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Great Graphix for 2014—Bleak, Bizarre and Beautiful continued

by Adrienne - 0 Comment(s)

It may be a bit early to think of this year's Comic Con coming up in April however Camilla d'Errico's 2nd volume of Tanpopo is just hitting the stacks sooo... I thought it might be appropriate to highlight some great new and old additions to the fabulous Teen Graphix collection we have. Tanpopo is a 3 volume story of a girl raised by a machine-driven mind prison, who frees herself and goes on a journey of emotional and intellectual self discovery guided by a "boy" who is either a devil or trickster character or both. D'Erricco uses text from Goethe's "Faust"(and it is a Faustian journey that Tanpopo embarks on!!), Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" and Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio by Liaozhai Zhiyi.

Goethe started writing Faust when he was 19 and finished it a week before his death - how's that for the work of your life? Camilla uses the text and re-contextualizes it to create her own poetic story, complete with her sparse but beautiful comic illustrations all rendered with a fine point acrylic brush. Hailing from Vancouver d'Erricco has also published a YA graphic novel called Burn and several books of her art. One of which I just happened to get hand autographed with a drawing of her own when I met her at last year's Comic Con. (I'm sure she'll do the same for you if you go this year, nudge, nudge), she is, generous like that, and cool; hence me being so excited about her latest release. Did I mention that she snowboards and makes her art into designs for cell phone skins, laptops, snowboards, dresses, leggings, chairs, wallets, make-up cases and toys for the likes of Haysbor, Disney, Tokyopop, Neil Gaiman and the ilk. Her HelmetHeads paintings have a sweet pop sensibility to them. She's even published a book about how to emulate the same in your own comics. This could perhaps... hint, hint... be used as an inspiration to submit a comic of your own to our TeensCreate page, just sayin'....

Speaking of literary pop sensibilities; did you know that Frank L. Baum actually wrote not just 1 but 11 OZ novels? And not all starting in Kansas... Eric Shanower and artist Skottie Young have turned them into a series of great graphic novels for your eyes to enjoy. I think perhaps in an alternate universe D'Erricco's Tanpopo and Skottie Young's Dorothy and Ozma could all be sisters. The wonders of OZ never cease ;p

To conclude our brief but delectable journey, a great version of Faust has just been republished and acquired here at CPL. The illustrations by Harry Clarke hail from the Art Nouveau era (think Aubrey Beardsley) creating a visual feast that rivals the Steampunky details of d'Errico's HelmetHeads. So if you like Tanpopo you just might enjoy. Happy Reading!

 

Don't Blink — Read!

by Tomas - 4 Comment(s)

neil gaimanIf you’re a Whovian, I don’t have to explain the significance of November 23rd. To those not yet initiated, this date marks the premiere of the 50th Anniversary special episode: The Day of the Doctor. If you're new to the phenomenon of Doctor Who, long-time fan Neil Gaiman recently shared a succinct synopsis of the show so you can dive right in:

“No, look, there’s a blue box. It’s bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. It can go anywhere in time and space and sometimes even where it’s meant to go. And when it turns up, there’s a bloke in it called The Doctor and there will be stuff wrong and he will do his best to sort it out and he will probably succeed ’cause he’s awesome. Now sit down, shut up, and watch ‘Blink’.”

In another post, Gaiman expands on his thoughts on the literary quality of the series:

“Doctor Who has never pretended to be hard science-fiction. At best, Doctor Who is a fairytale, with fairytale logic, about this wonderful man in this big blue box, who at the beginning of every story lands somewhere there’s a problem.”

The appeal to Doctor Who naturally extends to lovers of fiction (writers and readers). From a wardrobe that is bigger on the inside, to the wibbly wobbly act of Tessering, many books offer similar mind, space and time-bending experiences.

Over the years, a number of celebrated authors have contributed stories—in both television and book form—including Douglas Adams, Jenny Colgan and Neil Gaiman.

nenshiFans of the series also include our recently re-elected mayor Nahed Nenshi. In our centennial publication, His Worship wrote how he devoured every copy of the Doctor Who novels he could get his hands on.

“One of the things I really loved were science fiction novels and in particular I was a fan, and have been for a long time, of the British science fiction show Dr. Who,” ...

“There must be hundreds of Dr. Who paperbacks and I would always be awaiting them. I would always know which ones the Forest Lawn library had and which ones I had read.

“Whatever was there I would grab so I would read them wildly out of sequence which was ok because they were self-contained stories.”

In anticipation of the 50th Anniversary episode, Penguin Books commissioned 11 writers to come up with short stories. These were published monthly as e-books, one for each for one generation of the Doctor. So far these are only available as ebooks for sale, but hopefully will be added to our collection soon. In the meantime, you can check out the links below for samples of each writer’s story, courtesy of The Guardian, as well as interviews where they speak about their inspiration and enthusiasm for their particular Doctor:

 

Eoin Colfer - A Big Hand For The Doctordoctor who

Michael Scott - The Nameless City

Marcus Sedgwick - The Spear of Destiny

Philip Reeve - The Roots of Evil

Patrick Ness - Tip of the Tongue

Richelle Mead - Something Borrowed

Malorie Blackman - Ripple Effect

Charlie Higson - The Beast of Babylon

Derek Landy - The Mystery of the Haunted Cottage

Neil Gaiman - Nothing O'Clock

 


If the thrilling prospects of time and space exploration leave you wanting more, check out these other great reads.

A Monster Calls mister monday hitch-hikers guide hourglass wrinkle in time garden of iden

Steampunk H.G. Wells, Wollstonecraft and Poe? Yes please!

by Adrienne - 0 Comment(s)

Not had enough of things that creep in the dark post-Halloween? Ready to start designing next year's costume? Zdenko Basic's New Steampunk Series puts the ghostliness into the steam. It includes Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds, and Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven, amongst others.

Each book features a SHORT insightful introduction which gives some interesting tidbits about each author's life as well as some historical context. Lushly illustrated with which creep their mood from mechanical to ghostly to gory, there's plenty here to fuel the steam engine of your imagination. Especially if you are a Steampunk fan. And if you've never heard of Steampunk before but like horror and gore this might just turn your crank enough to start dreaming of making Next year's Halloween costume involve gears, lace and, rivets.

I'm sure you can imagine and design your own steampunk characters or dress up your favourite YA Hero/Heroine. What would a Steampunk Katniss or Harry wear???

Soooooo... design a costume and photograph yourself or draw your favourite YA character Steampunk style and submit these to our TeensCreate page! These books may help: Steampunk Fashion & How To Draw Steampunk. For further inspiration check out CPL's great and growing Steampunk Collection. Then continue the adventure by reading Kady Cross's Steampunk Chronicle's trilogy starting with The Girl in The Steel Corset, (which includes many descriptions of awesome Steampunk outfits...) and finish with Legacy of the Clockwork Key by Kristin Bailey. May your engines be well oiled!

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!

nevermore

The Fresh Prince of B612

by Tomas - 0 Comment(s)

The Little PrinceThe new little prince

Recently I found out about a new version of The Little Prince, the classic story by Antoine De Saint-Exupéry.The Little Prince: The New Adventures is a graphic novel series which, it is prominently stressed in the promotions, is approved by the Estate of Saint-Exupéry and is in the spirit of the original. A new cartoon has also been produced, currently playing at Calaway Park in their new Cinemagic 3D feature. Both have been developed with the noble goal of bringing this classic character into the 21st Century.

I have to admit, I don't know how I feel about this. No, actually, I DO know that how I feel -strongly- is that this is all kinds of wrong. I've already had part of my childhood ruined by the Star Wars prequels (help me J.J. Abrams, you're my only hope!), and Michael Bay's take on Transformers, so admittedly I'm a little sensitive on the topic... I thought if there was one unassailable territory of my childhood it would be guarded by The Little Prince.

In the new adventures, the Prince and his plucky sidekick, Fox (really?) go from planet to planet, stopping the base villian Snake and his gang of Gloomies (REALLY!?!?) as they hatch all sorts of dastardly plots. I take issue mainly with the complexity of the characters being reduced to simplistic attributes of either 'good' or 'evil'. Snake being cast as a villian fundamentally changes one of the most complicated and pivotal scenes of the original book, and I'm distressed that anyone who reads it after the new adventures will miss out on debating the motivations and the outcomes of the snake's actions.

But maybe I'm just not thinking about this in the right light... After all, it is introducing the character to a new audience, one that then may come across the original. As Moe has written in another blog, classic stories are regularly revisited and brought up to date for new audiences, sometimes quite well. Putting aside the original source material for a moment, the stories of the new series are actually not that bad, although a bit repetitive, and the artwork is delightful.

So what do you think? Should I just calm down and be more open to this attempt at taking this story into an exciting new direction, or do you think this is a poorly considered capitalization on the original story? Let me know about other revisions of classic stories that have or haven't worked for you.

The Little Princenew little prince 2

The Fault in OUR Stars

by Alexandra - 0 Comment(s)

The other day I was flipping through the upcoming flicks on IMDb and checking out some of the big YA titles that have been on my watchlist: “What’s the latest with the new Percy Jackson? The buzz on “Mortal Instruments”? Oh look they’re making a 1D Concert Tour Movie…” when I stumbled across a project that is still ages away, but very near to my heart.

It BLOWS MY MIND that each and every single one of John Green’s books hasn’t been made into a movie yet. They are all brilliant, and they would all translate well to film. And since making YA books into movies is like, soooooo hot right now, it really does confuse me! At any rate, at least ONE of his titles has been optioned -- the beautiful, tragic, hilarious, “The Fault in Our Stars” (which, if you haven’t read yet… stop reading THIS and go pick up THAT!!!)

So I’m trolling around IMDb when I see the cast list for TFIOS… and immediately fangirl out and start squee-ing with the revelation of each new actor cast! I call over a couple of co-workers and we’re all freaking out. “Of COURSE they cast Chloe Grace-Moretz as Hazel, she’s in everything right now…” “Omigod, they got PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN to play Van Houten?!?!?!?!?” “Oooooh Jessica Chastain would TOTALLY make a good Lidewij…” and EVERY character that comes up, from Augustus, to his parents, to the best friends, is just bang-on PERFECT. And we’re all sitting there marveling at how superb this movie is going to be, when someone looks just a little bit closer at the list and realizes…

We’ve been looking at a fan-made Dream Cast the whole time.

We just got IMDb’d. Hard.

Turns out, they haven’t really even STARTED casting the movie yet. Shailene Woodley got Hazel-Grace, and some kid named Ansel Elgort is going to be Augustus… but there’s no one outside of that.

So here’s my question: Have you ever ‘been had’ by an IMDb fan cast, thinking it was official? And… If you could Dream Cast “The Fault in the Stars”, who would you put in there!?!?!

Explore other dimensions of your favorite Sci-Fi characters

by Tomas - 1 Comment(s)

Dr. Who reading

Fiction has always been a vital part of the Sci-Fi equation, and literature regularly figures into the plots of classic and contemporary TV series. Think of Mark Twain's visits to the Star Trek Universe, Data's obsession with Sherlock Holmes, or The Doctor's interest in pulp fiction (no spoilers here, check out the Angels Take Manhattan finale in the 7th season... coming to the library soon!).

Nathan Fillion - Kids Need to ReadSome of the crossovers aren't as conventional, and extend into the lives of the actors themselves. Looking at the line up for the upcoming 2013 Comic Expo, I came across an interesting tidbit about Nathan "Mal" Fillion. In addition to his work on Firefly, and later shows like Castle and Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, this former Edmontonian is co-founder of Kids Need to Read, a non-profit organization which aspires to provide underfunded libraries with more books!

Another Expo guest, comic legend Stan Lee, recently formed the Stan Lee Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting literacy, cultural awareness and artistic diversity throughout the arts (as if his 50+ years of output through Marvel Comics didn't already provide enough encouragement...)

Across the pond, the BBC has launched a series of storytelling segments by some of the U.K.'s biggest celebrities, including -naturally - cast members from Dr. Who, such as John Barrowman (also a guest of the Expo). Come on, who hasn't wanted a bedtime story told by The Master, or Captain Jack (???)

Geordi and DataAnd then, there's Levar Burton: As a long time fan of his run on Reading Rainbow, as well as his turn as Chief Engineer Geordi Laforge on Star Trek: TNG, nothing could prepare my 15 year-old self for the mind bending moment when the two shows / universes paradoxically combined in one glorious episode!

Mind bending in an entirely different way is Leonard Nimoy's, ah, unique rendition of Tolkien's The Hobbit. Much more concise than Peter Jackson's take, but just as exhilarating an experience!

Autobiography of a Graphic Novel

by Adrienne - 0 Comment(s)

What is the next generation of Graphic Novels? In addition to Manga and Anime, beautiful art novels, true life to high school tales, classic remakes, & your standard super hero sagas, I have noticed a fair number of interesting biographies gracing the stacks lately.

Steve Jobs died last year and shortly afterwards (in addition to the proliferation of blog posts, newspaper articles, and books), a graphic novel biography of his life: Steve Jobs : genius by design, appeared on our shelves.

The Dalai Lama visited Calgary at the Saddledome two years ago, providing a unique contrast to my experience of this concert space (I went to a John Mayer concert there shortly afterwards). There are films and books about his life in addition to his own books, and now... a graphic novel version, in Manga no less! Check out The 14th Dalai Lama : a manga biography.

You might be aware of the Famous Five because of the statue gracing Olympic plaza, but did you know that Nellie McClung was Calgarian and you can visit her house as a historic site, at 803 - 15 Avenue SW? (No I'm not a history expert...I used to live just down the block so that's how I know.); and now... there's a graphic novel version of her life! Hyena in petticoats : the story of suffragette Nellie McClung

Speaking of Calgarians, local author James Davidge has written and published a graphic novel rendition of local Ranch legend John Ware "The Duchess Ranch of Old John Ware", full of subtle poetics and beautiful illustrations by Bob Prodor. I had the pleasure of attending James Davidge's most recent book release at Shelf Life books just this fall...

See a trend? Well Houdini breaks it... sort of, he was always good at breaking out of boxes, that is as Houdini : the handcuff king. We do have a great graphic novel version of his life, however I have no personal anecdote to embellish it with, just a high level of endorsement for the fascination he inspires...


In terms of actual autobiographies, there are some great ones I would recommend about high school kids telling their own stories; Persepolis, Escape from "Special", and A Game for Swallows.

And for fans, yes we do have Stephenie Meyer and Justin Bieber biographies... in graphic novel form. So go ahead, have some fun, be inspired and brush up on your people's history!

Finding My Way Eyre

by Adrienne - 0 Comment(s)

I admit that when I first saw Jane it was the cover that initially caught my attention, and that this was the first "Jane Eyre" book I ever read. Not that my friends had not been recommending the book ever since, oh - Grade 9! They did, I just... never got around to it. So when this beautiful moody cover caught my eye, I decided to make a go of it. This retelling by April Lindner, is set in NY with an art school dropout who becomes a nanny and falls for... a famous rock star. I was not disappointed. The book is great! Emma the BookAngel has even made a soundtrack for the book! Hot on its heels, I was putting holds on Catherine, Lindner's remake of Wuthering Heights. Also set in modern NY, this time with the daughter of the owner of a very famous night club as ‘Catherine’!

Then, it just so happened that the graphic novel remake of Jane Eyre landed in my lap. So I read that next, super curious to compare Jane to its original without delay. From my experiences with Manga Shakespeare I knew that reading the graphic novel is a great way to introduce oneself to a classic right away. No fuss, no problem, no big time commitment and no trouble understanding what's going on. I highly recommend it for all your Shakespeare assignments - plus any other classics you are asked to read for English class. Not because the originals aren't great, but rather because they ARE. It's great to have something on hand that can clarify what is going on, allowing you to focus on appreciating the book rather than struggling through it.

So finally yes, I actually read Jane Eyre after all these years. First off, for all the fashionistas out there I want to mention that the version that I read was a Couture edition by Penguin Classics - with cover and images designed by fashion designer Ruben Toledo = perfectly moody graphics!

Classics are classics for a reason and are generally good ground for expounding upon; they become a post-modernist's delightful playground (think Mash-Ups). I admit however that some classics are so stuffy that it's almost impossible to penetrate through their dense or obscure language and receive their enlightening rays of nectar and fruits of insight. Jane Eyre is, refreshingly, not, especially if read with a poetic eye and a philosopher's heart. There were words I was unfamiliar with but I found this antipathetically refreshing - welcome nectar to a vocabulary that has been thirsting for expansion. One learns to write by reading. One gleans semi-archaic vocabulary by reading semi-archaic tomes. (ha,ha).

Jane Eyre is moody and romantic. It arouses a passion of spirit, a storminess of temperament which, like the novel itself, is quite satisfying in its quietude. Jane herself is like that calm before the storm... Mr. Rochester the storm... Jane again, like the rain that pours down quenching your thirst with the ether of sweet negative electricity that bathes the air after lightning.

Jane Eyre contains phrases such as, "Her soul sat on her lips and language flowed", and thoughts such as "Then, my sole relief was to walk along the corridor of the third storey, backwards, and forwards, safe in the silence and solitude of the spot, and allow my mind's eye to dwell on whatever bright visions rose before it... to open my inward ear to a tale that never ended - a tale my imagination created, and narrated continuously; quickened with all of incident, life, fire, feeling, that I desired and had not in my actual existence." Jane is a formidable character. At the end of the book I found myself wishing I had read it when I was in Grade 9! Through tumultuous and harrowing experiences she has such a sense of her own self worth, and is so grounded; it would have been welcome food back then. I'll warn you though, that the book is a bit preachy in the last few pages. That said, the rest of the books is so fabulous that's it's worth that little bit at the end. I encourage you to read and enjoy!

Other Eyre remakes to check out include Jane Airhead, A Breath of Eyre, and Wish you Were Eyre. For more advanced adult books, check out Mrs. Rochester, Death of a Schoolgirl, Jane Slayre, and Adele : Jane Eyre's hidden story - a highly interesting remake of Jane Eyre told from Mr. Rochester's ward's perspective.

If you want to find out more about the life of the author (Charlotte Bronte), I recommend the following books as well: Becoming Jane Eyre, Jane Eyre: Portrait of a Life, & Governess: The lives and Times of The Real Jane Eyres. There are also a bunch of renditions of Jane Eyre on DVD to check out. (I've heard the 1986 version is great.) Comments and feedback on your favourite are welcome!

The Hobbit

by Monique - 0 Comment(s)

How many of you are as excited about upcoming The Hobbit movie? December 14 can’t seem to come fast enough for me. Having said that, I will need to re-read the novel as it seems like it was such a long time ago since I originally read it. Don’t get me wrong, I do remember what the novel is about, but would love to refresh my memory of its details. I don’t know about any of you, but when it comes to the adaptation of books into movies, I tend to like the book better. The odd time, I have found myself enjoying the movie adaptation of a novel as well; The Lord of the Rings Trilogy being one of those rare occasions.

When I was initially talking to people about the movie, I was surprised to hear that the movie was going to be in two parts, but in doing some digging, I have learned that it will be actually in three parts. I find this news to be exciting. I have to question however, why a novel that is shorter than each The Lord of the Rings (LOR) have been done if they were done in two parts, right? The first part of the three part series will be called The Hobbit : An Unexpected Journey is set to release on December 14 of this year. The second movie, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, will be released around December 13, 2013. The third movie, will have the same title as the novel, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, with news that it will be released on July 18, 2014. I am glad that Peter Jackson is directing The Hobbit, as it will be nice to see a continuation of his work on a book that is part of The Lord of the Ring series.

Don’t get me wrong, I realize that you don’t need to read The Hobbit in order to get the idea of The Lord of the Rings and vice versa, but having read The Hobbit first, does help lay the ground work for The Lord of the Rings. I am also excited to see that a lot of the cast from LOR will be returning to play the characters that they had originally portrayed. Looking at some of the trailers online, I can't wait for the movie to come out in theatres!

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