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by Alexandra - 0 Comment(s)

pages staffYou always knew your Calgary Public Library card got you wicked stuff IN the library (free books, free programs, free homework help, free music, free space...) but just the other day we found out about an awesome deal your card will get you OUTSIDE the library too!

Pages on Kensington offers a 10% discount off books to any teen who shows their Library Card at time of purchase! That's ANY book, with ANY CPL Teen Library Card! We understand that sometimes you just can't wait for 400 people to finish reading the hottest title before you get your hands on it, or that sometimes you love a book so much you just HAVE to have your own copy... when those times hit, head over to Pages!

And if you're confused about the part where we said "ANY Teen Library Card", that's probably because you didn't know we now offer several different styles of cards, not to mention the chance to customize your own from photos or artwork (for a pretty penny, but could you ASK for a better cause?)! The best deal in town just got even better!

 

 

 

The boys from Pages love their ya lit!


Cram Your Summer Reading In Now

by Alexandra - 0 Comment(s)

Photo Credit: http://www.etsy.com/listing/35063991/books-printI love books. I love ALL books. I love ancient books and new books and bad books and blue books. I love classics, adaptations, translations, blatant rip-offs, movie novelizations, and sometimes even pure, awful, fan-fic-y drivel.

There is nothing I love more than getting my hands on a book I've never read before...

But no, wait... that's a lie. Because there IS something I love more than a new book.

An OLD book. A book that I've already loved. A lot. And I don't mean like... "I read that book ages ago and can't remember the plot, I should read it again". I mean like "I-have-read-this-book-so-many-times-the-words-come-easier-to-me-than-breathing". Like "I-am-reading-the-words-in-my-minds-eye-before-my-real-eye-even-gets-to-them-on-the-page". Like "Move over, J.K. Rowling, I've got this ish on lock!"

And yes, as you can imagine, there are some pretty touchy-feely reasons for doing it. Every July 1st (since 1998) I have sat down to the comforting words “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much” and this wave of pure nostalgic happiness washes over me… like getting a massive bear hug from an old friend (the twirly kind where your legs dangle in the air) and it’s just… bliss. And it’s true, I DO find something new that I’ve never noticed before each time I read an old favourite. For example, this past July when I read that “the Weasley twins were punished for bewitching several snowballs so that they followed Quirrell around, bouncing off the back of his turban”, what I realized for the first time ever was that Fred and George WERE THROWING SNOWBALLS AT VOLDEMORT’S FACE and it’s a miracle that they weren’t Avada Kedavra’d on the spot.



So yes, I have a set list of favourites that I re-read EVERY summer (all 7 HP’s, The Hobbit, The LOTR Trilogy, and 3 different Tamora Pierce Quartets; Allana, Daine and Kel), and have since I was about 11 years old, and I don’t even feel a little bit weird or guilty or childish about it. Here’s why:

It’s good for your Brain. Your brain needs the chance to relax after a whole year of cramming during school. You need a certain amount of vegging-out so that you can start… vegging-IN, come September. But you also can’t just do NOTHING all summer… you’ll get Brain Drain, and start using double negatives in your sentences or something outrageous like that! Best thing to do? Exercise those synaptic connections by picking up a book you know you love: it might not be challenging, per se, but it's working out all the right muscles and keeping the cogs turning. And then you won't have to worry about regressing a grade level or anything horrifying like that.

It's good for your Body. Re-reading comes with some surprising health benefits that are linked to our emotional releases and sense of well-being. It's theraputic. And before anyone asks, no, that is not a picture of me in that first article... EVERYONE loves HP.

It's good for your Soul. Hot on the heels of me saying how much I love ALL books, I also have to speak to the utter power of curriculum-required, school-assigned readings to crush your soul. It's summer! Read what you want! Read WHATEVER you want. If that means forgoing "Ender's Game" (and just waiting for the movie) or postponing the latest George R.R. Martin in favour of picking up Percy Jackson one more time, just do it! Life is too short to read bad books. Enjoy your free time will while you have it!

Also... a lot of really successful people do it. A lot of super smart people testify to the importance of re-reading favourite books. That’s how you know it’s a good idea.

So here's my recommendation: Spend some time this summer with well-loved favourites. You'll thank yourself (and ME!) for it.

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!?!?!

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

by Alexandra - 2 Comment(s)

It’s rare that a book comes along that we consider so good we are willing to dedicate an entire blog post to it. Usually we talk about books within a genre, like dystopian or horror, and list our favourites from the collection for you to check out! It’s even rarer that we would feature a book from the high-fantasy realm, as those kind of books tend to be niche-reads… not everyone can get behind goblins and orcs and princesses and evil kings…

But what about dragons?

There is just something about dragons that really sparks our imaginations and gets people fired up (har har). Maybe it’s the fact that there are dragon mythologies in just about every part of the world, seriously pre-dating any form of world travel – most legends of magical creatures are fairly geographically isolated… Ever heard of a Canadian Kappa or an African Leprechaun? But there are stories of dragons from Asia, Europe, Africa, North America, South America… even way down in Australia and New Zealand!

Or what about the fact that we know dinosaurs once walked the earth… is it so hard to believe in some straggling survivors? We see lizards and komodos, birds and beasts all over the planet that really get us thinking…

Dragons are a staple of fantasy stories, and their popularity in kids and teen fiction is nothing new… (see Harry Potter, Eragon, How to Train Your Dragon, anything by Mercedes Lackey, loads of stuff from Chris d’Lacey, Emily Rodda, Jane Yolen… this list is too massive to even begin here), but as we said previously, not everyone can get through all the other high-fantasy stuff just to get to the dragons. If YOU can’t, check this out:


Seraphina is a young musician working in the palace courts (okay, so there are Royals too, but that’s the ONLY other fantasy-y thing, I promise), trying to keep her head down and just play her instruments. She is very, very talented, but promised her father she would not draw unnecessary attention to herself – you can’t be too careful when you’re an adolescent lady alone in the palace. You ESPECIALLY can’t be too careful when this particular castle is rocked by the suspected assassination of a beloved prince, the heir to their throne. Cause of death? Beheading by dragon-bite. Motive behind death? To destroy the already weak peace established between humans and dragons. You see, in this world, Dragons and Humans live side-by-side, though far from in harmony (it’s hard to do when one half of society is constantly eating the other half…). A tenuous peace was established by the previously-mentioned (and currently dead) prince’s mother and the Ardmagar, the leader of dragons. For the last 40 years, dragons have been perfecting the ability to take human form, to walk about in human company and to live and learn in human society. The only problem is, they are not human. And everyone knows it. They are cold, calculating, scientifically-inclined, unemotional (think Vulcans, but with the ability to shed their skin and pop scales and fangs in an instant) – they are hard to befriend and no one really wants to anyways. Except for Seraphina, who has a secret that could very well save the kingdom from a brutal, interspecies-war and imminent destruction…

Readers and critics alike do not have enough good things to say about this book, and its sequel Drachomachia is due out in the new year. You’ll want to get into this series as soon as possible, even if you’re NOT usually into fantasy. It is WELL WORTH the read! And (drumroll please) we here at CPL have a copy of this fantastic book to give away - just leave your name & contact info in the comments to be entered in the draw.

Other dragons in the news? Well... we just left the Zodiac's year of the dragon, but Benedict Cumberbatch is up for an Oscar for Voicing SMAUG in the Hobbit Series... he studied Komodo Dragons at the London Zoo to prepare for the role... There are also these great titles:

    

Poke a little fun!

by Alexandra - 2 Comment(s)

If you weren't around (or paying attention) when the R-rated Go the eff to Sleep came out last year, you're missing out on a hilarious tradition of revamped classics made for Kids[at-heart]. I mean, this story is NOT for children -- but most people who used to be children (or who currently have their own) seem to find it spot-on.

It riffs on classic tropes in Children's Lit and Bedtime Stories -- soothing images of baby animals and their parents, gently poetic rhymes, and lots of repetition -- to help frustrated parents access a part of childcare that traditionally just isn't spoken about. People say it closely resembles Eric Metaxas' It's time to sleep, My Love, and if you check it out, you can see why.

This one particular example is extremely well-known, from the Samuel L. Jackson audio recording, to the parodies OF the parody (MAD magazine did one a couple of months ago), to the toned-down, family-rated version of the story that the Author wrote because there was such demand for it; Seriously, Just Go to Sleep.

If this is the sort of thing you're into, you'll want to check out these titles too:

Gear up for Grad

by Alexandra - 0 Comment(s)

Okay, so let's forget for a moment that it's actually called GRAD, and those crazy Americans have it all ack-basswards, and let's also skimp over the part where there don't seem to be any grad books for boys... and just cut straight to the part where graduation season is in full swing and you guys must be going out of your minds! It's an exciting yet stressful time for some, and an over-rated and hellish time for others, but either way you can't deny this is your penultimate High School experience (or maybe your ultimate, depending how you feel about convocation...) Whichever camp you sit in, whether you're grad-crazy or grad-makes-you-crazy, we've got some great reads for the graduating class of 2012:

May is Zombie Awareness Month

by Alexandra - 4 Comment(s)

It's something of an inside joke here at Services for Children, Teens and Families that my TOP 5 list of GREATEST FEARS is pretty ridiculous. I mean... I don't think it's any more ridiculous than the next person's (fear in itself is quite irrational, is it not?) but everyone else seems to think I'm off my rocker.

ALEX'S TOP 5 GREATEST FEARS OF ALL TIME:

1) Fast Zombies

2) Rabbits

3) Slow Zombies

4) Lactose Intolerance (for me... I'm afraid of becoming LI, I'm not afraid of people that already are...)

5) Carrot Top (this guy)

I'm going to skip the things people say about me when I tell them about my lagomorphobia (that's the bunny bit, and no, it has NOTHING to do with Monty Python and the Holy Grail), because that's a whole other story, and today we are going to discuss my fear of Zombies.

People seem to think that Zombies are a silly thing for me to be afraid of. Because hey, why be afraid of something that's not real, right? WRONG. I think it is actually HUGELY intelligent for me to be afraid of both real and not-yet-real things (notice that phrasing, it will be important later). Because then I'm truly prepared for every eventuality. Like what if you thought your biggest fear in the whole world was black-widow spiders, but then massive, eight-legged, blood-sucking, bone-bashing, super-intelligent aliens came to Earth, and you were like "Freak on a Peak, I just pooped myself becauseI just saw something I didn't even KNOW I was afraid of!" and your body shut down and you just died from fear on the spot. WHO'S LAUGHING NOW?!?! I am. Because I have covered all of my bases and evaluated the things that are to be feared RIGHT NOW (like bloatiness from drinking too much milk) and DOWN THE ROAD (like undead ex-friends and family who are trying to suck my brain out through my nostrils). And fear will not surprise me.

If you want to be prepared for a possible Zombie Apocalypse, here are some things you need to check out:

This Scientific Article about Toxoplasmosa Gondii and a podcast about it too.

The story of Clairvius Narcisse, who's [Voodoo] Doctor turned him into a Zombie

The Symptoms of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (sounds like zombies to me!)

or the cracked.com article (which is much less PG-13, but way funnier than these others), Top 5 Ways a Zombie Apocalypse COULD Happen.

Then you'll want to look into the Calgary Zombie Survival Guide.

Still not convinced? Well... maybe some of these books will get you there:

And just in case that's not enough... there's always Zombie Carrot Top with Milky Eyes...

Snow White Redux

by Alexandra - 2 Comment(s)

Okay... so this whole Twisted Fairytales thing is totally blowing me away. I don't even know where to start! With TWO Snow White revamps coming up this year alone, not to mention that "Once upon a Time" TV show on ABC (yeah... it's about Snow White too...) I realized it was high-time to shed some light on this trend. Thus begins the first of a chain of blogs dedicated to unravelling, demystifying, and just plain gushing over the many adaptations of our fave classic stories.

I'll start with Snow White because that's what got this ball rolling... but FIRST! A little history:


When the Grimm Brothers first published their works in 1857, the young girl who WE know as Snow White was then known as Snow-Drop or Sneewittchen. And while I just called her a "young girl" you might be surprised to know exactly HOW young. In the original version, she is only SEVEN YEARS OLD. As time went on, I suppose people decided it was just too creepy for some random prince to come waltzing by a glass coffin, see a pretty, little [dead] seven-year-old, decide he's gonna kiss her, and then take her to his castle to be his bride. As with a lot of these stories, the disturbing and scary originals are continually adapted to fit current trends and inclinations. So! At one point the story said that Snow White was a kid when she "died" but kept aging in the coffin, so that by the time the prince got to her she was... 16... (still not great...), and eventually, people just decided that she was 16 when she went into the woods, 16 when she died, and then 16 when the prince woke her up. Check out all the sordid details about your fave Fairytales from this awesome E-resource available for FREE from the Calgary Public Library: World Folklore Today and Folklife

But now let's take a look at something a little more twisted:

Mirror Mirror

With an All-Star cast and GORGEOUS costuming, this rendition promises to be a fun flick about "the untold story" of Snow White, full of political intrigue, role-reversals (I believe Snow saves Prince Charming on several occasions...) and some light-hearted jibes at an aging Julia Roberts.

Mirror Mirror has a release date of March 16th of this year, but to tide you over, you can watch the trailer on IMDB here.


Snow White and the Huntsman

Unlike Mirror, Mirror, this redux of Snow White promises to be much darker, and much angstier. Ready to leave Bella Swan far behind her, Kristen Stewart takes on this new role with gusto. She is apparently doing her own stunts, and even if she's not doing them so well, it's much better than letting Edward and Jacob get all the action.

Snow White & The Huntsman will come out on June 1st, but if you follow the title link there are lots of video clips and images to placate you in the meantime!

Once Upon a Time is ABC's crack at the fairytale revamp. It modernizes some of our favourite childhood characters (although it must be noted that they use the Disney versions of most characters, not the original ones, as ABC is owned by Disney) and drops them into a small town in the states, where time is frozen and Snow White's daughter is the key to unlocking an evil curse. I've never seen it, but I've only heard good things.

And it's not just movies and TV shows, although if you want the full list of film adaptations available through CPL, we have a list pending. There are dozens and dozens of books featuring Snow that we have currently circulating in our collection. I've only put the highlights of the other collections and ALL the YA ones here, but feel free to come into ANY branch if you're looking for a specific version.

Picture/Storybooks in the Juvenile Collection:

Adult Spin Offs:

Young Adult and Graphix:

Non-Fiction

I'll be home for Christmas...

by Alexandra - 1 Comment(s)

Everyone has a list of Christmas Classics that they work their way through every year. I only have three that I haven't yet watched in 2011 (both "Grinches" and "Home Alone")... but it's only Christmas Eve! I like to keep the magic going and watch a bunch of movies well into Boxing Day as well. "Love, Actually" and "The Holiday" are two that I've already seen six times this year, but that's 'cause they're good year-round, and I'm a perennial Christmas-in-July-er.

But when I was looking at my list, I realized that there's a pretty huge gap in the genre, and that movies geared towards teens just aren't factoring into the Hollywood Christmas equation. I find this strange, since Teen Choice is pretty much ruling the scene in every other facet of entertainment. At any rate, it seems like flicks go straight from sickly sweet Kid's movies to R-rated College movies, and there's no mid-range for Jr. High or High School. Maybe I'm wrong though. Maybe you can help me compile a list of the best of the best for Teen Christmas. It's going to be piecemeal, we're going to have to stitch it together bit by bit, but maybe that's what Teen Christmas is all about... holding on to what remains of your childhood, grasping on to what you want out of your future... and add a healthy dose of sarcasm and humour. Merry Christmas... and pardon my gifs.

There is one GLARING exception to that statement, which is, of course, the glaring exception to MOST things. It's Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas. Part Christmas, part Halloween, part creepy, part adorable, mix some morbid, macabre, grossie bits with equal parts lovely, romantic, heartfelt bits, and you've got yourself an instant teen classic. It's not for kids (I wasn't allowed to watch it 'cause my mom new I'd get... nightmares...) and not for adults, unless they grew up with it (Movie Maniac Moe can't watch ANY Tim Burton movies because the animations freak her out). But teens hold up Jack Skellington as a paradigm of awesome; you can see his face plastered on everything from hoodies to watches... and poor Sally fits into our metaphor of a patched-together Christmas perfectly.

Mean Girls is NOT a Christmas movie, but it does have two of the greatest snapshots of School Christmas ever to be caught on film: 1) Candy Grams, the best-tasting, most bittersweet test of popularity to ever exist, and

2) The annual Talent Show/Christmas Pagaent/Winter Musical showcase of mediocre "dance skillz" by resident school hotties.

This is pretty much exactly what Jr. High was like for me, and if you haven't seen it yet, watch it, and tell me if it holds up to your school experience. I LOVE THIS MOVIE!

Ummmmmmmm Charlie is a kid in the first Santa Clause, and a graffiti-ing teen in the second... that counts, right? Teens love spraypaint, right?

There's a pretty excellent scene in the full-length Grinch where our green buddy tries shaving for the first time. That's a standard teen trope if ever I saw one!

Buddy the Elf's parents were High School sweethearts. And now I know I'm stretching this way too far. Also thanks to hawkeyefan31 for this gif. If you can't tell, I'm just learning how to make them, and they're pretty sad.

And of course, Christmas Classics aren't limited to movies. After all, what is Christmas without music. Here are some of my favourite Christmas tunes... I'm sure I'm missing plenty, so please send along your favourite playlist so I can add it to mine.

Top of the list is Sufujan Stevens Songs for Christmas. If you haven't already heard it, I'm really sorry Christmas is over and you'll have to wait until next year (because we all know Christmas music after the 26th is a taboo - right?). Songs for Christmas is a brilliant album where Stevens remixes a ton of Christmas classics, mostly religious, in his folksy, quirky way. He also throws in some great original compositions.

Next on my list is Hawksley Workman's First Snow of the Year which captures the joy you feel as a kid when you look out the window and shout 'It's snowing!!' and also, his great tune Merry Christmas (I Love You)

I just recently discovered The Bones of Winter by Said The Whale. This is a darker, more sombre tune that captures the desperate feeling we sometimes have around winter solstice when we know there are 3 more months without sun... it is a lovely song.

Similarly, Joni Mitchell's River is sad song capturing the desparation of loneliness... absolutely beautiful.

I love Fall Out Boy's cover of What's This? It's lots of fun.

And what is Christmas without Vince Guaraldi Trio's Christmas Time is Here ! I'm sure I don't need to tell you that this masterpiece is a Christmas staple and among the most popular Christmas tunes.

So there you have it. The best of the best we could come with with for Christmas and Teens. If you know of a teen movie or song that I'm missing out on, weigh in on the comments board. I hope you all have a very merry Christmas, and we'll see you on the other side.

Coverage

by Jilliane - 0 Comment(s)

I was reading this article from Leaky News the other day, which decries the most recent covers of the "Alanna" series by Tamora Pierce. Basically, the argument is this: Alanna is a kick-@$$, rough-and-tumble, heroine of EPIC proportions, but you would never be able to tell that by the new covers, because they make her look like a boy-crazy girly-girl. This argument is not new. People have been disgusted by this from the moment they first saw the covers, when they opened the box this past summer.


But what you have to understand here, is that I have read this series at LEAST a dozen times, almost every year since I was a kid. I grew up with Alanna. I watched her go from this:

--> to this --> then this --> and this

and finally, heart-breakingly, to this:

You will note, of course, the lack of her beautiful and faithful horse, Moonlight, who is present in ALL of the previous covers, in favour of two simpering, broody boys who are both pining after Alanna. Don't get me wrong, Jonathan and George DO both love her... but that drama only happens for like 20 pages. Honestly. She has a much more interesting relationship with her horse.

And look, I get it. These books get a new print run every couple of years because they really ARE that good, and they really DON'T age as time goes on. I love them just as much now as I did 15 years ago. And the esthetic trends of books are changing faster than most people can keep up with. I mean... When I had to replace my first copies of the books (I had worn them completely out) I was STOKED to upgrade from the third image on that list to the fourth. The last set of releases (before these horrifying new ones) were really, really good.

Especially in YA Lit, where publishers are always looking for the latest and greatest trend, and have to distinguish their books from the myriad of other books just like it, covers are especially important. And despite the age-old adage to "Never judge a book by it's cover", taking one look at a book is enough to tell me whether or not I'm going to pick it up off a shelf. I mean, it's not the ONLY reason I'll read a book, but if I'm just browsing, not looking for something specific, I am DEFINITELY drawn towards the cooler covers.

So here's what I want to know:

Do you have a beloved favourite that you feel was butchered by a new print-run with terrible covers?

What books have you avoided based purely on their appearance?

What books have covers that are totally appealing to you, that you'll pick up regardless of what it's about?

Have you ever taken a book out, or bought one, just because of the cover, and then never read it? Or pretended to just because it looked cool?

What's your favourite book that lived up to it's cover?

What books are awesome and deserve way better covers than the ones they got?

I know that's a lot, but I really want to know! Leave your comments above!

And if you want to see what I'm talking about with this book covers trends thing, check out these lists based on genre:

http://old.calgarypubliclibrary.com/teenzone/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=115

You'll be shocked to see how similar the covers of books in certain genres are! (My faves are the fantasy covers!)

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