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Saddletowne Blog

Embracing the Graphic Novel

Embracing the Graphic Novel

by Alyssa Bradac - 0 Comment(s)

I didn't read many graphic novels as a kid. Occasionally I'd buy a Batman or X-Men "comic book" if the mood struck me and had enough money left over from my allowance. I always seemed to read these books in the middle of the story, and didn't have much of a clue as to what was happening, who was allied with whom, and most importantly, why I should care. Also, as a child, most of the graphic novels I found seemed to all be marketed for boys - I didn't see myself on the cover or even as secondary characters in the plot. I had no one to relate to.

Yet the graphic novel has evolved greatly in the last 20 years. No longer are they "comic books" (Garfield, Funky Winkerbean, Blondie), now they are graphic novels - literally, novels with graphics. The themes found in a contemporary version of Wonder Woman, for example, examine not only Wonder Woman's inherent (and somewhat over-developed) sense of justice, but she is no longer the school marm of the world, shaking her finger at those "pesky, trouble-making boys". Now she is the ultimate agent for change. Female novelist Gail Simone (who is almost single-handedly responsible for Wonder Woman's fierce conversion) said:

If you want to stop a meteor, call Superman. If you want to solve a mystery, call Batman. If you want to stop a war, call Wonder Woman.

This is but one example. The face of graphic novels is changing drastically, and not just for superheros. There are many wonderful graphic novels commenting on everything from culture and politics, to climate change and relationships. Want to read about the childhood of a female protagonist set amid the Islamic Revolution in Iran? Read Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. Want to learn about dual perspectives during China's Boxer Rebellion? Read Boxers Saints by Gene Luen Yang. Moreover, graphic novels help to foster visual literacy, support English language learners, motivate reluctant readers, and are an all around excellent teaching tool (Sean Connors, The ALAN Review, 2010). Did you know that most major universities now offer courses dedicated to the graphic novel artform? With wonderfully expressive artwork and common themes in humanity, let graphic novels become your new favourite read in 2014.

Who should read graphic novels?
- Anyone learning English as a second language
- Anyone who is intimidated by reading literature and novels
- Anyone who appreciates wonderful writing and beautiful artwork
- Anyone at all!

Great Graphic Novels for Adults and Teens, I recommend:

- Persepolis by Marjane SatrapiPersepolis by Marjane Satrapi (also watch the movie!)

- Boxers Saints by Gene Luen YangSaints by Gene Luen YangBoxers/Saints by Gene Luen Yang

- Blankets by Craig ThompsonBlankets by Craig Thompson

There are also some wonderful graphic novels for kids. I recommend:
- Percy Jackson and the Lightning ThiefRick Riordan's Percy Jackson Series (yes! Now in Graphic Novels!)
- Hilda and the Bird ParadeThe Hilda Series by James Pearson (Hilda and the Shadow Giant, Hilda and the Troll, Hilda and the Bird Parade)

- Olympians Series by George O'ConnorThe Gods Series by George O'Connor

April is National Poetry Month!

April is National Poetry Month!

by Alyssa Bradac - 0 Comment(s)

April is National Poetry Month.

Now, when you read the word "poetry", you may have very well thought, "Poetry?? I hate poetry! Bah Humbug!" And your inner-Scrooge is probably right; you probably had to spend hours of precious time in grade school or college (at the command of a sinister and miserly English teacher) analyzing and tearing poetry to shreds, looking up words you didn't understand (and probably didn't care about), while attempting to figure out a "meaning" that probably wasn't even the author's intent at all - for a reason entirely lost on you. If this is your experience with poetry, then I will sing in chorus with you: "BAH HUMBUG!"

However, there is another side to poetry - a purer side, a softer side, an open-form-take-from-it-what-you-will side. And for this side, I will stand-up all alone and declare poetry's virtues, benefits, and beauty.

I have been blogging recently about the benefits of reading fiction (outside of general enjoyment), and many studies and statistics on the benefits of reading regular fiction cross-over into that of poetry: a better understanding of language, heightens critical thinking skills and innovation, boosts reading comprehension and understanding, and encourages cultural and civic participation. And I haven't even touched upon stress reduction and health benefits!

However, there are even more benefits to reading poetry that don't include typical fiction:

  • Poetry encourages us to grapple with (and simplify) complexity - an excellent skill for problem solving and thinking outside of the box!
  • Reading poetry can help improve writing skills - from simple assignments to graduate level papers, improve your vocabulary and your expression
  • Poetry also develops empathy and a fundamental understanding of the surrounding world. Leading corporations and CEO's are actively looking for candidates who not only understand the basics of business, but who are attuned to the people and the environment around them.

Here are some further articles and studies about the beneifts of reading poetry:
Poetry in America: A Study
Benefits of Poetry from The Harvard Business Review
PBS Parents: Celebrating Poetry
Poets.Org: The best way to find poems and poetry online


ALSO: Check out our National Poetry Month display at the Saddletowne Library!

Looking for a new book?

Looking for a new book?

by Alyssa Bradac - 0 Comment(s)

We've all experienced it - the disappointing, empty void after finishing a really, really great book. How do we move on? How do we recover? Where will our next book fix come from? And most importantly, how will we find the time?

If you've ever found yourself asking these questions, worry no more! There is a new display at the Saddletowne Library featuring Quick & Easy reading recommendations from our diverse and helpful staff. Featuring everything from quirky graphic novels to short classics, check out our picks for you! Best of all, our recommendations truly do focus on the words "Quick" and "Easy", so you won't feel the need to over-commit (we all know how exhausting that can be!).

Remember that according to the CBC, only six minutes of reading a day can improve your stress levels and over-all health!

If you're looking to blaze your own book trail, here are some other recommendations:
Goodreads' choice picks of 2013
2013 International Book Awards
2013 National Book Awards

Brrr! It's Cold Outside!

by Lindsay B - 0 Comment(s)

Celebrate winter in Canada with free fun family activities at the Genesis Centre.

Saturday, Dec. 14
1:00 - 4:00 PM

No registration Required

Dinosaur Stomp!

by Lindsay B - 0 Comment(s)

There are still spots available for the Dinosaur Stomp Storytime for anyone who are interested in registering for it!

Join us for stories and rhymes about dinosaurs of all shapes and sizes.
Ages 2 to 5 with a parent/caregiver
Monday, Nov. 25
2:15 - 2:45 p.m.

Register In Person, By Phone, Or Online.

One Book One Calgary 2013 - African Artists' Showcase

by Lindsay B - 0 Comment(s)

Here is a program that may interest some of you!

One Book One Calgary 2013 - African Artists' Showcase

Enjoy the sights and sounds of Africa as performing artists share their creativity and passion for music, dance and more.
Saturday, Nov. 9
7 - 9 p.m.


No registration required

Program Guides

by Lindsay B - 0 Comment(s)

Hi everyone!

Program guides are now available online and at any Calgary Public Library branch. Pick up your copy today!

Lego Contest

by Lindsay B - 0 Comment(s)

Lego Contest

Create something fun or spectacular with LEGO at home. Bring it to the Library and you could win a prize!Ages 6 to 17

Saturday, Aug. 17
2 - 4 p.m.

Call 403.592.3576 for rules and age categories.
Contestants: set-up begins at 1:30 p.m.

World of Owls

by Lindsay B - 0 Comment(s)

Hi everyone! Here is a program that might interest you.

World of Owls
Discover the awesome world of owls, including species found in Alberta, their ecological importance and threats in the wild. For ages 7 and up.

Saturday August 10, 2013
2:00 - 3:00 p.m.

Register in person, by phone, or online.

Teen Movie Night

by Lindsay B - 0 Comment(s)

Hello all the teens out in the digital world! Here is a program that might interest you.

Teen Movie Night
Enjoy a feature length movie in the library. Ask library staff for movie title information. For ages 13 to 17.

Wednesday August 14, 2013
6:30 - 8:00 p.m.

Register in person, by phone, or online.

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