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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.

http://www.maggotmoon.com/

Maggot Moon

You gotta be in it to win it...

by Tomas - 4 Comment(s)

Have you registered for Youth Read yet? Not that you need any motivation, but I thought I'd just put these images here...

books skullcandy tetris clock

john green

(signed!)

wacom tablet marauder's map

so yeah, that link again? http://calgarypubliclibrary.com/teens/youth-read-2014

poetic in just ice

by Tomas - 0 Comment(s)

ee cummings poem

I vividly remember my introduction to the poetry of e.e. cummings, via a film called "The Boy Who Liked Deer”, shown to our class in Junior High. I can’t remember the reason we were shown it, but the trauma it inflicted is still fresh in my mind. I’m not going to spoil the story (you can watch it here, but seriously, this recommendation comes with some heavy trigger warnings) but I will say the poem is by overshadowed by the heavy-handed emotional tragedies that two characters experience.

It took finding a reference to his work in The Perks of Being a Wallflower to make me finally work through my aversion and give e.e. cummings another try. Thankfully, e.e. fares better in this book. While Charlie’s English Teacher provides a lot of off-curriculum book recommendations, he discovers e.e. outside of the classroom via Mary-Elizabeth, who gives him collection of the author's poetry. It does take some convincing, however, for Charlie to finally commit to reading it.

I also came across yet another, if slightly oblique, reference. In Matched, the main character Cassia is secretly introduced to the work of Dylan Thomas, but in an interview author Ally Condie speculates that Cassia would also most likely have been a fan of e.e. cummings, among others, had she lived in this time.

So what is it about e.e. cummings?

Experimenting with line and word spacing, and writing in lowercase before it was cool, cummings was one of the literary pioneers in the early 20th Century who broke conventions of English language; how it could be used, and what it could mean. You can find more about him through our resources in the e-library. We also have a healthy collection of his poems in various collections.

In the end, I decided to revisit “In Just”, a poem in celebration of spring. Admittedly, it’s not my favourite poem by the author, but definitely not deserving of the, ah, ‘critique’ it receives from the boy who liked deer.

Perks of Being a Wallflower Matched ee cummings ee cummings ee cummings

ee cummings

The Skills to Pay the Bills

by Tomas - 0 Comment(s)

youth hiring fair

Looking for a summer job?

The City of Calgary Youth Employment Centre is hosting its 16th Annual Youth Hiring Fair on Tuesday, April 8th. Over 5,000 youth between the ages of 15-24 are expected to attend this event, representing a variety of skill and educational levels, and there will be more than 80 employers who are looking to hire YOU! The Centre has a great website, www.nextsteps.org, including videos with advice on what to expect, how to dress, and how to prepare for the fair.

If you can't make it to the hiring fair, don't worry! The library has lots of great resources to help you with your career:

  • Friday April 11th, join us for Summer Jobs: Opportunities and Options. The Youth Employment Centre will lead a discussion on summer job strategies, with special guests from Calaway Park, The City of Calgary Recreation Department and Canada Safeway.
  • On Saturday April 26, the Calgary Public Library hosts: Accelerate Your Career: Career Conversations, an event specifically for youth aged 13 and up, where you can meet one-on-one with a wide range of professionals.
  • Beyond this one-day event, the library offers group programs and one-on-one assistance in building resumes and cover letters, and Interview skills. take a look at all the offerings available here.
  • You can also find a lot of great resources through our E-library, including resume building, job searching and more.
  • If you're considering college or university, the Crowfoot Library is hosting a Post-Secondary Prep night on May 8th, where you can connect with representatives from Mount Royal University, SAIT, ACAD, Bow Valley College, and the U of C. It's rare to get them all in the same room so this is a great opportunity to check out your options!
  • Volunteering is another way to and to explore a variety of professional fields and to build skills and experience. Propellus (formerly Volunteer Calgary) has a number of great opportunities to explore. If you are in Grade 7 or higher, there are a lot of opportunities available at the Calgary Public Library. Check out Monique's post for some good links and tips.

Good luck!

Freedom to Read Pt 2

by Tomas - 0 Comment(s)

Maintaining freedom of expression requires a constant effort. It’s important to recognize our freedoms, and at the same time to be aware of the challenges they face. Just have a look at the lengthy list of books challenged in Canada for a reminder of just how fragile this freedom is, and the importance of continual vigilance to preserve it.

The Freedom to Read Week contest (deadline for submissions: Thursday, February 20) is a great opportunity to act on this right, and to consider what is at stake.

Not surprisingly, the dangerous friction between freedom and censorship has been explored by many authors. Here is a small selection of quotes that will hopefully inspire you in your own reflections.

Stephen Chbosky When you publish a book, you do so in part to end the silence. All censorship is silence. I would never, as an author, feel right requiring a young person whose family would object to the book to read it. Just as I would never force that person to read it, I would ask those folks to not force others not to read it. To me, that is just good manners.

-Stephen Chbosky
 
Sam Shepard I do not believe in censorship, but I believe we already have censorship in what is called marketing theory, namely the only information we get in mainstream media is for profit.

-Sam Shepard
 
Julian Assange

Stopping leaks is a new form of censorship.

-
Julian Assange

 
Jeff Buckley

I resent the fact that a parental warning sticker has to be included on an album as cover art. To me that's censorship.

-Jeff Buckley

 
Robert Cormier

You seldom get a censorship attempt from a 14-year-old boy. It's the adults who get upset.

-Robert Cormier

 
Lois Lowry The man that I named the Giver passed along to the boy knowledge, history, memories, color, pain, laughter, love, and truth. Every time you place a book in the hands of a child, you do the same thing. It is very risky. But each time a child opens a book, he pushes open the gate that separates him from Elsewhere. It gives him choices. It gives him freedom. Those are magnificent, wonderfully unsafe things.

[from her Newberry Award acceptance speech]

Submitting to censorship is to enter the seductive world of 'The Giver': the world where there are no bad words and no bad deeds. But it is also the world where choice has been taken away and reality distorted. And that is the most dangerous world of all.

-Lois Lowry

 

Neil Gaiman

 

A nice, easy place for freedom of speech to be eroded is comics, because comics are a natural target whenever an election comes up.

-
Neil Gaiman

 

Carl Sagan

 

Frederick Douglas taught that literacy is the path from slavery to freedom. There are many kinds of slavery and many kinds of freedom, but reading is still the path.

- Carl Sagan
 

Katherine Paterson

 

Reading can be a road to freedom or a key to a secret garden, which, if tended, will transform all of life.


-
Katherine Paterson

 

 

Ellen Hopkins

 

 

Torch every book.

Burn every page.

Char every word to ash.

Ideas are incombustible.

And therein lies your real fear.

-Ellen Hopkins

 

Lemony Snicket

 

The burning of a book is a sad, sad sight, for even though a book is nothing but ink and paper, it feels as if the ideas contained in the book are disappearing as the pages turn to ashes and the cover and binding--which is the term for the stitching and glue that holds the pages together--blacken and curl as the flames do their wicked work. When someone is burning a book, they are showing utter contempt for all of the thinking that produced its ideas, all of the labor that went into its words and sentences, and all of the trouble that befell the author . . .

-Lemony Snicket, The Penultimate Peril

 

Judy Blume

 

 

Let children read whatever they want and then talk about it with them. If parents and kids can talk together, we won't have as much censorship because we won't have as much fear.

-Judy Blume

 

Salman Rushdie

 

 

An attack upon our ability to tell stories is not just censorship - it is a crime against our nature as human beings.

-Salman Rushdie

 

Nelson Mandela


 

A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.

- Nelson Mandela

 

Don't Blink — Read!

by Tomas - 4 Comment(s)

neil gaimanIf you’re a Whovian, I don’t have to explain the significance of November 23rd. To those not yet initiated, this date marks the premiere of the 50th Anniversary special episode: The Day of the Doctor. If you're new to the phenomenon of Doctor Who, long-time fan Neil Gaiman recently shared a succinct synopsis of the show so you can dive right in:

“No, look, there’s a blue box. It’s bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. It can go anywhere in time and space and sometimes even where it’s meant to go. And when it turns up, there’s a bloke in it called The Doctor and there will be stuff wrong and he will do his best to sort it out and he will probably succeed ’cause he’s awesome. Now sit down, shut up, and watch ‘Blink’.”

In another post, Gaiman expands on his thoughts on the literary quality of the series:

“Doctor Who has never pretended to be hard science-fiction. At best, Doctor Who is a fairytale, with fairytale logic, about this wonderful man in this big blue box, who at the beginning of every story lands somewhere there’s a problem.”

The appeal to Doctor Who naturally extends to lovers of fiction (writers and readers). From a wardrobe that is bigger on the inside, to the wibbly wobbly act of Tessering, many books offer similar mind, space and time-bending experiences.

Over the years, a number of celebrated authors have contributed stories—in both television and book form—including Douglas Adams, Jenny Colgan and Neil Gaiman.

nenshiFans of the series also include our recently re-elected mayor Nahed Nenshi. In our centennial publication, His Worship wrote how he devoured every copy of the Doctor Who novels he could get his hands on.

“One of the things I really loved were science fiction novels and in particular I was a fan, and have been for a long time, of the British science fiction show Dr. Who,” ...

“There must be hundreds of Dr. Who paperbacks and I would always be awaiting them. I would always know which ones the Forest Lawn library had and which ones I had read.

“Whatever was there I would grab so I would read them wildly out of sequence which was ok because they were self-contained stories.”

In anticipation of the 50th Anniversary episode, Penguin Books commissioned 11 writers to come up with short stories. These were published monthly as e-books, one for each for one generation of the Doctor. So far these are only available as ebooks for sale, but hopefully will be added to our collection soon. In the meantime, you can check out the links below for samples of each writer’s story, courtesy of The Guardian, as well as interviews where they speak about their inspiration and enthusiasm for their particular Doctor:

 

Eoin Colfer - A Big Hand For The Doctordoctor who

Michael Scott - The Nameless City

Marcus Sedgwick - The Spear of Destiny

Philip Reeve - The Roots of Evil

Patrick Ness - Tip of the Tongue

Richelle Mead - Something Borrowed

Malorie Blackman - Ripple Effect

Charlie Higson - The Beast of Babylon

Derek Landy - The Mystery of the Haunted Cottage

Neil Gaiman - Nothing O'Clock

 


If the thrilling prospects of time and space exploration leave you wanting more, check out these other great reads.

A Monster Calls mister monday hitch-hikers guide hourglass wrinkle in time garden of iden

Points of Departure, pt 2

by Tomas - 0 Comment(s)

How do you find somewhere that is figuratively in the middle of nowhere? Even worse, what if the place in question is also literally nowhere, except in the pages of the book?

MontanaAs Easy As Falling Off the Face of the Earth, by Charlotte Perkins is a comically disastrous travelogue. The journey kicks off in the town of New Pêche, where 16 year old Ry - on his way to summer camp- arrives after mistakenly getting off the train in the middle of the Montana wilderness, setting off an escalating series of travel misadventures.

I scoured the map, but couldn’t see any town in Montana by that name. Perkins' observation that Pêche is French for Peach is a red herring, as further sleuthing revealed that it’s also French for fishing. And there IS a town called Whitefish in Montana….

Henry River Mill VillageSearching for places gets a bit trickier in speculative fiction. Place names, and sometimes even the geography, can change, but these locations can still be teased out.

District 12 of The Hunger Games is located somewhere in the Appalachian region of what is currently the United States. In the film versions, a full-scale version of the district was created in Henry River Mill Creek, North Carolina. Like Harry Potter, this has resulted in an adjunct tourism industry, complete with tours and camps (I don’t know that this would be my idea of a relaxing vacation). If you’re really keen you can even buy it!

Ship breaking

The New Orleans described in Ship Breaker is, to date, a far cry from the city as it exists now. The hulking shells of freighters that fill the shoreline can be found in other locales, however. A landscape that author Paolo Bacigalupi may have envisioned currently exists in Chittagong, Bangladesh and was documented in a stunning series by photographer Edward Burtynsky.

MoonThe precise terrestrial location of Zone Seven in the tyrannical 'Mother Land' is left vague in Sally Gardner's Maggot Moon. The lunar landscape, on the other hand, is described in vivid detail as the regime celebrates the imminent moon landing. The fate of this landing and those of Standish and his friend Hector become increasingly intertwined in this tense and heartbreaking book.

As easy as falling off the face of the earthCatching FireShip BreakerMaggot Moon

The Fresh Prince of B612

by Tomas - 0 Comment(s)

The Little PrinceThe new little prince

Recently I found out about a new version of The Little Prince, the classic story by Antoine De Saint-Exupéry.The Little Prince: The New Adventures is a graphic novel series which, it is prominently stressed in the promotions, is approved by the Estate of Saint-Exupéry and is in the spirit of the original. A new cartoon has also been produced, currently playing at Calaway Park in their new Cinemagic 3D feature. Both have been developed with the noble goal of bringing this classic character into the 21st Century.

I have to admit, I don't know how I feel about this. No, actually, I DO know that how I feel -strongly- is that this is all kinds of wrong. I've already had part of my childhood ruined by the Star Wars prequels (help me J.J. Abrams, you're my only hope!), and Michael Bay's take on Transformers, so admittedly I'm a little sensitive on the topic... I thought if there was one unassailable territory of my childhood it would be guarded by The Little Prince.

In the new adventures, the Prince and his plucky sidekick, Fox (really?) go from planet to planet, stopping the base villian Snake and his gang of Gloomies (REALLY!?!?) as they hatch all sorts of dastardly plots. I take issue mainly with the complexity of the characters being reduced to simplistic attributes of either 'good' or 'evil'. Snake being cast as a villian fundamentally changes one of the most complicated and pivotal scenes of the original book, and I'm distressed that anyone who reads it after the new adventures will miss out on debating the motivations and the outcomes of the snake's actions.

But maybe I'm just not thinking about this in the right light... After all, it is introducing the character to a new audience, one that then may come across the original. As Moe has written in another blog, classic stories are regularly revisited and brought up to date for new audiences, sometimes quite well. Putting aside the original source material for a moment, the stories of the new series are actually not that bad, although a bit repetitive, and the artwork is delightful.

So what do you think? Should I just calm down and be more open to this attempt at taking this story into an exciting new direction, or do you think this is a poorly considered capitalization on the original story? Let me know about other revisions of classic stories that have or haven't worked for you.

The Little Princenew little prince 2

Points of Departure

by Tomas - 0 Comment(s)

Although stories often veer off into wildly imaginative terrains, they often set off from real life spaces. Whether peculiar, mundane or unexpected, these places are nonetheless imbued with potential and serve as important gateways into the constructed literary worlds. These places are created in collaboration between the imaginations of the writer and reader, but comparing this vision with the reality can also offer added insight. With this in mind, I thought I would try to track down some of these points of departure.

Cassiar ConnectorVancouver’s Cassiar Connector, which serves as the entrance way to the realm of the Half World, was pretty easy to locate, thanks to some rather specific instructions the antagonist, Mr. Glueskin, gives our heroine.

…”Where was I? Ahhh, yes. If you ever want to see your mummy again, and so on and so forth, leave the house immediately and proceed to the Cassiar Connector. Enter the tunnel that is farthest west. I really don’t know where you’ll end up if you go through the wrong Gate. So PAY ATTENTION!” he roared.

“West side,” Melanie sobbed.

“Good girl,” the vile voice soothed. “You’ll find there are numerous doors lining the inside wall. Go through Door Number Four! Get it? Door Four! Your prize-winning entry into Half-World!”

graveyard East Grinstead

Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book is inspired by an experience of a cemetery near his childhood home. As he recounts in the foreword to the book:

“The idea had been so simple, to tell the story of a boy raised in a graveyard, inspired by one image: my infant son, Michael – who was two, and is now twenty-five, the age I was then, and is now taller than I am – on his tricycle, pedaling through the graveyard across the road in the sunshine, past the grave I once thought had belonged to a witch.”


Kings Cross Station

London's Kings Cross Station became one of the most famous rail terminals in the world after Harry Potter used it as the starting point of his journey to Hogwarts. It is now a tourist destination for countless Potter fans who continue to flock there in search of platform 9 ¾. In honour of the literary homage, a luggage cart was installed halfway through the wall. However, as intrepid fans have noted, the platform isn’t quite in the same place as mentioned in the books. Rowling admits her memory was a bit foggy on this detail, and had based it on another nearby station.

Forest Park

The Impassable Wilderness, otherwise known as Forest Park in Portland Oregon, is the world that Prue has to enter in order to rescue her baby brother, along with many other quests and adventures in Wildwood.

As long as Prue could remember, every map she had ever seen of Portland and the surrounding countryside had been blotted with a large, green patch in the centre, stretching like a growth of moss from the northwest corner to the southwest, and labeled with the mysterious initials "I.W."

Even in real life, the forest lives up to its literary moniker, leaving so much to the imagination.

Half WorldGraveyard BookHarry Potter and the Deathly HallowsWildwood

Explore other dimensions of your favorite Sci-Fi characters

by Tomas - 1 Comment(s)

Dr. Who reading

Fiction has always been a vital part of the Sci-Fi equation, and literature regularly figures into the plots of classic and contemporary TV series. Think of Mark Twain's visits to the Star Trek Universe, Data's obsession with Sherlock Holmes, or The Doctor's interest in pulp fiction (no spoilers here, check out the Angels Take Manhattan finale in the 7th season... coming to the library soon!).

Nathan Fillion - Kids Need to ReadSome of the crossovers aren't as conventional, and extend into the lives of the actors themselves. Looking at the line up for the upcoming 2013 Comic Expo, I came across an interesting tidbit about Nathan "Mal" Fillion. In addition to his work on Firefly, and later shows like Castle and Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, this former Edmontonian is co-founder of Kids Need to Read, a non-profit organization which aspires to provide underfunded libraries with more books!

Another Expo guest, comic legend Stan Lee, recently formed the Stan Lee Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting literacy, cultural awareness and artistic diversity throughout the arts (as if his 50+ years of output through Marvel Comics didn't already provide enough encouragement...)

Across the pond, the BBC has launched a series of storytelling segments by some of the U.K.'s biggest celebrities, including -naturally - cast members from Dr. Who, such as John Barrowman (also a guest of the Expo). Come on, who hasn't wanted a bedtime story told by The Master, or Captain Jack (???)

Geordi and DataAnd then, there's Levar Burton: As a long time fan of his run on Reading Rainbow, as well as his turn as Chief Engineer Geordi Laforge on Star Trek: TNG, nothing could prepare my 15 year-old self for the mind bending moment when the two shows / universes paradoxically combined in one glorious episode!

Mind bending in an entirely different way is Leonard Nimoy's, ah, unique rendition of Tolkien's The Hobbit. Much more concise than Peter Jackson's take, but just as exhilarating an experience!

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