 2nd floor.

Crowfoot has their's from 2:00-4:00, and it's a secret too...

And Fish Creek's is at 2:00-3:30. I'm not going to tell you the title of that one either -- just call and ask!

Country Hills is showing great flicks for the younger kids from 3:15-4:45, which will have a variety of shorter movies and activities.

If you're looking for something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT, Crowfoot Libs is hosting the Bow Valley Calligraphy Guild (who will be there from 1:00-2:00) teaching kids of all ages how to create Decorative Letters or "Versals". Embrace your inner Medieval Scribe by whipping up one of these bad boys. If your teammates are still sore from that acid pit you dropped them into, give one to them-- Nothing says I'm sorry like an enchanted scroll (except maybe some aloe >__>' )

They'll also be putting on "Gaming for All Ages", where you can play all the classic wii games. Come from 11:00-12:30 for tournies, short competitions, and round robins!

Last but not least, Glenmore Square has a delightful play put on by the Calgary Young People's Theatre Troupe, called "The Man in the Moon" -- if you've missed it at the other branches, check it out from 3:30 - 4:15!


And if you just want to come on down, grab a great book, and cool out for the afternoon, we're always happy to see you. Happy P.D. Day!

POETRY SLAM! OBOC & The Calgary Spoken Word Society Team Up Sat 2-3:30

by Adrienne - 0 Comment(s)

This Saturday get ready for a special Second Saturday Slam. This month One Book One Calgary teams up with the Calgary Spoken Word Festival 's crew to deliver a slam with a twist. Come enjoy, compete and/or listen and judge. Bring some of your poems that explore some of the rich themes in Canadian author Steven Galloway's novel "The Cellist of Sarajevo". This could be something related to music or art, the enduring power of the human spirit, diversity, or war and peace. Contestants will be chosen on a first come first serve basis. AND CSWF always offers really valuable and encouraging feedback. I've learned a lot as a poet in the ones I've attended (yes I DID dare to read some of my poems in public - therefore... I dare you!). Thanks to Sheri - D Wilson, Andre Prefotaine, Jen Kunlire and others!!!

And by the way if you haven't checked out the poetry of these guys and gals - they are fantastic!

The OBOC website also has some great books on it as well as book lists. My favourite being the ones that relate to the Human Spirit and Art and Music. Additional suggestions for great verse novels would be Orchards by Holly Thompson and Roses and Bones which includes Psyche in a Dress by Francesca Lia Block.

And as a side note - For the whole month of November we have a cool painted piano that you can see inside of downstairs on the main floor of the library! Come play a tune on your way up or down to the John Dutton Theatre.

Whose side are you on anyways?

by Jilliane - 0 Comment(s)

Cellist of Sarajevo Book Cover Book CoverBook Cover Book Cover

November is a good month to reflect on the impact of wars, past and present. Remembrance Day was established at the end of WW1, which was briefly referred to as “The war to end all wars.” We wish that had been the case! Since then conflicts have continued with tragic regularity. Many authors have addressed the theme of war and its casualties in their works.

Recently Steven Galloway, author of The Cellist of Sarajevo, spoke about the different perspectives taken by people as they struggle to survive the sudden conflict they are thrown into, and react to the decisions and sides they must take. In his presentation during the One Book One Calgary launch, Galloway reminded us that the casualities of war are mostly civilians, rather than those whose profession is war, like soldiers, generals, leaders and doctors.

As part of OBOC’s programming, a discussion on Nov 21 looks at an emerging disturbing trend in modern warfare – the use of Child Soldiers. This is heartbreakingly represented in Romeo Dalliare’s book They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children.

The differences between opposing sides is often hard to distinguish. This is simply and poetically shown in another story called The Enemy by Davide Cali. Sitting in a trench, a soldier faces off against an unseen enemy who, as the story progresses, he realizes is not very different from himself.

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo, offers a unique perspective on war, that of a cavalry horse who witnesses the horrors of trench warfare on both sides of the conflict. Morpurgo’s thrilling story continues to have a powerful resonance, including translations into stage and screen adaptations.

Check out this link for more books with characters who try to make sense of the complexities of war.