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Bleak, Bizarre and Beautiful... New Fairytale Comics!

by Adrienne - 0 Comment(s)

I am happy to report that we have some great new fantasy graphic novels in! The Last Dragon by Jane Yolen being notable among them. Yolen weaves a story around just enough stereotypes to turn them around and come out with a satisfactory egalitarian ending -- a great read. Yolen is one of the most prolific writers of our time, boasting 300+ books to her name (with CPL carrying 40+ of her YA and Adult titles). A great storyteller with a penchant for fantasy and extremely relatable characters, she ranges from writing children's books, to poetry (adult poetry among them), to novels. She has also partnered with many great artists throughout her career, such as Come to the Fairies' Ball illustrated by Gary Lippincott. Sacred Places illustrated by David Shannon is also a notable highlight among her illustrious ilk. In The Last Dragon artist Rebecca Guay fits right in there by creating a visual feast for the eyes with hints of Art Nouveau and the Pre-Raphealites. I like pretty comic books, it's true. Guay has also illustrated Black Pearls A Faerie Strand, a YA novel by Louise Hawes.

Pay the Piper is a modern rock n' roll twist on the Pied Piper -- Modern, urban fantasy at it's best. Another great Pied Piper re-telling that just hit the stacks is The Brixen Witch by Stacey DeKeyser

At the back of the graphic novel The Last Unicorn there is a spread of art by 5 different artists depicting the characters from the story. I'm assuming the artists auditioned to illustrate the final comic. The art was amazing, as were the artists they picked, and it made me wonder how the novel would have been different if illustrated by each artist. A picture is worth a thousand words and this concept - of seeing other artistic possibilities for the same book intrigued me. Then, along comes Spera by Josh Tierney! One graphic novel, one story, illustrated by five different artists, each depicting their own chapter! The most surprising thing about this really is how smoothly the story actually flows from artist to artist, yet each lends a particular flavour, slanting and enhancing the scenes at hand. And for those of you who just can get enough, there's a Volume 2 on order!

Although not new to our collection the following items are more than worth your while.

Castle Waiting is a great comic book that takes elements from fairytales such as 'Sleeping Beauty' and combines them with a good dose of humour and plots about bearded ladies, two-headed girls, pregnancy and hidden libraries... Arthur Rackham makes an appearance as a stork and there are lots of other humorous post-modern references sprinkled throughout. Linda Medley, the author, has been described as Arthur-Rackham-meets-Charles-DeLint-meets-Marvel-comics! I highly recommend her. And there's Castle Waiting II too. Funnily enough the intro is written by... Jane Yolen! Of Medley she says: "Once upon a time, which is how all good fairy tales begin (if you grew up in western culture), a child was born in the rural Salinas area of California. Or Califunny as those of us who live 3000 miles away like to call it. Which, if one were writing a fairytale would be prophetic. If one were drawing a comic, it would come with a banner: Here is born Linda Medley. Then an arrow to a group of trees, Rackham trees. A child sits with her back against the heavy bark, in her lap a drawing pad. There is a newspaper, folded to the comics page by her side, a copy of Grimm Tales... So I feel as if Linda Medley is an old friend who has written Castle Waiting just for me - a feminist fairy tale with attitude, heart, imagination, laughter, love and truth. Er, Truth." I heartily agree!

The Goblin Companion by Brian Froud has long been a standing favourite of mine. Although Froud is famous for his fairies I particularly enjoyed seeing how he would draw a goblin wife, what kind of tools each fool possesses, and in general the rough juiciness of his pencil drawings particularly suits a more ornery subject... such as goblins. Check it out!

Poke a little fun!

by Alexandra - 2 Comment(s)

If you weren't around (or paying attention) when the R-rated Go the eff to Sleep came out last year, you're missing out on a hilarious tradition of revamped classics made for Kids[at-heart]. I mean, this story is NOT for children -- but most people who used to be children (or who currently have their own) seem to find it spot-on.

It riffs on classic tropes in Children's Lit and Bedtime Stories -- soothing images of baby animals and their parents, gently poetic rhymes, and lots of repetition -- to help frustrated parents access a part of childcare that traditionally just isn't spoken about. People say it closely resembles Eric Metaxas' It's time to sleep, My Love, and if you check it out, you can see why.

This one particular example is extremely well-known, from the Samuel L. Jackson audio recording, to the parodies OF the parody (MAD magazine did one a couple of months ago), to the toned-down, family-rated version of the story that the Author wrote because there was such demand for it; Seriously, Just Go to Sleep.

If this is the sort of thing you're into, you'll want to check out these titles too:

Gear up for Grad

by Alexandra - 0 Comment(s)

Okay, so let's forget for a moment that it's actually called GRAD, and those crazy Americans have it all ack-basswards, and let's also skimp over the part where there don't seem to be any grad books for boys... and just cut straight to the part where graduation season is in full swing and you guys must be going out of your minds! It's an exciting yet stressful time for some, and an over-rated and hellish time for others, but either way you can't deny this is your penultimate High School experience (or maybe your ultimate, depending how you feel about convocation...) Whichever camp you sit in, whether you're grad-crazy or grad-makes-you-crazy, we've got some great reads for the graduating class of 2012:

Red Riding Hood Revisited

by Adrienne - 2 Comment(s)

So I admit to being just slightly obsessed with Little Red Riding Hood (okay, okay maybe actually completely obsessed...). What piqued my interest? A lot of that has to do with the research I did into the history of the folktales and a fascination with how a story can shift and change over time to reflect changes in the cultures it resides within.

As a result I was really excited to discover that there was a film version of Red Riding Hood, produced last year by Catherine Hardwicke (director of Twilight). When I finally watched it, I admit I was disappointed, mostly with the casting; not of the main characters who are for the most part good, but it's amazing how bad supporting actors can make a film seem fake & ruin a mood!

The film, however, is a visual feast with splendid, gorgeous, stunning images of long red cloaks against white, white snow, beautiful tree lit night scenes and chic neo-medieval costumes that are meticulously researched with details to satisfy the hippy-geeks in all of us. This in turn spurned some research into medieval costuming. Stay tuned for a follow-up blog with some cool books about medieval dress...

Fortunately the more I watched the film (obsessed remember), the more I appreciated the subtle metaphors and historical references it embeds. For instance, was Peter, Peter The Wolf? Also, it's obvious in the final stew scene at grandmother's cottage that Catherine Hardwicke put some research into how the tale was originally a metaphor for the passing on of wisdom from one generation to another (grandmother to granddaughter Eucharist style). I appreciated this, along with the soundtrack, which is fantastic. Check out Bloodstream and Keep The Streets Empty for Me by Fever Ray!

In fact does a fairy tale have to seem real? Or does a certain amount of fakeness actually seek to better distill the story and symbolism in your subconscious in a more subtle way than if everything was completely realistic? The fakeness allows it to exist in the realm of metaphor, fantastic space, the dreamworld where things aren't usually completely logical.

After being obsessed with the film I read the book by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright. She wrote this after the movie was created, spending time on the set researching the characters and getting to know them. They book delves deeper into the inner lives of the characters and has additional scenes. This was really fun - I kept expecting the book ending to be different and was somewhat disappointed in the end. You have to go online to read the last chapter. If you don't, the book ending leaves more tantalizing trails left for the imagination to follow...

So what other Red Riding Hood remakes have made the mark? Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater is tantalizingly well written featuring an innovative re-imagining of the whole werewolf adventure. Available in book, e-book and book CD formats at CPL! Stiefvater is also a musician and artist and has created her own songs to go along with each book, as well as stop animation teasers (scroll down) using wallpaper cutouts! The book is followed up with Linger and Forever. On a side note, Stiefvater likes to decorate things such as her printer and guitar with intricate designs in sharpie markers. You can see some of this on her website as well as in the preview for Forever (scroll down). Click Here and scroll down for a neat pop up animation for Linger.

I think it is important to point out that most of the heroines in the RRH revisions in this blog (except in the comedy section) have teenage or young women as protagonist. This changes the moral tone of the stories and makes them (slightly) less creepy! For instance, Little Red Riding Hood illustrated by artist Daniel Egneus is definitely not the watered down version served up for most 5 year old. And the woman in the illustrations is definitely not 5 or 8 or even 11. Scoring high on beauty in line quality and penmanship, they also evoke a sense of horror in their disjointedness - hinting at how truly horrific such a story would be, were it actually real.

Adaptations that are truer to legend with juicy twists are: Scarlet Moon by Debbie Viguie (Ruth follows in her grandmother's footsteps learning her wise lore) & Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce is another werewolf adventure involving 2 sisters. Red Hood's Revenge by Jim C. Hines is one of four books that reinvent RRH, Cinderella, Snowhite and the Little Mermaid into one cohesive world where our famous heroines form sisterhoods rescue children from Rumplestiltskin, marry, attempt assassinations on each other, reconcile, etc. Fun, fun, fun! Cloaked by Alex Flinn has references to RRH as well as fairytales such as The Shoemaker and the Elves, The Frog Prince and others. In Birthmarked, a great dystopian novel Caragh M. O'Brien, servant girls wear red cloaks however, the resemblance stops there. Similarly from the cover, what with the red cloak and wolf!!, you'd think The Light Bearer's Daughter by O.R. Melling was a RRH re-vamp, but no! Scores are in order however, for a great cover...

Woods Wolf Girl by Cornelia Hoogland takes the story of Little Red Riding Hood and turns it inside out in this sensuous Canadian retelling. Published by http://wolsakandwynn.ca/about

All this fuss about a girl and a cloak and a wolf? Well yes, rich in myth and symbolism, fairytales are a metaphoric minefields, hands down. "Our lives are stories, and the stories we have to give to each other are the most important. No one has a story too small and all are of equal stature. We each tell them in different ways, through different mediums—and if we care about each other, we'll take the time to listen." - Charles de Lint

"As our storytellers continue to draw upon past knowledge, including looking to the animal world and to tribal storytellers for guidance, we grow in strength. We reshape our ancestors' stories for our children, so that these tales will, like our people, our spirits, endure." - Carolyn Dunn

I find the psychological effects of fairy-tales intriguing. If you are interested in the psychology of fairy-tales Clarissa Pinkola Estes has written Women Who Run with the Wolves, which examines folk and fairy-tales from a Jungian perspective. Reading it might just put a new spin on Margaret Atwood's Bluebeard's Egg, or a whole lot of your childhood as well! Far from being outdated, fairy tales continue to shape our lives. Currently the re-shaping of these stories is booming. As Terri Windling says, "Why are so many of us en-spelled by myths and folk stories in this modern age? Why do we continue to tell the same old tales, over and over again? I think it's because these stories are not just fantasy. They're about real life. We've all encountered wicked wolves, found fairy godmothers, and faced trial by fire. We've all set off into unknown woods at one point in life or another. We've all had to learn to tell friend from foe and to be kind to crones by the side of the road. . . ."

On a more humorous note: Artist Wiliam Wegman did a Little RRH book in 1993 which involved photographing dogs posing as all the characters, and in true English hound style... plaid for the book end pages! Cloaked in Red by Vivian Vande Velde are 8 short story RRH re-makes that may never have you looking at fairy-tales quite the same way again! Gail Carson Levine recently wrote Betsy Red Hoodie illustrated by Scott Nash, and there are hilarious graphic versions of little red riding hood in these two YA Graphic Novels. Definitely not for little ones : some very Grimm fairy-tale comics and Fracture Fables by Jim Valentino. When a RRH girl finally karate chops the wolf in self defense rather than being gobbled up by him, we know we are living in a society that is beginning to place more of a priority on empowering our little girls rather than seeing them pay blind obedience instead. And that, in my mind, is a good thing!

If you are interested in researching the history of folk and fairy tale these are some good websites: Endicott Studios, JOMA (Journal of Mythis Arts) , Cabinets des Fees - a journal of fairy tales, Terri Windling. In our E-Library (once you sign-in) there are articles like "The Trails and Tribulations of Little Red Riding Hood" by Jack Zipes. Look under Book Authors and E-Books, Literature Resource Center or Literature Criticism Online and enter in a heading like "Little Red Riding Hood". You will get links to a variety of great articles! Do some research using our spiffy new catalogue and do a re-vamp as you see suggested in the challenge issued here!

"Our lives are our mythic journeys, and our happy endings are still to be won." TW

May is Zombie Awareness Month

by Alexandra - 4 Comment(s)

It's something of an inside joke here at Services for Children, Teens and Families that my TOP 5 list of GREATEST FEARS is pretty ridiculous. I mean... I don't think it's any more ridiculous than the next person's (fear in itself is quite irrational, is it not?) but everyone else seems to think I'm off my rocker.

ALEX'S TOP 5 GREATEST FEARS OF ALL TIME:

1) Fast Zombies

2) Rabbits

3) Slow Zombies

4) Lactose Intolerance (for me... I'm afraid of becoming LI, I'm not afraid of people that already are...)

5) Carrot Top (this guy)

I'm going to skip the things people say about me when I tell them about my lagomorphobia (that's the bunny bit, and no, it has NOTHING to do with Monty Python and the Holy Grail), because that's a whole other story, and today we are going to discuss my fear of Zombies.

People seem to think that Zombies are a silly thing for me to be afraid of. Because hey, why be afraid of something that's not real, right? WRONG. I think it is actually HUGELY intelligent for me to be afraid of both real and not-yet-real things (notice that phrasing, it will be important later). Because then I'm truly prepared for every eventuality. Like what if you thought your biggest fear in the whole world was black-widow spiders, but then massive, eight-legged, blood-sucking, bone-bashing, super-intelligent aliens came to Earth, and you were like "Freak on a Peak, I just pooped myself becauseI just saw something I didn't even KNOW I was afraid of!" and your body shut down and you just died from fear on the spot. WHO'S LAUGHING NOW?!?! I am. Because I have covered all of my bases and evaluated the things that are to be feared RIGHT NOW (like bloatiness from drinking too much milk) and DOWN THE ROAD (like undead ex-friends and family who are trying to suck my brain out through my nostrils). And fear will not surprise me.

If you want to be prepared for a possible Zombie Apocalypse, here are some things you need to check out:

This Scientific Article about Toxoplasmosa Gondii and a podcast about it too.

The story of Clairvius Narcisse, who's [Voodoo] Doctor turned him into a Zombie

The Symptoms of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (sounds like zombies to me!)

or the cracked.com article (which is much less PG-13, but way funnier than these others), Top 5 Ways a Zombie Apocalypse COULD Happen.

Then you'll want to look into the Calgary Zombie Survival Guide.

Still not convinced? Well... maybe some of these books will get you there:

And just in case that's not enough... there's always Zombie Carrot Top with Milky Eyes...

The Star Wars Comeback Special

by Jocelyn - 1 Comment(s)

The blog author embraces her inner Leia.

Ok, I admit it. I am of the generation that grew up with the original Star Wars (that would mean episodes IV through VI for the rest of you.) I grew up pretending I was Princess Leia, and I even had a Princess Leia shampoo bottle (disturbingly, the head is the bottle cap that twists off.) I embraced the Ewok movie too. Later on, I read Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces because I heard that was the book that inspired George Lucas. In San Francisco, I stared at the ships beyond the wharf, as I had heard that was the place that gave inspiration to many of the ships in Star Wars

So when I heard that they were making a new trilogy about Anakin Skywalker, I couldn’t contain my excitement. Sadly, like many of us who grew up with the originals, I was deeply disappointed in episodes I to III. It was like George Lucas had taken the greatest villain in cinematic history (Darth Vader) and reduced him to a whiney sniveling shadow of a young Jedi (what is up with that!?!?)

The good news is, despite all that, Star Wars is still wildy popular, especially in hyperspace, and it’s not because of George Lucas endlessly re-editing the films (I don’t even want to talk about what he did to Return of the Jedi). Lego certainly has something to do with it – Lego Star Wars books, the game on Wii, etc. have breathed some new life into old loveable characters, such as Chewie. One can only imagine what would happen if Lego teamed up to create some kind of Hunger Games model sets… but I digress.) The other factor is the fans themselves and the endless video spin-offs you can find on YouTube or the books you can find in the library – for example, I just read Darth Paper Strikes Back: an Origami Yoda book by Tom Angleberger. This is the sequel The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, and I quite enjoyed it.

For those who just want to peruse the art the fans have created on the internet, here is a few to check out:

1)Star Wars Uncut. This is a Star Wars fan tribute video, coordinated by Casey Pugh, where thousands of fans got together and did a scene by scene remake of Episode 4. They filmed with Lego, with their old Star Wars toys, with themselves, with their own home-made videos. And from what I have seen, it is awesome: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ezeYJUz-84

2)Jedi Cats Strike Back. Two college students filmed this vignette with their newly rescued kittens. It is absolutely adorable, and pretty much the only non-violent light saber battle that I could find on the internet: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Z3r9X8OahA

3)Chad Vader. This is a series made by Blame Society Productions about a guy related to Darth who happens to work at a grocery store called Empire Market. Or at least he did. Here is Chad trying out some other work. It doesn’t go so well. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmDf6SnTVxg

4)Pink Five. This series features Stacey, a rather chatty X-wing pilot that was created by some true Star Wars fans. Here, she has accidentally followed Luke Skywalker to the planet Degobah: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kf8bbaX6D1s

5)John Williams is the Man. This is a rather hilarious acapella Star Wars tribute (although it's actually done to the tune of the Indiana Jones theme...but that is just a mere technicality, right?): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lk5_OSsawz4

And don’t forget to check out Wookiepedia – the Star Wars wiki – where you can get lost for hours reading everything you wanted to know about Star Wars at http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page

Youth Video Contest!

by Jilliane - 0 Comment(s)

We all know homophobic bullying in schools is wrong. And we all know it happens.

Shine BookcoverThere have been some amazing books written on the topic. One of my faves is Lauren Myracles Shine which tells the story of 16-year-old Cat and her best friend, Patrick, who happens to be gay. When Patrick is beaten and left for dead, Cat decides to unravel the mystery behind this terrible hate crime. They live in a small Southern Caroline town and Cat has to navigate her way through the tightly knit community to find the perpetrator. Although the Sheriff assumes the criminals are from out-of-town (because no one from our town would do this!), Cat visits all her friends, including the "redneck possee" Patrick used to hang around with, to discover the truth. She uncovers some dangerous secrets (people dealing and using meth) and a great deal of shame that many people feel because of how they treated Patrick. Cat reflects on all of this, and of course, discovers a lot about herself in the process--which is all very insightful. A sombre and compelling story with a hopeful ending--I defintely think you will love Shine.

We have a whole list of interesting books on the topic homosexuality. You'll find it here (but you have to scroll down just a bit!).

At the moment, an AMAZING contest is being held to raise awareness for homophobic bullying in schools and to help stamp it out. The prizes are sweet, the challenge is fun and it's open to all Canadian youth.

Here's what you gotta do:

Create a short video and submit it by June 11th that challenges homophobia and bullying. For more info, visit Out In Schools.

But really, this video says it all:

Bitterblue

by Jilliane - 0 Comment(s)

Bookcover BitterblueKristin Cashore is the New York Times bestselling author of Graceling and Fire. Graceling and Fire were both named ALA Best Books for Youth Adults in addition to other awards. Basically, Cahsore rocks. And...her third book is coming out in May!!! I am lucky enough to have read Bitterblue already, so now I'm going to evangelize all about it so you'll all place a hold on it before it comes out.

To start with, Graceling and Fire are companion novels to Bitterblue. You don't have to read them to follow the story, but knowledge of them will enhance your enjoyment of the story (and anyway, they are awesome). Bitterblue takes place after Graceling.

King Leck ruled Monsea for years. His grace (the ability to control people's minds) and his violent psychopathic personality, destroyed his kingdom. Eventually he was overthrown and murdered and his daughter Bitterblue was left to help the kingdom recover. Because Bitterblue became queen as young child she was very dependent on her advisors. She is now 18 and for the first time, decides she needs to try to understand her kingdom more completely. In the hopes of learning more about the land she rules, Bitterblue begins to sneak out at night in disguise. She visits local story rooms and listens to people tell tales of the crazy King Leck and she discovers that her people are still wounded and seeking the truth about their past. Bitterblue is determined to help them heal, but first, needs to unravel the mystery of her own past. She uncovers distrubing secrets about her insane father Leck. Even more disturbing, she learns that Leck still has a hold on some people in her kingdom--a secret that she must bring to light and deal with if her kingdom is to heal and she is to become a strong queen.

Bitterblue truly is a gripping story. Although it is long and starts slow, the richness of the detail, the depth of the characters and the intricate plot will pay off. It's the kind of book you will stay up late into the night to finish once you get going. More than anything, I love the rock-star-tough-feminist heroines Cashore places in her books. So...read, and enjoy.

bookcover bookcover

Too young to VOTE? Cast your ballots HERE! Young Reader's Choice Award

by Adrienne - 0 Comment(s)

Too young to VOTE? Cast your ballots HERE! The Pacific Northwest Library Association is looking for young voters. If you are between grades 4-12, live in the Pacific Northwest (in Canada this is BC and Alberta) and have read at least 2 of the book on the YRCA 2012 nominees list you can vote for your favourite book! Voting takes place in between March 15th - April 15th. We have a ballot box here at SCTF on the 2nd Floor at Central where you can drop your ballots off - and we'll mail them in for you! Or print them off here (scroll to the bottom right hand of the page for the Word document containing the ballots) and mail them in yourself. There is also a study guide for teachers (bottom left hand of the page). Impress them; encourage your whole class to vote!

Here are the Senior 2012 Nominees. They make great Spring Break reading material.

If you've read at least 2 of the books in each category you can also vote for the Junior and Intermediate categories.

My personal favourite for Juniors is The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly- A witty and apt portrayal of the combined sophistication, seediness, prejudice and refinement of the Old South; as seen through the eyes of an 11yr old girl who wants to be a scientist... at the turn of the previous century!

Winners will be announced in mid-April - check back to the PNLA website for details.

Happy Voting! Smile

Sustainable Poetry: Write & Perform Poems for Prizes!

by Adrienne - 6 Comment(s)

It's sPRinG!

gEt Outside!

JumP ArOUnd!

Hide in buSHes! (sCare your sister - not TOO mUch ;0)

Ride Down the hill FAST!

Lie dOWn, stare at the sKy, wAtch the birds fly by...

sIt bY a tRee

and WRite a pOEm for this month's Youth SLAM!

In honour of April = International Poetry Month!

Saturday April 14th 2pm in the John Dutton Theatre 2nd Floor + 15 level of the W.R. Central Castell Library. Presented in collaboration with this years Calgary International Spoken Word Festival and the Library's ECOPALOOZA! Poems are to be on the theme of nature (in some broad way). Write a poem on nature/ sustainability - your interpretation - and then perform it in a SLAM competition, competing for $$ prizes! Be inspired by these environmental poets and Kate MacKenzie's WorldViews Project!!

The Winner will also compete in next year's National Slam Competition! Sheri-D Wilson Calgary's original "Mama of Dada" and the CiSWF organizer will be on hand to host the Slam and offer inspirational feedback, advice and tips!

There are 3 prizes:

1st = $70 gift certificate to Shelf Life Books,

2nd = $50 gift certificate to Pages on Kensignton,

3rd = $30 gift certificate to Pages on Kensignton.

Special thank you to Shelf Life, Pages, CiSWF and Ecopalooza!

The SLAM will follow a performance from Voices of Nature Choir (1-2pm).

Families are welcome! It’ll be awesome!

+ We will have a face painter and other activities going on the 2nd floor before and after the slam. Be sure to check out our Verse Novels display and SPEAK Art Show in the teen space! There is also a great Verse Books list on our website

Stumped on where to start? Check out The Spoken Word Cookbook by Sheri-D Wilson, Kris Demeanor's CD's (Calgary's 2012 Poet Laureate) and the following nature / environmental poem books. And at the end of it when you're done, you could also submit it to YouthInkit!, a Calgary magazine published by and for youth. Happy trails!

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