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Kelley Armstrong is visiting CPL!

by Carrie - 0 Comment(s)

kelley armstrong

Next Wednesday, November 6th is your chance to meet bestselling Canadian author Kelley Armstrong! She will be visiting Shawnessy Library at 12 pm, and will be on the main floor of the Central Library at 7pm for a reading and book signing.

Even as a child, Kelley loved to write about creepy things - in her own words, "If asked for a story about girls and dolls, mine would invariably feature undead girls and evil dolls, much to my teachers’ dismay. All efforts to make me produce “normal” stories failed. Today, I continue to spin tales of ghosts and demons and werewolves, while safely locked away in my basement writing dungeon."

Kelley is the author of the Darkest Powers series for teens, the Otherworld series for adults, and quite a few other titles, all of them featuring characters you'll wish you knew - but might be glad are at a safe distance.

spellcasters the rising omens loki's wolves werewolves

Carrie & Other Scary Movie Favourites

by Kim - 1 Comment(s)

Everyone’s favourite supernatural misfit prom queen is back! The brand new remake of Carrie, the frightening 1976 film about a tormented, telekinetic teenager is sure to be a scary thriller hit this fall. Centred around the daughter of a domineering, ultra-religious and mean old mum, this remake is sure to be the scary thriller hit for fall. The film is based on the original book by Stephen King. Written when he was living in a trailer, Carrie was his first published novel and helped make him a household name in horror. In the spirit of the season of All Hallow’s Read, get ready for homecoming by getting a hold of Carrie here!

Trivia: Some of Carrie derived from Stephen King's own experiences as a teacher. The name of the high school is Bates High, a reference to Norman Bates from another horror classic, Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho!

A lot of great horror movies are based on even scarier books. One of our favourites is the original Bram Stoker's Dracula, which has been adapted for film over a dozen times (take that, Twilight!). And, All Hallow's read would not be complete without paying homage to the event's creator: Neil Gaiman's original Coraline is every bit as much creepy as the movie - maybe even a little bit creepier.

It's not too late to enter our All Hallow's Read giveaway - read this post and leave your contact info in the comments to win two scary books: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake. The draw is October 25th so enter now!

Fall into Graphics - Bleak Bizarre & Beautiful continued...

by Adrienne - 0 Comment(s)

For the purposes of this post let's expand "Graphic Novels" to include books that have Great Graphics in them, and are a cabinet of curiosities in and of themselves! Admittedly, these are not technically graphic novels, but are still well worth it!

Let's start with The Curiosities, a collection of stories compiled for the most part from a blog started by 3 YA all-stars: Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton & Brenna Yovanoff. Its purpose is to challenge the authors with weekly writing exercises outside of their current novels in progress; this great collection of short stories includes many drawings and, fun, hand-written notes by fellow authors commenting (often sarcastically), on the writing of their peers.

Highlights include..... A diagram of Brenna's brain, 5 signs of a Maggie story (angst, cars, sarcasm, kissing, geniuses), drawings of each of their respective work spaces; (Yovanoff's includes just a ghost, a chair and, a monster coffee mug...), and comparative charts of their average story lengths (Tessa's being a ladder to the sky that never ends); complete with snide comments on the side. ;0)-

And if you're squeamish... this book is not quite as creepy as the original Cabinet of Curiosities. Trust me...

Venturing into fairyland; Wish by Beth Bracken & Kay Fraser includes sumptuously illustrated pages in full colour making you feel like you are reading through someone's fancy fairy journal.

Once Upon a Time in the North by Philip Pullman, features black & white engravings by master carver John Lawrence, as well as photos of newspaper clippings and bills giving it an old time, 1800's, steampunky feel. This short book gives you some unknown background into the characters featured in Pullman's His Dark Materials Series (The Golden Compass).

Unnatural Creatures is a great new book of short stories out by Neil Gaiman dealing with curious creatures such as griffins, sunbirds and werewolves. Titles include such curiosities such as "The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees" & "Ozioma The Wicked".

And speaking of Mr. Gaiman... Guess who's coming to town on February 24th to speak for the Calgary Distinguished Writer's Program?..??? for FREE! Yes, that's right folks - get your (Free!) tickets on-line on October 24th at 12 noon sharp to make sure you don't miss out!

Mr. Gaiman recently presented a speech about the importance of imagination and science fiction to our culture. Check it out here! And remember to enter our All Hallow's Read contest for a chance to win one of his books, plus another scary title to give away.

Based on the acclaimed animated film Amaqqut nunaat = The Country of Wolves is a centuries old Inuit folktale that is beautifully retold by Neil Christopher and hauntingly illustrated by Ramon Perez.

Being so close to Halloween I would feel somewhat amiss if I failed to mention that we also have 2 brand NEW Graphic novels versions of two of Edgar Allen Poe's classics; The Pit and The Pendulum, & The Tell-Tale Heart . Happy Hallowed Reading!

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All Hallow's Read Giveaway

by Carrie - 0 Comment(s)

all hallow

It's time for one of my favourite new traditions - All Hallow's Read!

This marvelous event started when author extraordinaire Neil Gaiman decided that there just aren't enough traditions that involve giving people books. To rectify this oversight, he invented his own, reasoning that Halloween would be an excellent time to give someone you love a terrifying tale. That's all there is to it - just pick a book, whether spooky, creepy, or downright frightening, and give it to a friend or family member for Halloween.

Great idea, right?

To help you get in the spirit, we have six sets of scary stories to give away - one to keep for yourself, and one to give to a friend. Just tell us your name, phone number, and closest library branch in the comments (we won't publish your personal info), or send an email to teenservices@calgarypubliclibrary.com. We'll pick the winners on October 25th (so you can have the books in hand for Halloween).

Meanwhile, make this mini-book of Edgar Allen Poe's haunting poem The Raven to hand out to trick-or-treaters (you decide if it's a trick or a treat), read one of our recommendations, or tell us what frightening book you would give a loved one in the comments below.

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Gene Luen Yang: Interview & Giveaway, Part Two

by Carrie - 0 Comment(s)

boxers & saintsThis is the second part of our interview with Gene Luen Yang - be sure to read Part One.

We're giving away two sets of Boxers & Saints! Just leave your name & contact info in the comments by October 14th to be entered in the draw (we won't publish personal information), or email teenservices@calgarypubliclibrary.com.

Gene Luen Yang is a Chinese-American graphic novelist whose books deal with themes of identity, belonging, and cultural expectations, and often use humour to deal with dark subjects and themes. He has won the Printz award and multiple Eisner awards, and if that's not reason enough to read his work, you also have my personal recommendation - it's great! Pick up American Born Chinese, The Eternal Smile, Prime Baby, Level Up, or Animal Crackers, then read this interview and his newest work, a two-part story called Boxers & Saints.

Q: You have drawn your own work and also worked with other great artists like Derek Kirk Kim and Thien Pham – what kind of process do you go through when writing a graphic novel on your own, and how does that change with a collaborative effort?

A: When you write and draw your own book, you’re in full control. Every line of dialog and every line of drawing comes from you. There’s something very satisfying about that.

When you work with someone else, you lose some of that control, but hopefully you’re trading that control for something more. My drawing style is pretty limited. I’m not that great of an illustrator. There are certain stories in my head that I simply wouldn’t be able to draw adequately. By working with another cartoonist, those stories get expressed more successfully.

Both Derek and Thien have brilliant, unique storytelling voices. They both do write and draw comics on their own. I learned a ton by working with them.

All that said, even the books that I do “on my own” are collaborations. Lark Pien colored both American Born Chinese and Boxers & Saints. Her colors are an important part of the storytelling. I also got editorial input on both projects. I worked with designers at First Second, Danica Novgorodoff and Colleen AF Venable, to put the books together.

Q: As a librarian I sometimes have to defend graphic novels, usually to parents who think they aren’t “real” books; do you ever encounter that attitude, and how do you answer that criticism?

A: Yes, I’ve encountered that. My own parents thought like that when I was a kid. That attitude seems less and less prevalent these days. Parents seem to worry more about YouTube and the X-Box now.

I can understand where they’re coming from. I love prose too. I don’t want the prose novel to go away.

Words and pictures are often seen as competing forces, but it doesn’t have to be like that. One doesn’t have to lose for the other to win. Paul Levitz, former head guy at DC Comics, once told me about a study that found American comic book readers read six more prose novels per year than the average American. Comic book readers are readers, period. When you love one kind of book, you tend to love all kinds of books. Comics can support prose, and vice versa.

Q: Your books often deal with themes of identity, belonging, and cultural expectations, whether it’s fitting in as a minority (American Born Chinese), dealing with loneliness (Prime Baby), or balancing the lives we want with the lives our parents want for us (Level Up). Of course these issues are all very relevant to a YA audience – did you set out to write for teens, or did the stories you write just naturally fall there?

A: I started in the world of independent comics, which is very different from the book market. It’s changing now, but when I first started, people in comics didn’t think about age demographics all that much. I just tried to make comics that I would want to read.

After signing on with First Second Books, my comics were placed in the Young Adult category. I think I belong here. It feels right. I taught high school for a number of years. This seems to be the audience I most easily connect with.

Q: Apart from your own work, what books or authors would you recommend to a YA reader?

A: I mentioned Derek Kirk Kim already. He and Les McClaine are doing this great series called Tune. It’s sci-fi meets rom-com meets prison drama. It’s hysterically funny, but it’s also an insightful examination of the loneliness of the creative life.

For slightly younger readers, I’d recommend Ben Hatke’s Zita the Spacegirl series. Gorgeous cartooning.

I recently read The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson. I really enjoyed it. I especially connected with it because I’m a cartoonist. I mean, chalk drawings that come to life, that can actually fight like Pokemon! What’s not to love?

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Gene Luen Yang: Interview & Giveaway, Part One

by Carrie - 0 Comment(s)

We're giving away two sets of Boxers & Saints! Just leave your name & contact info in the comments by October 14th to be entered in the draw (we won't publish personal information), or email teenservices@calgarypubliclibrary.com.

boxers

Gene Luen Yang is a Chinese-American graphic novelist whose books deal with themes of identity, belonging, and cultural expectations, and often use humour to deal with dark subjects and themes. He has won the Printz award and multiple Eisner awards, and if that's not reason enough to read his work, you also have my personal recommendation - it's great! Pick up American Born Chinese, The Eternal Smile, Prime Baby, Level Up, or Animal Crackers, then read this interview and his newest work, a two-part story called Boxers & Saints.

Q: We’re so excited about your latest project, Boxers & Saints – could you tell us a little about what inspired it?

A: I first became interested in the Boxer Rebellion in 2000, when Pope John Paul II canonized 120 Chinese saints. I grew up in a Chinese American Catholic community in the San Francisco Bay Area. Naturally, my home church was incredibly excited by the announcement. When I looked into the lives of these new saints, I discovered that many of them had been martyred during the Boxer Rebellion.

The more I looked into the Boxer Rebellion, the more fascinated I became. The war externalizes a conflict that I think many Asian Christians and Christians of Asian descent feel – a conflict between Eastern culture and Western religion.

Q: Boxers & Saints tells the story of the Boxer Rebellion from two opposing viewpoints; why did you choose to publish it as a two-volume set, instead of in one combined volume?saints

A: One of the reasons I was attracted to the Boxer Rebellion in the first place was that I felt so ambivalent about it. Who were the good guys and who were the bad guys? I couldn’t decide, so I wrote and drew two books from two opposing viewpoints.

Separating the two stories into two physically distinct books forced me to think through each as a complete narrative with a beginning, middle, and end. I hope that each volume can stand on its own. I also hope readers who choose to read both will get something out of the dialog between the two.

Q: As a Catholic yourself, was it difficult to write from the point of view of someone trying to drive out the “foreign devils”, and the "secondary devils" who were Chinese Christians?

A: The “foreign devils” were the European missionaries, merchants, and soldiers. Chinese Christians were considered the “secondary devils”, folks who had succumbed to the foreign devils’ lies.

As I’ve said, my primary reaction to the Boxer Rebellion is ambivalence. I can see myself on either side of the conflict. I sympathize with both the Boxers and their Chinese Christian opponents. I think they had similar motivations. Both sides wanted to keep their identities intact. The Boxers were angry at the way the foreign powers tore down traditional Chinese culture. The Christians died because they wanted to remain true to the identities they’d built for themselves, identities that drew from both Eastern and Western influences.

Q: You have talked on your blog about the similarities between Chinese opera for the boxers and our own modern day pop culture (I adored your Chinese Opera Avengers – in fact, your Thor is my desktop background right now!), and how those inspirations – whether gods or superheroes – can be a source of strength. Can you tell us a bit more about this idea?

A: The Boxers were poor, starving Chinese teenagers, mostly boys, who were deeply embarrassed by the European incursions onto Chinese soil. To deal with this sense of powerlessness in their lives, they did what today’s teenagers do: They looked to the pop culture that surrounded them for empowerment.

Back then, there were these traveling acting troupes that went from village to village performing snippets of classical Chinese opera. Opera was the Boxers’ pop culture. It was their television, their movies, their comic books. Like American superheroes, the gods of the opera wore colorful costumes, had magic powers, and fought otherworldly battles.

Like modern day cosplayers, these teenagers wanted to become their heroes. They came up with this mystical ritual that they believed would call the gods down from the heavens. The gods would grant them superpowers. Then armed with these superpowers, the Boxers ran through the countryside fighting European soldiers, missionaries, and Chinese Christians.

Stories help us make sense of our lives. They let one generation to communicate with the next. They give us examples to either follow or shun.

Stay tuned for Part Two of this interview early next week!

american born chineseeternal smileprime babylevel upanimal crackers