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Books to Share and Savour

by Betsy - 0 Comment(s)

There are a few new titles in our collection with a wonderful whimsy that makes them worth sharing, whether with your children, your classroom, or a child who may be having an upcoming birthday.

For Preschoolers

Love MonsterThe first title in Rachel Bright's new picture book series introduces us to an admittedly funny looking monster. Love Monster knows that he isn't the best-looking guy in the world, but he's determined to find someone who will love him. Adults will know that this doesn't work, and will appreciate that he's reading all the wrong self-help books, looking in the wrong places (up, down, the pond), yet, as one can always hope, just when one is about ready to give up, love is around the corner. There will be two more titles in a series intended for preschoolers and anyone reading to or with them.

 

For Kids 8–12

Snicker of MagicNatalie Lloyd's debut introduces readers to Felicity Pickle in A Snicker of Magic. The Pickles have always moved from place to place, as Felicity's mother has never been comfortable staying anywhere; it isn't until the Pickles get to Midnight Gulch, Tennessee, a town that had once been known for its magic, that Felicity finds herself longing to create a home for her family. Felicity herself has a touch of magic in her ability to see words emanating from people, which she then collects. Felicity meets her first real friend Jonah, who has a kind of magic of his own. Felicity sets out to discover what happened to Midnight Gulch's magic and whether she can, perhaps, bring it back, along with some security to her own family.

The denizens of this wonderful place are all as novel as you would expect in a place where ice cream has mystical properties, and the hair stylists are also mechanics. Felicity's appreciation of and use of language add to the book, and the extra tales, curse, and backstories will provide a treat for readers aged 8-12 who enjoys stories about language, families, and clever settings, along with a happy ending.

Fun Reads to Start 2014

by Stephen - 0 Comment(s)


Sometimes the best books are the ones we find by accident. When looking for a few new titles to write about for 2014, a slight typo in my searching provided me with some surprisingly fun results!

Fourteen Fibs

The 14 Fibs of Gregory K. by Greg Pincus

Gregory is not particularly fond of math, especially the math on his report card, which is telling him he is probably going to fail his least favorite subject. Unfortunately his family loves math more than anything, especially when it comes to the annual city-wide mathematics competition which Gregory has promised to enter this year, just like his father did when he was Gregory’s age. What Gregory really wants is to attend author camp where he can pursue his love of writing poetry, but with his current grades, it looks like he may be sent to math camp instead. Guess what they do at math camp...

I'd recommend this one for grades 4-8.

 

Monument 14 by Emmy LaybourneMonument 14

14 students take refuge in a super-box-store following the biggest natural disaster in history (seriously, it involves a volcano, tsunamis, giant hail, super-storms, and earthquakes). If the natural disaster wasn’t enough, chemicals leaking from a nearby military base are causing strange symptoms in each of the children, which differ depending on their blood type. What could have ended up being just another post-apocalyptic young adult novel is instead a gripping account of survival. Think Dawn of the Dead meets Lord of the Flies at The Breakfast Club.


I would recommend this one for teens, although adults will find much to enjoy as well.

 

Serve to Win

Serve to Win: the 14 day Gluten-Free Plan

Tennis great Novak Djokovic offers this memoir/diet book which recounts his experiences during the bombing of Belgrade, his rise to become the number 1 ranked tennis player in the world and finally his health struggles surrounding his body’s inability to process wheat. Djokovic shares the diet plan he followed to rid himself of his gluten-related health issues, lose weight and rise to the very top of his game.

Selectors' Favourites

by Stephen - 1 Comment(s)

The book selectors at the Calgary Public Library see thousands of books over the course of a year as they look for new and exciting materials for the Library's collection. Although it is impossible to remember all of them, every year a few books stand out above the rest. Here are four of the selector's favourite reads from 2013!

 

RelishRelish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley.

It is a joy to read this graphic memoir celebrating the author’s life-long love affair with food – from her mother’s perfect chocolate chip cookies and a great recipe for huevos rancheros, to an appreciation for junk food that her father, a chef, finds unbelievably frustrating when she enters a McDonalds in Italy. Readers will find both the story and the included recipes worth their time.

 



 

Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala.Wave

Wave is a heart wrenching memoir about the devastating 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami in the Indian Ocean. Sonali Deraniyagala, her husband, two sons and parents were enjoying their Christmas vacation in Sri Lanka when the tsunami hit and in an instant Sonali lost her entire family. How does a person continue to live when everything they know is taken from them? Wave is a powerful book about grief, loss, anger, healing, honesty and most importantly love.

 







The Day the Crayons QuitThe Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers.

This entertaining picture book chronicles the dramatic labour dispute between Duncan and his crayons through a series of letters outlining each colour’s grievances. Grey is sick of colouring in all of those enormous elephants and whales, black is sick of being limited to outlining everything and yellow and orange can’t agree on who should be responsible for the Sun. With charming illustrations and a great sense of humour this is the best kind of picture book for parents and children alike.

 

 

 

 

CanadaI could not put down Richard Ford’s memorable book “Canada”. His sparse and lyrical writing eloquently captivates the harsh reality of Dell Parson’s life as he is traumatically separated from his family to begin life anew in 1960’s rural Saskatchewan. When his parents are arrested and imprisoned in Montana, he is smuggled across the Canadian border and put under the care of mysterious American, Arthur Remlinger. The story is powerfully told through young Dell’s eyes as we see his struggle to redefine himself and develop his own moral compass. Despite the underlying current of violence, this is ultimately a story of hope.

In Search of Short Stories

by Dieu - 2 Comment(s)

I admit that despite being an avid reader, I never liked reading short stories. The short story genre always seemed to me like it was the finger-food of fiction instead of the full meal of a novel. From my conversations with friends and from reading blogs, online articles and forums on the subject, it became clear that I was in the majority of readers who never read short fiction. It wasn’t until I read The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman that I realized how good short stories can be.

Book cover of the Imperfectionists

The Imperfectionists is a perfect introduction to the short story form for readers who are hesitant to enter that unfamiliar territory. Bridging the two worlds of novel and short stories, The Imperfectionists chronicles the trials and tribulations of a fictional struggling newspaper based in Rome.

Although technically a novel, each chapter reads as its own distinct story following a different character as they each navigate their way through relationships, ambitions, failures and disillusionment in the post-digital age of journalism. While distinct enough to stand on their own, the stories cross over into each other, revealing a web of connections between the players as the reader progresses through the book.

As I was reading each chapter, I found myself becoming engrossed in the personal lives of the sympathetic, neurotic and complicated reporters, journalists, and editors. Insightful, witty and offering an inside look at the world of journalism (the author himself is a journalist), The Imperfectionists will leave readers wanting more from this first-time author.


If you’re looking for classic short fiction, I highly recommend anything by Anton Chekhov. Universally regarded as one of the greatest of all short story writers, Chekhov’s writing has a way of drawing you in and lingering with you long after the story has ended. I find that when I read Chekhov, I not only care for his characters, but I also find myself immersed in a particular time and place of Russian history, geography and customs.

If you are to read anything by Chekhov, his short story trilogy comprised of, A Man in a Shell, Gooseberries, and About Love are not to be missed. About Love has to be one of my favourite pieces of fiction for its poignant look at the regret and yearning of lost love. A moving passage from the story:

"I understood that when you love, and when you think about this love, you must proceed from something higher, of more importance than happiness or unhappiness, sin or virtue in the commonplace sense; or you mustn't think about it at all."

An excellent compact illustrated edition of the trilogy called, About Love: 3 Short Stories by Chekhov is available at the Calgary Public Library.

Book cover of About Love: 3 Stories by Chekhov

book cover of Too Much Happiness

Lastly, the most recent work of short fiction I've read comes from our very own soil. Alice Munro, who has been cited as Canada’s own Chekhov, writes what I would call psychological fiction. Like Chekhov, her stories focus on the inner lives of the characters, where moments of revelation, emotion and changes of perspective make up the core of her fiction. As well, what I love most about Munro’s stories are the complex female characters she writes about.

In her book, Too Much Happiness, a story called "Dimensions" had me conflicted about the main character, Doree, a teenage mother who is grappling with a personal tragedy inflicted on her by her abusive husband. I found the character infuriating for the choices she made, but always empathetic. A multitude of writers have gushed over Alice Munro's effortless writing, a quality that I too admire in her work.

Short stories can be deceptively simple because of their short length, but from my experience, even the shortest work can be the most satisfying. Another plus is they can be easily finished in a short period, such as during a coffee break, and their format makes them perfect to be read on an E-reader or tablet.

What's more, most short stories fall into the category of literary fiction, which may be why some people see them as too high-brow to enjoy, but reading short fiction by authors such as Chekhov and Munro do offer their benefits. A recent article in the New York Times talks about how reading literary fiction can help with social skills and emotional intelligence.

The Calgary Public Library can help you explore the world of short fiction with the Poetry & Short Story Reference Center, a new resource available in the E-Library.

FRESH! Local Talent

by Stephen - 0 Comment(s)

The Calgary Public Library’s collection includes many books written by talented authors right here in Alberta. Here are two titles in our collection which I’ve recently enjoyed:

Bonfire: the Chestnut Gentleman

Bonfire: The Chestnut Gentleman by Susan Raby-Dunne

Told from the perspective of his horse Bonfire, this is the story of Canadian poet John McCrae’s experiences during World War I which ultimately led to the writing of the famous poem In Flanders Fields. Bonfire provides an accurate account of the conditions which faced both soldiers and the animals that served alongside them in the battlefields of Europe from 1914-1918. Amidst the chaos and destruction of the conflict an unbreakable friendship is formed between McCrae and his war horse which would last until the very end.

Great for those interested in history, horses or both, this well-researched offering from local author Raby-Dunne is well worth the read.

Rose’s Move by Graham McComiskey

Definitely one I’d pick for story-time with the kids, Rose’s Move tells the story of Rose, a flower who has grown too big for her bed and must make the transition to a new home. Told by McComiskey with charming style, Rose’s move is a great way to introduce young children to the concept of change and new experiences in their lives.

Complete with beautiful illustrations by Janice Blaine, (also local!) Rose’s Move is a wonderful choice to share with the whole family.

Fresh! Deadly Debuts

by Pam - 0 Comment(s)

I enjoy reading suspense filled fiction full of unusual characters. The twists and turns of new offbeat novels by Jamie Mason and Gregory Gibson kept me engaged until the last page.

Cover Three Graves FullIn "Three Graves Full", the delicious debut by Jamie Mason, you'll find a skillfull page turning thiller replete with delightfully quirky characters including two savvy detectives, a nosey surviving girlfriend and one stupendously intelligent dog. When quiet and unassuming Jason Getty decides to hire landscapers to tame his front yard it isn't long until they discover two bodies buried there. And neither one is the body that Jason knows is buried in the backyard. Jason is now petrified that his dark secret will beCover Old Turk revealed and his world quickly unwinds as he desperately tries to stay ahead of the game.

If remarkable characters appeal to you, then try Gregory Gibson's soon to be released novel "The Old Turk's Load". Set against the backdrop of the 1967 Newark riots,the lives of the shady real estate developer Richard Mundi, crime lord Angelo DiNoto, his socially activist daughter Gloria, and drug ridden cancer survivor Mailman collide in a crime spree of heroin and stolen art. It's up to private investigator "Walkaway" Kelly to discover the truth behind Gloria's revolutionary activities, but he is soon distracted by what appears to be the murder of Gloria's mother. It all cumulates in an unforgettable showdown over the Old Turk's Load.

To find these and other great new books check out Calgary Public Library's catalogue.

Quick Tip: Did you know that you can put holds on books before Calgary Public Library has them in stock? As soon as the book is ordered we create a record for it. Once you see the record in our catalogue, go ahead and place your hold!

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