Today I read…The Untold Tale

The Untold TaleToday I read The Untold Tale, the first book in the upcoming Accidental Turn trilogy by J.M. Frey.

Forsyth Turn knew exactly who he wasn’t. He wasn’t the hero. He wasn’t big or brave or strong. He wasn’t bluff and hearty and called friend by men from every land under the sun. He wasn’t handsome and smooth and accounted a skilled lover by women from sea to sea. He wasn’t the man the bards sang of. He wasn’t his brother Kintyre Turn.

Lucy Piper knew exactly who she was. She was a normal woman with a normal life. And just like many other people, she was a fan of the wildly popular The Tales of Kintyre Turn series by author Elgar Reed. In fact, she wrote her thesis on the books. But they were just books.

Two very different people from two very different worlds. And they are about to discover that they are both very, very wrong.

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First, I’m really sorry J.M. that this review is so late, but I’ve been working in a library (yay!) and have less time to write (boo!).

J.M. sent me an ebook ARC to review some time ago, and I did read it, but I haven’t been able to write my review until now. But now the paperback and the ebook are both available for all you lovely readers to go out and buy, so yay! The Toronto launch party was December 10th at the Amsterdam Bicycle Club, with hosting duties by author Adrienne Kress and entertainment provided by Chantal Barette.

Adrienne Kress (at mic) and J.M. Frey (sitting)

Adrienne Kress (at mic) and J.M. Frey (sitting)

Whenever I finish reading a new J.M. Frey book, I send her an initial thought before I sit down to write my full review. (Okay, that’s a lie, first I cry a little and wonder why I keep letting her play with my heart like bubble wrap, but after that I message her.) For Triptych I told her “I hate you a little for killing my favourite character. But thank you for not bringing him back.” For The Untold Tale I told her that it was “A horribly uncomfortable story that everyone needs to read. And yes, that’s a compliment.”

Forsyth is…familiar. He is the voice in your head, telling you that no matter what you do it will never be good enough. That you aren’t pretty enough, smart enough, charming enough, working hard enough, resourceful enough, considerate enough, talented enough. That those whom you care for regard you with pity, not love. That you are tolerated, not respected. That the Other–your sibling, parent, friend, peer–is so much greater than you are, and that all who know you both compare you and find you lacking. That whatever you try, you will fail. Forsyth is depression and fear and insecurity. And then he meets the mysterious Pip, who he loves without feeling worthy of her, and she says such strange, wrong things. That Forsyth is handsome, that he is clever, that he is responsible and loved by his people. That his brother Kintyre is not better than him. Things he would love to believe, but just can’t.

And Pip, who has loved the books for so long, and who is starting to realize that sometimes fantasy worlds are better as fantasies. That they can be incredibly problematic for people who don’t fit the dominant narrative–that people of colour, or who are queer, or who don’t fit nicely into little gender role boxes, or who are anyone other than the brawny hero and those in his direct orbit, don’t really get their stories told. That maybe the brawny hero is pretty darn tired of sleeping with random maidens and getting soaked in blood, and sometimes just wants to curl up with a good book and a cup of tea. That the love interest has a story, and the sidekick, and the villain, and the innkeeper, and the maidservant. That the story that the Author tells about the characters is not necessarily the story that the characters wish to tell about themselves.

There are other things I could talk about–the romance that does more than merely nod towards the concept of consent certainly comes to mind, and the way that Pip and Forsyth navigate their way through both rape and rape culture and how it affects them both, and not in a superficial way. They suffer, and they think, and they (eventually) talk to each other.

And as a fangirl, the thought of a fictional character attending a convention and seeing what fans think of their world is…both delicious and cringeworthy. There is a scene where Forsyth, dressed as Forsyth Turn from the Elgar Reed books, meets a female cosplayer in a genderbent Kintyre Turn costume who proceeds to hit on him, not caring that a) Kintyre and Forsyth are brothers and Forsyth is clearly not into incest,  and b) Forsyth says no. Cosplay is not consent people… Well, read it.

Frey has a knack for writing books that are incredibly hard to describe properly. It’s a fantasy, but a very real and aware one, which examines the tropes and both celebrates and criticizes them, and thus proves it’s love. You can’t really love something if you only love the good parts–you have to look and know the bad, and acknowledge it, and love it anyway without washing the bad away. I recently read A Game of Thrones for the first time (yes, I’m behind, my to-read list is in the triple digits at this point). I posted on social media when I finished that I thought it was compelling yet highly problematic for the female characters. I raced through reading it–it was one of those books that you just can’t put down. But in my opinion there wasn’t a single well-rounded female character.  Frey comes from an academic background, and she’s a fangirl through and through. She’s used to analyzing her beloved fandoms and figuring out why she loves them, but also where the problems are.

The Untold Tale is the first in a new trilogy. The story feels complete as it is, and at first you wonder how there can be more. But then you start thinking about what happens after ‘and they lived happily ever after.’  That too is another untold tale. The second book will be The Forgotten Tale, and the last will be The Silenced Tale, and I’m sure that both of them will make me think about the title and what it really means just as much as The Untold Tale has.

Oh, and J.M.? You’re going to break my heart again, right? Please?

Chantal Barrette

Chantal Barrette performing at the Untold Launch

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When Bevel has imbibed enough liquid courage—I don’t know what his gauge is, but he seems to have met it—he stands and sways over to Pip’s side.

“Sorry he hurt you,” Bevel slurs gently. He’s not quite too drunk to be clear, but his lips are  tumbling over the consonants.

Dismissively, Pip answers, “Kintyre should be apologizing, not you. You’re not his keeper.”

Bevel laughs. “Oh, but I am.”

“And aren’t you sick of it?” Pip challenges.

Bevel shrugs. “That’s just Kintyre. You get used to it. It doesn’t bother me.”

“Well it bothers me,” Pip returns. “Actually, no, you know what bothers me? It’s not that he doesn’t know the social cues and common practices of politeness. What bothers me is that he observes them around him every day and has decided, however unconsciously, that they aren’t anything he needed to bother himself with. That learning to communicate and interact with other human beings was beneath him. That everyone would just recognize his superiority and marvel, and obey. That is what bothers me.”

I am so stunned by the boldness of her words that my tongue seems to be blocking up my throat. My heart is there, beating alongside it, hard and loud and painful. I have never, ever heard anyone challenge Kintyre this way.

Bevel isn’t certain how to respond. “Listen,” he says. “I think we got off on the wrong foot. You’re a pretty little girl–” he doesn’t seem to catch Pip’s incredulous look at the insulting diminutive “– so why don’t we just jump ahead to the end of the evening, hm? We promise we’ll be very gentle with you, won’t hurt your back at all.”

“And what happens at the end of the evening?” Pip asks, wary.

I cover my face with my hands. I cannot watch this. Either Bevel will insult and embarrass himself, or Pip will say yes, which will be worse. Either way, I do not want to see her face when it happens. I couldn’t bear it.

Bevel leans in close and whispers filth into her ear.

“What? Both of you?” Pip yelps, and her face twists in disgust. Bevel leans close and says something else, and Pip physically shoves him back. “No! No, I’m as happy to have a threesome with two hotties as any red-blooded girl, but you guys are complete sleazes. Get off me.”

She shoves him hard enough that Bevel knocks my chair and I have to look. He is stunned. I don’t know if he’s ever been turned down before. And Pip looks like fury incarnate.

On the other side of me, Kintyre raises himself from his indolent slouch and scoffs. “So I suppose it will be to Forsyth’s bed you go tonight, then?”

Pip goggles at him, eyes wide and mouth a scandalized ‘o’. “Hey, how about I go to nobody’s bed because, one, I am in pain because of you, you stupid behemoth, and two, because I’m not a prize that’s meted out at the end of dessert. Here’s a startling and revolutionary idea: maybe I just don’t want a fuck!”

Ah, so that’s what that expletive means.

“Maybe you’re just a frigid bitch,” Kintyre snaps.

Pip rocks back in her seat, stunned. “Oh my god! I cannot even believe I used to look up to you! You’re incredible! You’re nothing like Forsyth!”

“So that’s what this is about,” Kintyre snarls, his bright blue eyes snapping over to me. “Forssy’s already got his scrabbly little fingers and flaccid little prick into you.”

Pip pushes up to her feet and leans over me, her face puce with fury, to get up into Kintyre’s. “Don’t talk about your brother like that! He’s a good man! Better than you’ll ever be!”

“Oh, and now you let your woman talk for you, too, brother?” Kintyre sneers, rising to his own feet. “Perhaps she’s the man between you? Does she stick it to you? Do you think you’re in love, just because she hasn’t run away from you yet?”

I shrink down in my seat, too mortified to even get my tongue to stop fluttering against the roof of my mouth. I could never even make words like this.

“And is there something wrong with taking it up the arse?” Pip challenges. “Does it make you less of a man? Because Bevel seems to like it!”

Bevel and Kintyre both go pale and stagger. Bevel clutches at his chair. “How did you know?” he hisses.

“Silence!” Kintyre booms.

“Oh my god!” Pip says, exasperation written into every feature. “What does it matter what you two do together? Bevel’s disgustingly in love with you, you ridiculous moron! He always has been! It’s barely even subtext! He sets up threesomes for you just so he can touch you! Is that what all this macho manly shit is about? Cause there’s nothing wrong with loving who you love!”

“Nobody loves Forsyth Turn,” Kintyre snarls.

“Qu-qu-quiet!” I snap, standing and pushing Pip and Kintyre away from one another. “E-e-enough!”

“Not here,” Pointe snaps, his voice just loud enough for us to hear, but quiet enough that music keeps his words from reaching my guests. He crosses behind my chair to lay hands on Kintyre’s shoulders. “You’re not doing this here, Sir Kintyre. You’re drunk and shaming yourself. Master Bevel, get him into Forsyth’s study.”

But Kintyre is incensed. He is insulted. He pushes the Sword of Turnshire away and holds a hand out to stay Bevel. “I am shaming myself? Me? You’re the one shaming the Turn name, brother! You are pathetic,” Kintyre sneers. “Deciding that the first woman to show a grain of interest in you is actually infatuated with you? Look at you. What in the world could she find attractive about you? You saved her, that’s all. She’s being nice to you because you saved her, not because she likes you. And everyone here knows it.”

Faces frozen with shock all around us narrow and shut down. Nobody, not one guest, makes a sound in my support. Of course. They are laughing at me, silently, inside. Laughing at foolish Forsyth Turn, who thought he could make this woman fall in love with him.

“Now,” Kintyre says. “You are going to apologize and sit down and act like a proper lady, or I will leave you here to rot and never take you home!”

“I will not!”

“Kintyre…” Bevel starts, plucking at his sleeve, but Kintyre is embarrassed and feeling cruel and pushes him away hard enough that he slams into the table. Bevel turns hurt, dark eyes up at my brother and goes silent, biting so hard on his lower lip that the flesh turns white.

All the breath rushes from my body. Oh, incredible, Pip was right. Bevel Dom is in love with my brother and I never noticed. Poor Bevel. I hate the hedgehoggy little lackey, but to be in love with my brother and Kintyre so in love with women’s bodies… how cruel this Elgar Reed is. Poor, poor Bevel.

“Sit!” Kintyre repeats, pointing to the chair magnanimously, and Pip throws her own finger into the air, the middle one. It is clearly a rude gesture, but its exact meaning is unclear.

“I am not some docile dog you can order around,” Pip screams. “You are an asshole and a bully, Kintyre Turn, and I don’t want your help!”

The whole room falls into a screeching hush.

Kintyre goes very, very still. I can’t help the involuntary step back as his fingers twitch into a fist. It seems the survival instincts of childhood are still deeply ingrained.

“Good,” he grunts, fury in every line of his face. “As you will not be receiving it.”

“Kin!” Bevel squalls. “You can’t just turn down a maiden in distress.”

“I can and I have.”

“I’m not a maiden in distress,” Pip snarls, rounding on Bevel, who is utterly unprepared for his own tongue lashing and stumbles back into my brother’s arm. “I’m a woman and I am damn well capable of rescuing my own damn self, thank you very much.”

“Let us hope so,” Kintyre rumbles. “For your sake.”

And then he pushes past Pointe and storms out of the hall, Bevel quick on his heels.

Me and Untold Tale

Mine, all mine!

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Reblog: How to Throw a Coloring Party

How to Throw a Coloring Party

Colouring books for adults are a trend right now, but an enjoyable one. It’s relaxing to just sit and colour (though you really need to get the good pencil crayons, mine are so cheap they don’t work very well). A lot of libraries are starting to run colouring parties for adults, with the idea that it’s creative, relaxing, and a good way to socialize while you’re asking someone to please pass the blue crayon. This link is more for throwing a personal party, but it can be easily adapted to a library. You can get easy colouring books with large, simple designs to colour, or books with more intricate patterns that require more attention to detail. Crayons, pencil crayons, markers, you can use any medium you choose. It’s simple, cheap, and fun–the perfect program!

SLJ SummerTeen 2015

SLJ SummerTeen 2015.

This is a free virtual conference on teen services and collections that School Library Journal is offering next week. I’ve never attended a virtual conference, but this looks really interesting, and a great way to see what some of the trends are. See you (virtually) there!

Freedom to Read Week 2015

 

Freedom to Read 2015Freedom to Read Week in Canada was February 22-28 this year, so this post is a little bit late, but I still wanted to write about it.

At my school this last year, I had a high counter right beside the main door that I used for a book display, which I changed weekly. I used different themes, genres, holidays, and once a month I asked a grade to pick out their favourite books for the display. I tried to combine fiction and nonfiction and different reading levels so there was usually something for everyone, and I’d often select the books I read to the younger grades for storytime from that week’s display, unless the teacher had made a special request. For Freedom to Read Week, I wanted to display challenged books but to also give some of the reasons they were challenged and encourage the students to think about not just why were they challenged, but why were they defended, and did they, the students, agree with either side?

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I put up a Freedom to Read poster that I got from the OLA Super Conference and added two sheets above outlining what Freedom to Read Week was about and a copy of the Ontario Library Association Position on Children’s Rights in the Library.

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The sign above says:

FREEDOM TO READ WEEK

Freedom To Read Week celebrates the fundamental right of ALL Canadians (including children!) to think, believe, and express their own ideas and opinions, and to have access to materials that express different ideas, as guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Challenging a book means that someone complained and thought a book should be taken out of a library and nobody should be allowed to read it. All of the books on this display have been challenged at one time, because people thought they were bad books for children to read.

Can you guess the reasons? Look inside the book for the answer!

Do you agree with the reason? Do you want to read it?

 

I searched for lists of commonly challenged books online and the arguments both for and against them, and then I searched the school library to see what books we owned. I made a large bookmark for each book I selected for the display with the title, author, original publication date, arguments for and against each book, the source I’d found the information from, and ended each one by asking “What do you think?” You can somewhat see the bookmarks sticking up from the books in the display photo above.

The books I selected were:

  • The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  • The Wizard of OZ by L. Frank Baum
  • Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  • Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
  • The Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
  • Thomas Snowsuit by Robert Munsch
  • Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  • Walter the Farting Dog by William Kotzwinkle and Glenn Murray
  • Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
  • Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  • The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
  • The Sissy Duckling by Harvey Fierstein
  • The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Road Dahl
  • Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak by Deborah Ellis
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

The Snowy DayAnother challenged book that I read during storytime that week was The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, published in 1962 and awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1963 among controversy. The story is about a little boy who wanders around his neighbourhood exploring after a snowfall. I read it to 2 classes, around 35-ish kids or so (I usually let the kids vote between 2 books for storytime, and the other classes wanted to hear Where the Wild Things Are), and at the end I asked them why they thought some people would not like the book and think that it shouldn’t be in libraries and at children shouldn’t be allowed to read it. The kids suggested all kinds of things from the story, how Peter didn’t tell his mother where he was going and went out without a grown-up and shouldn’t have knocked down snow with a stick and shouldn’t have thrown snowballs with the bigger kids and shouldn’t have tracked snow inside and a lot of reasons that probably say a lot about our helicopter parenting society, but not one of them guessed the real reason, nor did some of the older students who tried to guess what was wrong with it. Every adult I asked looked at the cover and knew right away.

The Snowy Day was the first full-colour picture book with an African-American protagonist. All of the kids, regardless of race, thought this was a bizarre reason to object to the book. It gave me an excellent opportunity to point out how attitudes change over time, and what some people find objectionable others have no problem with or want to promote, and all of those people use the library and deserve to have books.

You can find the bookmarks I made here: Reasons for challenged books .

Welcome to the Kingdom of Books!

On March 24th of this year I found out I was running a book fair–on May 1st. I admit, when I opened that box and found out, there was a lot of “I’m doing what? WHEN?” I’d never run a book fair before, or even a major event by myself, though I’ve been part of running conventions for years, so it was a little intimidating, especially since the Battle of the Books was already coming up in April and my teams had to finish training.

I began by immediately signing up for the Scholastic book fair webinar, and I should say here how helpful Scholastic was, especially my liaison Vanessa. They have webinars, guides, online reproducibles and forms and letters and web art that you can use, and all sorts of bonuses and promotions and sample boxes of books. They make it as easy as they possibly can for someone to set it up and start selling.

The theme Scholastic had decided on for the book fairs that year was the Kingdom of Books, and I love fantasy so I was perfectly happy to run with that (plus, why do extra work to come up with a new theme when all of the signage, web art, etc. had already been made?). I started planning out what needed to be done, what I wanted to do extra, what materials and help I would need, and when everything needed to be done by. I had a million ideas, but only so many could realistically be done. And of course, everything had to be done in between my regular work, and the Battle of the Books, and the normal school operations.

To promote the Book Fair, I got some of the students to make posters which we scattered around the school, as well as putting up the official posters that Scholastic had sent. I wrote short scripts that the students read over the announcements in the morning, talking about different books that would be sold at the book fair. I gave the Book Fair details to the office to be included in the newsletter home to parents. I read the sample books provided by Scholastic to the classes during their regular storytimes. I ran four art and story contests, with the winners picked by a panel of teachers and myself. They each got to pick out one free item from the Book Fair, from a promotion allowance that Scholastic provided.

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Book Fair contest winners (on right)

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More Book Fair contest entries

 

Everything was delivered on May 1st, and I had to completely transform my library. I received both rolling bookshelves that could be opened with the product was already on it, and boxes full of books that had to be arranged on table as well as setting up the signage. My thanks to the grade 8 students who helped me move tables and drape tablecloths and put out books and get everything set up (they were so sad to miss French, of course). I put up the poster display, arranged the display of bookmarks, highlighters, pens, erasers, etc., and set up the checkout tables with the credit card machines, reorder forms, signage, etc. that they needed. I created a playlist that I had running during the Book Fair (mostly Heather Dale and Loreena McKennit, with the Wicked, Shrek: the Musical, and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella soundtracks mixed in. They were the most fairy tale-ish music I had).

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The Book Fair when you enter the library

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Impulse items table

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Minecraft! and other stuff

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Poster display

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Activity center

I also set up a small activity center for the kids to play in. My sister donated a cardboard castle, and I purchased some fairy-tale themed dress-up items (inside the red treasure chest in the pictures) using my own money–tiaras and fair wands, a knight’s armour set, a wizard’s hat, etc. I do have pictures of the kid playing with them (especially the bigger kids), but the school’s photography policy means I can’t post anything here with the kids’ faces or names. But you can take my word for it, they’re pretty funny. And I may or may not have gone around for the week wearing a crown. Hey, if the crown fits…

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Activity sheets and storyboard

I set up a small table with colouring and activity sheets and crayons. I also made a storyboard set. I printed off the web art that Scholastic had created, found a background image I liked on Google images and printed it too, coloured them, laminated them, cut them out, then stuck everything on a whiteboard easel with sticky tack. It came out quite nicely, and other than the sticky tack it was all materials I had around the library.

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Storyboard I made

All together, the Book Fair was open for one week, with a teacher preview on the Friday it was delivered, the next Monday and Tuesday were viewing days so the kids could make a list of what they wanted and show their parents before bringing in money, and the Wednesday and Thursday were the main buying days (though if anyone wanted to purchase their books before Wednesday, I certainly didn’t turn down money). Friday morning everything had to be packed up and ready to return. I opened early Wednesday morning for parents who dropped off their children in the morning, and Thursday night was the school open house, so I held a family event then for parents to come and shop for books. I actually ended up being at the school on Thursday from before 8 in the morning until after 10:30 at night (less the half-hour I took to go get a pizza, of course. Gotta have fuel). I had recruited a parent and a teacher and more than 20 students to work during the family event, to keep everything tidy and answer questions and cash people out, and it was still  insanely busy.

Book Fair money nonameBut at the end, I was very pleased with the results. We passed the goal I set! I set a goal of $5000, and we made $6296.15 gross. Hooray! Lots of new books for the library, and lots of new books that the kids got to keep! Talk about a win-win!

Looking back, there are things I would do differently if I had to do it again. While the kids were excited to volunteer and help out, I really needed an assistant to help watch them and make sure everyone was doing their designated job instead of goofing around. I could have emphasized a little more that they were there to work. The organization of the announcements could have been a little tighter. The classroom wish list program wasn’t terribly successful.

That said, I’m very proud of what I accomplished. I surpassed my sales goal. I planned, organized, promoted, set up, ran, and tore down the book fair, and I did most of it by myself. I think everyone who attended had fun, and most of the students bought something. It was definitely a challenge, but one I met, and ultimately it was a great experience. Now let’s see what my next challenge will be…

 

OLA Super Conference 2015 review

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(Sorry this is really late, I did start it right after the conference, but unfortunately paid work has to come before unpaid blogging and I haven’t had time until now.)

I ended my review of last year’s OLA Super Conference by saying I hoped I would be attending this year as an employed librarian, and I did! May this trend continue! And my trend of having a great time at the Super Conference!

This was the first year I didn’t volunteer, since I was going for my library. But kudos to all of the volunteers and the committee staff who put on such a great event!

Wednesday

I started Wednesday morning at Raquel Solon’s session on Challenging, Refusing, & Venting, Oh My! How to Handle Conflict in the Workplace. While it was really intended for working with adult patrons and co-workers, I think some of her advice can be modified for the children I work with. Her 5 Steps for Setting Effective Limits in particular are something that I think I was doing without articulating it the same way. This one was definitely a good choice, and potentially very useful for me. Plus I ran into a friend from library school that I haven’t seen since last year’s conference, so that was nice. We grabbed lunch with another friend from school and one of the first friend’s coworkers, and we caught up on everything from the last year.

After lunch was the talk by the cartoonist Seth in the theatre, which oddly enough I’ve never been in before despite attending around 4 events a year at the MTCC. It was a quiet, calm talk, and interesting.

In the afternoon I went to Rachel Seigal’s presentation on Spine-Tingling, Bone Chilling, Hair Raising Horror for Kids. I have several kids in my library who like scary stories, but I don’t have a lot to offer them other than Goosebumps, and not a lot of those. She had some good title suggestions that I can look for. Though I have had a little success suggesting The Picture of Dorian Grey from our Great Illustrated Classics series–hey, not all classics are boring.

For the last session of the day, I went to Where Marvel Meets Mididle Earth: Fanfiction in the Library, presented by Nancy-Anne Davies and Erin Tutte, mostly because fanfiction! It was a great presentation, but they spent a lot of time talking about fandom and fan culture and what fan fiction is, and I think they could have shortened it a bit more. Fandom is pretty mainstream now, and a lot of people at the panel were fans who sounded like they were already pretty familiar with what fanfiction is, so they probably could have spent more time talking about running their writing clubs. But I always love hearing about fandom and how popular it’s becoming, and meeting new fans. And writing fanfic is a terrific way to practice learning how to write, by just playing in an existing universe’s sandbox and filling in the gaps or correcting The Powers That Be’s mistakes (Richie Ryan from Highlander: the Series ducked. He never died. La, la, la, I can’t hear you, he’s alive and still racing motorcycles and dating girls who get him in trouble and cadging meals off Duncan MacLeod whenever he’s in town. So there.).

Next I joined some friends and we attended a performance of “The Librarians” episode of Welcome to Nightvale, a podcast written like an old-style radio program. I’ve heard of it before, but I’d never listened to an episode. And HOLY HILARIOUS BATMAN that was funny! As Indira Gandhi said, you can’t shake a mangled hand that has been chewed up by a librarian. Although I maintain that librarians do not have exoskeletons, we’re shapeshifters. (Go listen to Welcome to Nightvale to get the joke. Bring alcohol with you. All of the alcohol.)

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The end of the night was at the networking event, with food and games. The giant crosswords were fun!

Thursday

I started Thursday with Using Picture Books in Content Areas, presented by Harriet Zaidman. Sorry for coming in a few minutes late–my train was delayed. I’ve read some terrific picture books working in an elementary school library, but unfortunately not all of them are suited to the storytime I do for kindergarten-grade 3. As much as I love Melanie Watt’s work (and I really love it), she can be hard to read aloud with all of the tangents and asides that she goes into. Though my kindies did love the Chester books. There are some fantastic picture books for older kids that can really drive home a lesson better than pure text like a novel can.

After that I attended Good Question! Let’s Find Out!: Inquiry Partnerships, presented by Kristina Burbidge and Debbie Vert. I thought it was interesting, though somewhat less applicable to me as a librarian and not a teacher-librarian–ideally, I would love to treat each question from a student as an inquiry/teaching moment, but when I have six 8-year-olds asking me for things at the same time and 10 minutes left in the period to help them and get the class of 25 checked out and lined up, sometimes I have to resort to “It’s over there on the third shelf from the top” as opposed to “let’s look on the computer together and find out where the books on dolphins belong”. What I wouldn’t give for a smartboard so I could do a demonstration for everyone in the class at once on how to search through the catalogue and where the databases are…

I went to the Children’s Storytime Workshop: Tips and Tricks, presented by Emily Farrell and Toni Murray, and I loved it. They were so enthusiastic, and they had some great advice that matched up with my own experiences doing storytime. Always go for the funny! And do the voices whenever possible, even if you aren’t very good at them. And this is where I first encountered B.J. Novak’s The Book With No Pictures, which I ended up buying at the OLA Store later and read to all of my classes. It was a huge hit, and I should have bought 3 copies because I had a huge waiting list of kids who wanted to borrow it. From January to the end of the year, it didn’t stay in the library because there was always someone who wanted it.

Thursday afternoon I spent wandering the Expo floor collecting new books (see list below). I do love seeing what’s coming out soon, and meeting friends wandering around too. I went to the Western FIMS reception in the evening–not to many people from my cohort went, but it was still nice to meet fellow Western alumni.

Friday

Friday morning was the Forest of Reading breakfast, and it was lovely to meet some of the voices from our conference calls! And always snag a table close to the tea, especially at 8 in the morning. Immediately following the breakfast was the Forest showcase, where all of the 2014 winners spoke about their books and their experiences with being a part of the Forest of Reading.

Forest Breakfast

I spent more time on the Expo floor, and then in the afternoon I went to Inquiring Minds and Blue Spruce, presented by Ruth Gretsinger. She had some great tips about how to use picture books and inquiry questions to teach younger kids about how to do research and to think about the books they are reading, for example by using “I wonder” statements instead of direct questions.

And of course, I got books. Lovely, lovely books that came home with me, some to stay and some just resting on their way to my library. If only they didn’t weigh so much when I’m trying to carry two heavy bags plus my purse home on the train while bundled up for winter. I came home with:

Books

  • The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs that I REALLY REALLY WANTED and I’m so happy I got a copy, and signed! I’m happy to report that it was as good as I was hoping it would be. It’s a great intro to the world of fandom and specifically how to guide yourself as a lady geek around the world of cons, cosplay, fanfic, and the wilds of the internet. It’s an ARC to be published by Quirk Books, so it’s missing a few page references, but the art is really cute.
  • Catch You Later, Traitor by Avi. This is an uncorrected proof I picked up that will be published by Tundra Books, about a boy whose father is accused of being a Communist in 1950s New York, and he has to figure out if there really is a Communist in his family and what that means for them.
  • Dance of the Banished by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch, published by Pajama Press, about a pair of star-crossed Anatolian teenagers in 1914, who are separated by war and horrified by what happens to their Christian Armenian friends. I got this one signed, and as always it was lovely to see Marsha.
  • An ARC of The Journal by Lois Donovan, that will be published by Ronsdale Press, about an Asian teenager in Vancouver whose mother receives a mysterious letter and uproots the family to Edmonton. Then she reads a family journal of old newspaper clippings that sends her back in time to 1929, here she encounters racial prejudice and meets the Famous Five who fought to have women recognized as legal persons.
  • Best Friends Through Eternity by Sylvia McNicoll. This is a signed proof that will be published by Tundra Books about an adopted Chinese girl who has an accident and a near-death experience. The blurb on the back is mysterious in an It’s a Wonderful Life sort of way.
  • An ARC of Mars Evacuees by Sophia McDougall, that will be published by Puffin, about a girl who gets evacuated to Mars during a war with aliens, and has adventures. It looks like the start of a new series.
  • An ARC of Random Acts Valerie Sherrard that will be published by Puffin, about a group of friends who decide to start committing random acts of kindness, except they all go wrong.
  • The Fight for Pow3r by Eric Walters, the sequel to The Rule of 3, and published by Razorbill. I was happy to get this one, and signed, because I’ve already had a kid request that I buy it. I read the first book in the trilogy, and it was scary how plausible it was, and I may have to, uh, preread this one before I give it to the kids. For…reasons. Mainly so I get a chance to read it. (Later note: good thing I did, because this one was pretty popular and I wouldn’t have gotten a chance to read it once it was out in the library. Waiting on book 3 now!)
  • Dirk Daring, Secret Agent by Helaine Becker, published by Orca Books, signed, about a boy whose evil stepbrother steals his secret spy journal and uses it to blackmail Dirk into doing his biding and spying on the kids at school. This type of illustrated diary is pretty popular with my kids right now, and I can always use a new readalike for Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Popularity Papers, since the kids have read them all already.
  • An ARC of Andreo’s Rage by Pam Withers, that will be published by Tundra Books, about a pair of friends racing in Bolivia and searching for their parents.
  • Stealing Time by Anne Dublin, a Jonah Wiley Adventure published by Dundurn. I got this one signed too. It’s a time travel story about two brothers who have to learn to work together to get back home.
  • The Magician of Auschwitz written by Kathy Kacer and illustrated by Gillian Newland, and published by Second Story Press. This is a picture book and a fictionalized true story about a boy in Auschwitz and a magician who performed magic tricks to keep the guards amused and save his own life. I got this one signed by Kathy Kacer, who is well-known for her stories about the Holocaust. This is a dark, sad story, about the things that people had to do to survive in a terrible place, but also with a happy-ish ending because some people did survive and built themselves lives and families.
  • Real Justice: Jailed for Life for Being Black: The Story of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter by Bill Swan and published by Lorimer. This one I got for going to the Lorimer booth and bringing a copy of their email about the giveaway–it’s worth it to opt in for emails from publishers! At least if you want to know about upcoming titles. I’ve read the one from this series about David Milgaard by Cynthia J. Faryon, and it was a good, fast, easy-read version of his story, so I wouldn’t mind reading another in the series.
  • Our Heroes: How Kids Are Making a Difference written and illustrated by Janet Wilson. This book is signed, and published by Second Story Press. I got her book Our Rights: How Kids Are Changing the World last year for myself, and I managed to snag the last copy of the one she was signing this year. Saying please nicely does work! This is a nonfiction picture book about child activists from around the world, and their chosen causes and what they are doing to make the world a better place.
  • Rachel’s Hope by Shelly Sanders, signed and published by Second Story Press. This is the last book in a trilogy, about a Jewish girl and her family who flee Russia and end up in San Francisco right before the earthquake of 1906.
  • The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak, published by Dial Books for Young Readers. This book I purchased through the OLA Store. It was recommended in a couple of the panels I attended, and it’s very funny. I can’t wait to read it during storytime at the library. I know the kids will get a big kick out of it. (Later note: they loved it! I should have bought 2 copies!)
  • Drama by Raina Telgemeier, published by Scholastic, which I purchased because the kids keep asking for it. She’s one of the most-requested authors in my library. (Later note: this was so popular it unfortunately got wrecked quickly after I bought it when pages kept falling out, and I had o order a copy from Permabound. Here’s hoping that one lasts a little longer!)
  • Q Tasks, Second Edition, by Carol Koechlin and Sandi Zwaan, published by Pembroke Publishers, about encouraging students to ask questions and be curious. I bought this one is for the teachers more than the kids, and it was highly recommended by a teacher-librarian friend.
  • The Time Roads by Beth Bernobich, an advance proof that will be published by Tor Books. This is described on the back as “a fantastical nineteenth century alternate historical steampunk romp”, and that caught my fancy. I picked this one up for myself, for my laughable “free time”.
  • The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency No. 1: The Case of the Missing Moonstone by Jordan Stratford and illustrated by Kelly Murphy. This is an ARC that will be published by Alfred A. Knopf. This is a middle-grade historical mystery about Ada Lovelace and Mary Shelley meeting as girls and forming a detective agency. I like the look of this one, and mysteries aren’t too popular with my kids, so I may keep this one too.
  • Valiant by Sarah McGuire, an uncorrected proof to be published by Egmont. This is a retelling of the Brave Little Tailor with a girl in the main role. I love feminist retellings of fairy tales, and the back blurb compares it to Gail Carson Levine, whose work I love, so I’m excited to read this one.
  • On a Scale from Idiot to Complete Jerk: A Highly Scientific Study of Annoying Behavior, Science Project by J.J. Murphy with Alison Hughes, published by Orca Books. I picked this up for the title, and I thought it was so funny I bought two copies, one for me and one for the library. In fact, I even convinced a friend to buy the last copy! This book is set up as an actual report using the scientific method, complete with a history, definitions, case studies, hypothesis, experiment, observations, conclusions, and even charts.
  • Fun-brarian: Games, Activities & Ideas to Liven Up Your Library! by Kathleen Fox and published by Upstart Books. I bought this for my personal collection, since I’m trying to build my own professional reference library. This is filled with great games and activities to get kids familiar with the rules of the library and things like DDC and how to find books, book care, library terminology, and more. I wish I’d had it before I started at my current library. Oh well, maybe for the next job–they’re really more things that you would do at the start of the school year than in the middle. Still I think it will be really useful for me in the future.

Oh, and I won one of the passport prizes! Thank you to Library Services Centre for providing my awesome prize! I got a Blu-Ray of Octopussy, a hardcover of The Superior Spider-Man vol. 2, a nice French copy of  Le Monde de Downton Abbey by Jessica Fellowes (unfortunately I don’t speak French), and my favourite of the lot, Doctor Who: The Secret Lives of Monsters by Justin Richards. The volunteers in the room were all laughing at my big silly grin when I saw that one in the bag. And thank you Beckie for telling me that I’d won a prize and to go get it!

Prize

All in all, I had a great time again at the Super Conference, and I’m very grateful that my principal allowed me to attend all three days. I learned a lot, and came home with books and notes and flyers and all sorts of fascinating new best practices whirling around in my head. I hope I can go again next year!

Word on the Street Toronto 2014 review

This past Sunday was the 24th annual Word on the Street festival, and despite the dire predictions of rain all day long, it was a lovely sunny day (by the time I got there after having lunch with friends). I didn’t end up volunteering this year, since I’m currently working a full-time library job and a part-time retail job, and Sunday was my first day off since Labour Day (for the record, that was 19 days straight of work. Yes, I’m crazy).

It was a hugely busy day–I went by the HarperCollins table 3 times before I could get close enough to see the table, though I wouldn’t expect much else from a $3 and under table. The third Hobbit movie had an artist drawing you as a Hobbit, and the line for that one was very long–a friend of mine waited for close to three hours, and got cut off at the end, and then someone else butted into the line and got her drawing while my friend didn’t. 😦 The TPL library workers had a booth set up to get your picture taken with a cutout of the mayoral candidate of your choice, and information about where all three of the major candidates stand with regards to public library service. Polkaroo was back with the TVO Kids booth–I didn’t get a picture this time, but I swear I saw him!

Oh yeah, and I might have picked up just a few new books…Because when I have two shelves full of new books to read, a laptop full of ebooks, a whole new library where the kids all think I’ve already read every single book in it, and a very large backlog of reviews to write, I definitely need new books. Really, I do.

  • TD and TVO Kids were handing out Boy Soup by Loris Lesynski, with pictures by Michael Martchenko, which was the 2013 TD Grade One Book Giveaway book. It also included a cute activity book for the TVO Reading Rangers Book Club.
  • I bought Bi-Curious George by Andrew Simonian, because it’s bloody hilarious. But I don’t think that I’ll be reading the story of this curious little monkey to Tiny Niece anytime soon. ;p (The review can be found here.)
  • I bought Fan Fiction: The Comic Strip, written by Sam Noir and art by Dave Franciosa, again because it’s hilarious. This one is definitely for nerds with a lively sense of humour about their favourite characters. And Sam Noir was drawing free sketches for people! Here’s mine of Max the vampire bat from Munchsters, his new web comic, with custom rainbow vest!Sam Noir bat
  • I found a cool and (signed!) comic called The Power Within written by Charles “Zan” Christensen and illustrated by Mark Brill. You can buy a paper copy for $4.99 or download a free copy here from the publisher Northwest Press. It also includes some resources and bonus pages from Gail Simone,  Phil Jimenez, Greg Rucka, Matthew Clark, Stephen Sadowski, Dan Parent, Donna Barr, Andy Mangels, and Carla Speed McNeil.
  • I was given a free copy of Freddy and Margewich written by Adena Trevor and illustrated by Chelsea Trevor at the Author Solutions booth–they had been doing free book signings all day for various authors, and at the end of the day they gave away all their remaining books. It’s two short stories in a picture book, and the art is by the author’s granddaughter.
  • I bought Branded by the Pink Triangle by Ken Setterington because I read it earlier this year and found it a powerful read, about the experience of gay men in Nazi Germany.
  • I bought Project Superherowritten by E. Paul Zehr and illustrated by Kris Pearn because it looked cool. It’s about a girl in grade 8 who loves superheroes and starts researching them for a school project, and it includes her interviews with real-life people including athletes, police officers, comic book writers, and astronauts. (The review can be found here.)
  • I bought Pain, Porn and Complicity: Women Heroes from Pygmalion to Twilight by  Kathleen McConnell, because even though the title implies that there was a woman hero in Twishite instead of a badly-written Mary Sue, she includes an essay on Dark Angel (which was great and cancelled too soon, damn you FOX), and the essay on Catwoman is called “Flex and Stretch: The Inevitable Feminist Treatise on Catwoman” and I’d forgive a lot for that brilliant title. And academic fandom and feminism are both interests of mine, so this book looks right up my alley.
  • And finally I bought Mini Myths: Play Nice, Hercules! by Joan Holub and illustrated by Leslie Patricelli, but this one is for Tiny Niece. Hercules is proud that he’s so strong, but he has to learn to play nicely with his little sister and not make her cry.

So, this should keep me occupied for awhile. At least, until the next book fair…

I met the MakerBot

Last night was the Meet the MakerBot Event at Oakville Public Library, to demonstrate their new 3D printer to the public. Maker culture is becoming increasingly popular, and a lot of libraries are purchasing 3D printers and making them available to their patrons for use. There were some 3D printer demonstrations at the OLA Super Conference this year, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend any of them (too many interesting things!), so I was excited to find out that my local library was offering this demo.

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3D printing is a way of making a 3 dimensional object from a digital file. You design something using a 3D modeling program, like Tinkercad or AutoDesk 123D, which then turns the design into hundreds and thousands of layers. The printer is basically a hot glue gun that puts down layers of a  special plastic wire into the pattern, and creates the object. You can check out this link for more information about how 3D printing works. Here’s an elephant that they stopped printing in the middle that shows what it looks like inside.

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We weren’t able to make anything ourselves, though there are workshops for kids and teens to sign up and make things themselves–it just takes too long to print things to do at a demonstration. There were 2 slide shows running that you could sit and watch, one about 3D printers in general and about OPL’s programs and plans for it, and one that looped some YouTube videos about Maker Culture and what people are doing with 3D printers–I was fascinated by the one about using a 3D printer to make moving prosthetic hands for people. Imagine that, making yourself a hand. Some parents of children with birth defects in their hands reached out to the man who was experimenting with printing himself a hand, and he was able to make the children a hand that could curl the fingers and grasp an object, something they had never been able to do before. The hands are even recyclable–when you outgrow one, you can rescale the design and make a new one, and give the old hand to someone else who needs it. Talk about people giving each other a hand…

(sorry, I couldn’t resist)

They started off trying to make a castle during the demo, but there seems to be something wrong with the design they were using, because it wouldn’t work. Oh well–experimentation is half the fun! They restarted the printer making another dinosaur like the one above, which takes about 3 hours so we didn’t see it completed during the event. Here’s a closer picture of the completed dinosaur and the work in progress:

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Since it’s printed in layers, it has to be built with supports that can be cut away when completed to make parts like the arms, tail and head. The picture of the wolf shows some of the supports left on, which would normally be cut away.

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And here’s a figure with chicken legs that were too thin and broke because the supports weren’t enough. The broken figure is on the left and the base with the feet is on the right. Anything that is made with the 3D printer must be able to exist according to normal physics, so something that is too top-heavy will break. You can get some free designs from Thingiverse, which is a great resource for people to share their designs.

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Here’s a little TARDIS charm, that shows how fine the detail work can be, and a picture to show you the scale.

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This is a pair of train tracks that they made. They made the two pieces separated, but at the same time. You can make multiple objects at the same time as long as you start them at the same time–you can’t start an object and then start another one while the first is still in progress. The train tracks fit together really nicely.

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Their teen workshop made a bunch of little superhero action figures.

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Here’s Superman and Batman, though the chest symbols can be a little hard to make out in the pictures.

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Fortunately the plastic takes paint very nicely, if you want your creation to be multiple colours (this model printer can only work with one colour of plastic at a time, though there are many different colours that you can buy).

Oakville-20140624-00778The whole event was hugely fascinating. They had a few laptops set up so you could look at Thingiverse designs and some of the CAD programs, which was a ton of fun once I was able to get some time on one (the kids loved playing with them). The volunteers and library staff were very knowledgeable and willing to answer any questions–I had a lot! Though I think the most knowledgeable one of all was a mid-teens boy who was attending the event–he seemed to know more about how the printers work than everyone else there! I particularly want to compliment Stephanie from the Children’s Department–she was standing right beside the printer and was incredibly patient with all of the kids (and me) asking her incessant questions.

It was a really fun event, and the 3D printer and it’s possibilities are fascinating. We really are living in a Star Trek world–we have communicators and PADDs (cell phones and tablets) and now we’re on our way to having replicators. I hope they have some workshops for adults soon–I want to play with one some more!

Festival of Trees 2014 review

Wednesday May 14th and Thursday May 15th were the days of the 2014 Toronto Festival of Trees, the two day awards ceremony for the Ontario Library Association’s Forest of Reading program, in which children vote for their favourite Canadian books. I attended the 2013 Festival of Trees as a volunteer, and I had such an amazing time and I was so impressed by the program that when the call for volunteer committee members went out last fall, I answered (possibly too loudly, since I ended up on three different committees!). For the 2013-2014 year I was on the Silver Birch Express Steering Committee, which means that I contacted some of the nominated authors and illustrators to inform of them of their nomination (which was great because they were all so pleased and excited to be nominated), and then acted as a liaison, asking about which of the festivals they would like to attend, if they would like to attend the OLA Super Conference last January and the Forest of Reading breakfast, and communicated the details about attending the Toronto Festival.

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The festival events were fairly similar to last year–there were several games where you could win books or candy, Jenga blocks, a juggler on stilts, Isabella Hoops with her hula hoops, the graffiti trees where you could write notes about your favourite book or author, the story wall where you could write the next sentence in the story, the tattoo station, the book trade tent, author and illustrators doing signings and workshops, the White Hots tent where you could buy any of the nominated books, and of course the award ceremonies themselves. Lots to do!

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Wednesday was the day for the Blue Spruce, Red Maple, and White Pine awards, so I was a general volunteer. I spent the day mainly bouncing around the games and the graffiti trees, wherever I was needed. The game where you throw a frisbee around a piece of candy on a table? Not that easy. Though there was a frisbee team at the end of the day who really, really tried to do it.

After the Festival was a reception for the authors, illustrators, committee members, volunteers, and various publishers and representatives of local book festivals. I talked to some very interesting and friendly people, and I was able to get Susin Neilsen to sign my copy of The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen.

Thursday was the day for the Silver Birch Express award, as well as Silver Birch Fiction, Silver Birch Non Fiction, Le Prix Tamarac, Le Prix Tamarac Express, and Le Prix Peuplier awards. In the morning I assisted Philippa Dowding and Jennifer Lanthier with their workshop. Philippa spoke about her book The Gargoyle at the Gates, and Jennifer spoke about hers, The Stamp Collector. Philippa talked about the origins of gargoyles, and what inspired her to write about them, and then performed her song the Gargoyle Shuffle. Jennifer read The Stamp Collector, and then together they did a Q&A. There was a big turnout and the kids seemed really interested.

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After that we had to get ready for the Silver Birch Express award, since it was the last one of the Festival. Each of the nominated authors had a pair of students acting as their sign carriers and presenters on stage, and the kids wrote their own speeches to introduce each author, which they had to say in front of a couple thousand of their fellow students. All of the kids who volunteered to do this did an amazing job, and it was obvious how much effort they each put into introducing their favourite authors.

Toronto-20140515-00744The audience was screaming like it was rock stars on stage, they were so excited, but only one book could win, and it was The Secret of the Village Fool, written by Rebecca Upjohn and illustrated by Renne Benoit. I was actually Rebecca and Renne’s liaison for the Silver Birch Express, and I was thrilled when they won–they’re both lovely and talented people, although all of the nominated authors are. (For the record, that’s Renne on the left and Rebecca on the right in both pictures.)

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It was a terrific if exhausting two days (8,000 kids attended the Toronto Festival over the two days), and it’s so wonderful to see how excited the kids were to meet their favourite authors and ask them questions and tell them what they thought about their books. I wish my school had participated back when I was in elementary school, but it would have just been getting started, since this year was the 20th anniversary of the program. I’m so pleased to have been a part of it this year, and I’m looking forward to next year since I’m on two of the selection committees for 2014-15 (though I’m not saying which ones!). Let’s see who wins next year’s award!

For the record, the 2014 Forest of Reading winners are:

Blue Spruce: Oddrey by Dave Whamond

Silver Birch Express: The Secret of the Village Fool by Rebecca Upjohn and illustrated by Renne Benoit

Silver Birch Fiction: Record Breaker by Robin Stevenson

Silver Birch Non FictionOne Step at a Time: A Vietnamese Child Finds Her Way by Marcha Forchuk Skrypuch

Red Maple Fiction: The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen by Susin Neilsen

White Pine Fiction: Live to Tell by Lisa Harrington

White Pine Non Fiction: The Secret of the Blue Trunk by Lise Dion and translated by Liedewij Hawke

Le Prix Tamarac: Une Fille a l’ecole des gars by Maryse Peyskens

Le Prix Tamarac Express: Attention, j’arrive! (BiBop) by Raymond Parent

Le Prix Peuplier: Une mouche, un chat et une patate by Celine Malepart

 

Free Comic Book Day 2014 review

So last Saturday, as the first Saturday in May, was Free Comic Book Day, and it was great! This was the 12th year it’s been held, and the 4th year that I’ve participated. I went to my local comic book store, The Comic Connection. They went all out, with special sales, cosplayers taking pictures with people, local comic artists selling their work, and of course, the free comics! Here’s my haul:

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I haven’t read everything yet (real life really gets in the way of reading, don’t you find?), but so far I loved the Guardians of the Galaxy and Rocket Raccoon comics–I’m really looking forward to the Guardians of the Galaxy movie due out later this year. Epic was fun–talk about a nightmare for a teenage boy who wakes up with superpowers! I really enjoyed Help the CBLDF Defend Comics as a good history of comics in America and some of the challenges that have been faced over the years. And though I haven’t read it through yet, Raising a Reader! How Comics & Graphic Novels Can Help Your Kids Love to Read! looks really useful to me as a librarian, since it outlines the appeal factors of comics and how to read them and why they are designed the way they are. I think this one is particular would be really useful for any librarians who aren’t familiar with comics and why people (not just kids!) read them. The full list of what was available is here. I’m disappointed that I never saw the Grimm Fairy Tales, since I collect the trades, but oh well.

Comic Connection was also handing out Iron Man masks. The only problem is that I wear glasses (thanks mom & dad for the lousy vision genes) and there’s a very good reason that superheroes only wear glasses in their secret identities, not with their hero costumes…

Iron Man CorrinaI also might have picked up one or two other things while I was already there…

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Free Comic Book Day is amazing and fun, but it’s also important to support your local comic store–they still have to pay for all of the free comics. Also, I wanted these anyway.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a lot of reading to do…