Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cool Water by Dianne Warren

Recently Dianne Warren’s novel, Cool Water, won the 2010 Governor General’s award for fiction. When I picked it up and read the description, it didn’t strike me at first, but since it was an award winner, I thought I’d give it a try. Am I ever glad I did! I loved this book, and it is one of my favourites of 2010.

The book takes place over a 24 hour period and chronicles a day in the life of the community of Juliet Saskatchewan. The people of the town and its surroundings go about their daily lives. What is different about this particular day, is that a stray horse has found its way onto the farm of Lee Torgeson. Lee decides to take the horse for a midnight ride which then extends to a 100 mile trek throughout the next day. This ride is the thread that ties the characters of the novel together. Lee, the rider, was a foundling, left on the doorstep of a childless couple who loved and raised him as their own. Other characters include the kindly banker who despite having a position of power in the community has no power at all; the stressed out couple with six children wrestling with the weight of imminent farm foreclosure, and others.

The characters in this novel are ordinary, yet complex. They are the people we see about us each day - each with a story to tell of love and loss, guilt, desire, loneliness, and strength.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Porcupine in a Pine Tree by Helaine Becker, Illustrated by Werner Zimmermann

Today I’m focusing on Christmas books for children. A brand new Christmas picture book by Helaine Becker and illustrated by Werner Zimmermann, is A Porcupine in a pine tree.

This book is sure to become a holiday classic in many households. It is so wonderfully Canadian. This book contains every Canadian stereotype one can think of including bear cubs, loons, Mounties, caribou, beaver, moose, Maple Leaf hockey players and Stanley Cups. There is loads of action as the “gifts” romp across the pages; especially as the Maple Leafs try to grab the elusive Stanley Cups.

Another favourite from their Snowmen series is Snowmen at Christmas by Caralyn Buehner and illustrated by Mark Buehner. It answers the question “How do snowmen celebrate Christmas?” It seems they slip away and enjoy a Christmas celebration of their own. The artwork in this book is absolutely gorgeous. Each snowman exudes warmth, personality, and charm, and half the fun is looking for the small details on each page.

Take the time this holiday to cuddle up with a child you love and share a wonderful Christmas story.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Visit from St. Nicholas by Clement C. Moore, illustrated by Kim Fernandes

The children’s poem A Visit from St. Nicholas is a favourite of many – but it is more commonly known by the title “Twas the night before Christmas”. Clement C. Moore wrote the poem for his children and did not at first acknowledge ownership. Fortunately it was published, and millions have enjoyed it ever since.

If you type “Night before Christmas” into the library’s search, you would find 9 different entries of the poem in various media formats. My personal favourite is titled “A visit from St. Nicholas” and is illustrated by Kim Fernandes. Fernandes’ vibrant three-dimensional illustrations leap off the page. The illustrations seem lovingly rendered - and any child or adult will pore over the tiniest of details.

If you are interested, check out the history of this poem and discover how it has influenced the development of modern Christmas celebrations. Whatever your favourite version of the poem is, I hope you’ll find time to enjoy it this Christmas.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Changing my Mind by Margaret Trudeau

Margaret Trudeau has been in the public eye since her marriage to the Prime Minister at the age of twenty two. We watched her as a young mother and thought she was living the fairy tale. The public then watched as her first marriage ended. She had to endure the spotlight again following the deaths of her son Michel, and of Pierre Trudeau.

What we didn’t know was that through it all she struggled with Bipolar disorder. After receiving the diagnosis and learning how to deal with the disease, Margaret Trudeau has dedicated herself to helping others suffering from mental illness and bringing water to families in countries like Ethiopia.

In the book, Trudeau shares many personal photographs, and it includes 3 essays written by mental health professionals.

This book has been on bestseller lists for several weeks. This isn’t just any memoir, but one written by an incredibly interesting and courageous Canadian. The book is held in most library branches.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Jeannette Walls' memoir The Glass Castle takes us through the author's experience of growing up in a shockingly dysfunctional family. Jeannette's father, when sober, captured his children's imagination by promising to build them a "glass castle" in the desert, but when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. His dream of the castle was a fairytale that kept Jeannette and her three siblings scrounging through garbage cans for food, and painting their skin so the holes in their clothes did not show. Jeannette's mother was and artist who lived in a fantasy world and described herself as an "excitement addict"; a free spirit.

They lived on the run from collection agencies and family services. The children fed, clothed and protected each other. Eventually the children prospered and offered help to their parents, who chose to live homeless.

This book has been in the library for several years, but still enjoys huge popularity. One of our staff found the book compelling, and it left her marveling at the persistence and loyalty within this family.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Canadian Railroad Trilogy by Gordon Lightfoot, art by Ian Wallace

In my opinion Gordon Lightfoot’s Canadian Railroad Trilogy is one of the best Canadian songs ever written. Ian Wallace has taken the lyrics of this iconic song, and produced a wonderful new children’s book, entitled Canadian Railroad Trilogy.

I can think of no other event in our nation’s history that so changed the physical and economic landscape of the country than the building of the railway. The illustrations in this book capture the vision of the politicians and entrepreneurs in the east, the toil and hardships of the navies swingin’ their hammers, and the quiet pristine landscape populated by the First Nations peoples.

This is a picture book, but it is definitely not just a children’s book. There is something in it for everyone. The book includes the song lyrics and music, illustrator’s notes, a brief history of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and suggestions for further reading. This book is more than history, it is a work of art.

November 7th marked the 125th anniversary of the Last Spike. It is the perfect time to enjoy this new book.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Aloha Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini

The weather forecast has been reminding us that this lovely weather will soon come to an end.

Dorothy in our Morden Branch recommends a new book from Jennifer Chiaverini’s Elm Creek Quilt Series. The Aloha Quilt is set in Hawaii, and follows the story of one of the quilters, Bonnie.

Bonnie finds herself at a crossroads in her life. She has an unexpected opportunity to go to Hawaii to help a friend set up an exciting new business: a quilter’s retreat at a bed and breakfast amid the vibrant colours and balmy breezes of the Hawaiian Islands. This certainly is not an opportunity to let pass by. Soon Bonnie finds herself immersed in the history and intricacies of making Hawaiian quilts.

This is the 16th book in the Elm Creek Quilt series. Each book offers a personal story of one of the quilters, fascinating folk history, the story of a particular quilt pattern, and a lot of inspiration to create a quilt of your own.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Harperland: The Politics of Control by Lawrence Martin

Last week we talked about the American election, and this week I’d like to focus on Canadian politics, specifically the new book by Globe and Mail columnist Lawrence Martin, Harperland: the politics of control. This book has been on the bestseller lists for several weeks.

Martin draws on interviews with prominent insiders to examine all aspects of Harper’s government. The dust jacket states that “Martin probes the secrecy, the muzzling of opponents, and the workings of an exhaustive vetting system.” Included in Martin’s investigation are Harper’s silencing of the diplomatic service, the centralizing of power, the relationship with the media, the Chuck Cadman affair, campaign financing, the dismissal of Linda Keen, the Afghan detainees cover-up and much more.

Lawrence Martin notes that “Stephen Harper could be gone in a few months or he could be Prime Minister for another ten or fifteen years”. Harperland is available in the library and could help readers decide which of those scenarios will occur.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Obama's Wars by Bob Woodward

Obama’s Wars is the latest book by Pulitzer Prize winning Washington Post reporter, Bob Woodward. After its release several weeks ago, it instantly rose to the top of the best seller lists.

Woodward chronicles the situation Obama faced when he entered the White House and the subsequent relationship between the Commander-In-Chief, the Pentagon, and his staff. The dust jacket states that “Woodward has discovered how the Obama White House really works, showing that even more tough decisions lie ahead for the cerebral and engaged President.” Woodward also delves into the situation in Pakistan where there is an unstable government, terrorist camps, and nuclear weapons.

It is very difficult for Canadians to escape the news coming from south of the border. In the run-up to the November elections, many books are finding their way into bookstores and libraries. Obama’s Wars is located in several library branches, and many other books on the current administration are also available.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Creative Costumes

“Mom I need a costume” will have a familiar ring in many households at this time of year. Buying a costume from the store can be very easy, but making a costume can be very satisfying and a lot cheaper. A new book, Creative Costumes by Ecocrafts demonstrates how to recycle materials to make fun costumes.

The costumes in this book can easily be made from materials around the home with some glue and paint –little or no sewing ability required for most of them. A few colourful plastic bags and a little glue can become a lovely mermaid costume. Find an old tank top and cut up an old lace tablecloth and you can quickly transform them into a princess costume. Using green garbage bags and a green 2 litre pop bottle anyone can quickly become a fire breathing dragon. A knight in shining armor is also a possibility.

Creative costumes is only one of the many costume making books in the library. A list of titles is currently posted on our website www.scrlibrary.mb.ca. Making costumes together is a great way to spend time with family and also use up some of the odds and ends around the house.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Complete Peanuts

Good Grief, Charlie Brown is 60 years old today. That was the text of an email I got one day last week.
The body of work created by Charles M. Schulz is staggering and would be a huge undertaking for any fan to go through.

Across the decades Schulz has entertained us with his loveable characters. The library holds the series, The Complete Peanuts. In this body of work, the evolution of the series is apparent. By the mid 1950s many of the characters had already assumed most of their lovable quirks. Charlie Brown had taken on the persona of the loveable loser. Linus had found his security blanket and with it his voice. Schroeder only had eyes and ears for Beethoven, much to Lucy's chagrin. And Snoopy’s imagination had begun to sore. The longevity of the characters is truly amazing.

The timelessness of the comic strip is evidence of how deeply fans of any age identify with the characters. As the evenings become longer and we are forced inside, The Complete Peanuts would be a little like wrapping ourselves in our own security blanket.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

October is Library Month

October is Library Month and this year’s theme is, Your Library: Your world: Opening Doors to the Future. This year the Canadian Library Association and libraries across the country are “emphasizing their role in introducing new ideas, new stories and new ways into the world around us through traditional and emerging technologies”.

One example of merging technologies found in today’s libraries is access to a service called Overdrive. Overdrive offers downloadable audio books and is available free to all library card holders. Overdrive is available on the library’s website www.scrlibrary.mb.ca. The type of device each book can be played on is indicated in the Overdrive catalogue. These cover a wide range including a PC, Mac, Windows Media Audio, Ipod, MP3 or ebook reader. Once the titles are downloaded, patrons have them for 2 weeks at which time they are removed from the device. However, many titles may be burned onto CD – great for anyone going on a long trip.

Overdrive has a large catalogue of titles that includes children’s books, young adult, fiction, nonfiction and many classics.

If there is a title you’ve always wanted to read but just never got to – check the overdrive catalogue.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Wind Power Basics by Dan Chiras

Many of us who live in the Red River Valley have been keeping an eye on the horizon over the past month or so. The St. Joseph Wind Farm is taking shape and the towers are now rising.

Wind energy has been around for centuries but the new 21st century applications are mind boggling. Dan Chiras has authored a series of books on different renewable energy technologies. Wind Power Basics can be found on the shelf in the Morden Branch but is available to all patrons through interbranch loan. The book examines all aspects of small-scale installations as well as offering a detailed introduction to this emerging technology.

Dan Chiras is an educator and author of many books on residential renewable energy. Another of his books, Solar Electricity Basics can be found in the Altona Branch.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Mary has found Sharyn McCrumb’s new book The Devil Amongst the Lawyers both entertaining and informative.

It is 1934 and an Appalachian Virginia teacher is accused of murdering her tyrant father. Reporters from the big cities come to report on the story. However, they don’t find what they’re looking for. They are looking for backwoods hillbillies that everyone can feel sorry for. All they find are ordinary people going about their business just like everyone else in the country. The book goes on to explain how the reporters slant their stories to provide the sensationalism that their editors are looking for. Only one young, idealistic reporter tries to report “just the facts”.
The story has a surprise ending that isn’t what the big city reporters expected.

This book is fiction, but it poses the question: can you believe everything you read in the newspaper?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Bee and me by Ellie J. McGuinness, illustrated by Heather Brown

This week and next, branches of the South Central Regional Library are taking registrations for the fall session of Pre-School Storytime. This program runs every Wed. morning from 10 – 10:45, so please call your local branch for details, or check the library’s website.

One children’s book that comes highly recommended by Brody and his Grandmother Shirl, is The Bee and Me written by Ellie J McGuinness and illustrated by Heather Brown. In this book, the bee is working in a backyard - doing what bees do. A dog scares the bee and it ends up trapped in a little boy’s room. Initially the boy is frightened and hides, but curiosity gets the best of him. This bee can talk and informs the boy and the reader of the vital role bees play in the environment.

One feature of this book is the “animation”. It is drawn in such a way that the bee appears to fly and dance, the flower appears to open from a bud, and the bee cries a big tear as the boy waves goodbye and frees him.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The no-cry separation anxiety solution by Elizabeth Pantley

This is a season of change for many families. Anxiety in children beginning kindergarten or day-care can cause a parent’s heart to break. Elizabeth Pantley has developed gentle, effective solutions for every separation situation in her new book The no-cry separation anxiety solution. Her book will help children and parents alike.

Pantley examines and explains separation anxiety and provides practical instructions and solutions for overcoming the challenging moments. She helps parents to understand separation anxiety as a normal stage of development. Pantley explains the difference between anxiety that stems from fear, and the love-based separation that is often found in families facing new experiences.

Pantley notes that children express separation anxiety in different ways. She writes that even if children display no outward signs of anxiety, that doesn’t mean they do not feel it.

She points out that it is critical to examine each child’s individual needs in order to best help them cope.

Pantley’s book is available in most library branches.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende

Each new book by Isabel Allende is eagerly anticipated by her many fans. Her newest book Island Beneath the Sea does not disappoint. With her straight forward, honest narrative style, Allende explores the history of Haiti.

Tete is a slave girl, the daughter of an African mother and one of the white sailors who brought her to the new world. She becomes the property of Toulouse Valmorain, and their lives remain intertwined throughout the novel. The family becomes embroiled in Haiti’s bloody revolution and eventually make their way to New Orleans. Throughout her youth, Tete remains determined to be free. All through her life she finds love and humanity as she and those she loves endure unimaginable cruelty and victimization.

This timely book is more than a great story. I would venture to say that despite Haiti being in the news for the past year, most of us know very little about that country’s history. As she has in so many previous novels, Allende gives us a fictional tale interwoven with real-life characters and events. In my humble opinion, this is one of her best.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I See Rude People by Amy Alkon

Sometimes the subject of my little book talk just seems to fall out of the sky, or perhaps I should say, slide down the emergency chute. Steven Slater’s actions last week brought to light the growing annoyance of rude behaviour. A new Ipsos Reid poll has just been released regarding cell phone use, and it’s obvious that more and more attention is being paid to “techno-haviour”.

In her new book I see rude people, Amy Alkon, an award winning, syndicated advice columnist tells of her “battle to beat some manners into impolite society”. In the book she states that she is trying to put the “civil” back into civilization.

Alkon delves into all types of rude behavior and confronts the perpetrators: lax parents, internet bullies, telemarketing executives, parking space hogs, and loud jerks, among others. It is her assertion that rude behavior has increased because there are no longer any consequences for it.

Her practical suggestions for battling rude behavior are entertaining to say the least, and practical – if one has nerve.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dinosaur Cove series by Rex Stone

The latest edition of Time magazine includes a cover article on how much learning children lose during a 2 month summer vacation. Goals of our Summer Reading Club are to reduce this summer learning loss as well as encouraging children to read for pleasure. While the Summer Reading Club is no longer taking registrations, anytime is a good time to get into - or back to - the habit of reading.

A new series that is popular among boys and girls who like adventure tales is the Dinosaur Cove series. In this series, Jamie has just moved from the city into the lighthouse at Dinosaur Cove. Jamie’s dad plans to open a dinosaur museum on the main floor, but Jamie and his new friend, a local boy named Tom, discover a cave that leads into a secret world of real dinosaurs.

The quick pace of the novels, and the cartoon style illustrations throughout, make them fun to read and the reading level will appeal to a broad range of children.

I know that with this summer’s weather kids would rather spend their days in the pool – who wouldn’t. But a few minutes of reading each day can be both beneficial and enjoyable.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The O'Hara Affair by Kate Thompson

For a good tale that’s best read curled up in a lawn chair with a cold glass of your favourite beverage, Mary recommends The O’Hara affair by Kate Thompson.

The recession has affected the Irish village of Lissamore and everyone is grateful for a chance to earn some extra money. The village has been selected as the setting for a new movie about the life of Gerald O’Hara, of Gone with the Wind fame, before he emigrated to the United States.

This story centers around three women: Fleur, who owns a vintage clothing boutique and is happily involved in an affair with the movie’s financial backer; Dervla is newly married, but with her husband Christian working away more than he’s at home, she is left alone to care for her demanding mother-in-law who suffers from dementia; and Bethany, a young girl who is working as an extra in the movie. Fleur and Bethany become involved in a social networking fantasy called Second Life, and Fleur finds herself giving advice over the internet.

The village buzzes with activity giving the plot many unforeseen twists and turns in this great summer read.

Nomad by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

In 2007 Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s memoir, Infidel, spent 8 months on international bestseller lists. Now she has penned a followup, Nomad, and it has made its way onto bestseller lists as well.

In this book, the author tells the story of her break with her family and the challenges she faced after coming to America. The flyleaf notes how she “struggled to throw off restrictive superstitions and misconceptions that initially hobbled her ability to assimilate into Western society” and that Nomad is a portrait of a family literally torn apart by the clash of civilizations”. Hirsi Ali renounced Islam after the September 11 attacks, and was disowned by her father. In the book she writes of her reconciliation with her father and other family members.

But the book is more than a memoir. She also has a warning for the Western world – not to underestimate radical Islam.

Both Hirsi Ali’s Infidel, and Nomad can be picked up in your local branch.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Black Bottle Man by Craig Russell

Library users become creatures of habit. We tend to borrow books from our favourite section and not wander into other sections.

The library’s Young Adult section contains books by many great authors and holds wonderful surprises for readers of any age.

One of these wonderful surprises was Black Bottle Man by Craig Russell. The story begins in 1927, when the main character, Rembrandt, is just 12 years old. His 2 aunts make a deadly deal with a man in a black top coat and a ‘glad-ta-meet-ya’ smile. In order to undo the wager, Rembrandt, his Pa, and Uncle Thompson, leave on a journey to find their champion that will help them defeat the Black Bottle Man. The only condition is that they cannot remain in the same place for more than 12 days or the Black Bottle Man will do something to ensure that they move on.

Although this book is located in the Young Adult section, it appeals to adult readers as well. It is a gripping tale that is impossible to put down.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

One for the Money by Janet Evanovich

For many, summer is a time for light, fun reading. Tracy in our Morden branch enjoys Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels, and she is not alone. One of her favourites is One for the money.

The heroine in the novel, Stepahnie Plum, is a woman in her late 20s who finds herself desperately in need of money. She learns of a $10,000 reward for the capture of an expoliceman, Joe Morelli. With the help of her cousin Vinnie, a bail bondsman, she takes on the job, despite having no prior experience in this line of work.

Their search for Morelli takes them to the seediest parts of Trenton, and into contact with some dangerous people. Stephanie learns that all is not as it seems and the novel takes some interesting plot twists.

Janet Evanovich is definitely a popular author at any time of the year. If you are having trouble finding some entertaining summer reading, just ask the staff at any of the branches. We’ll be happy to make suggestions.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The World is a Ball: the Joy, Madness and Meaning of Soccer by John Doyle

I have to be upfront, I am not a soccer fan, however, billions of people around the world are. John Doyle’s new book, The World is a Ball: the joy, madness and meaning of soccer, is a good starting point for people who wish to understand the lure of the sport. This book is currently #1 on the Maclean’s bestseller list, and is available at the library.

The author examines the history of the sport over the past 50 years, and its evolution as a global phenomenon and the world’s most popular sport. This book takes the reader from the soccer clubs of Ireland in the 1960s to the 2010 World Cup. The book includes a great deal of social history, and delves into the game where for 90 minutes, colonists can overcome colonizers, and where oppressed immigrants can beat out their oppressors.

This book has been enjoyed for its humor and history by those who are passionate about soccer and those who are not.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Remarkable Creatures by Tracey Chevalier

Our branches look like jungles these days, but staff would be happy to recommend titles to help you through the jungle of adult books.

Kim in our Winkler Branch recommends Remarkable Creatures by Tracey Chevalier. This book, based on real events and real people, is set in the early 1800s in the English seaside town of Lyme Regis. Poor and uneducated Mary Anning, finds a friend and ally in the educated Lady Elizabeth Philpot. Both women have an interest in searching the coast for fossils in the time before there was any understanding of dinosaur existence.

Mary’s discovery of a “fish lizard”, later called the ichthyosaurus, and its subsequent assembly drew scientists and collectors to the area. Although both women contributed a great deal to the finding and understanding of fossils, neither received much pay or recognition for their work.

The fossil discoveries made by these women, which are still in museum collections today, predated Darwin and called into question notions of how the world was formed and how old it was.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Animals of the World from World Book

Libraries are gearing up for the Summer Reading Club, Destination Jungle, and registration begins June 24.
With this in mind I’d like to highlight several new series from World Book, found in the Juvenile Non-fiction section. These series, collectively titled Animals of the World are bright, and colourful and offer a wealth of information on the diversity of animals found on our planet.

With summer reading upon us, the one I chose to highlight is Howlers and Other New World Monkeys. This book answers such questions as “Why do howlers howl?” “Which monkeys are named after monks?” “Are woolly monkeys really woolly?” and many more.

When we think of jungles, we usually think of Africa, but we must remember that much of South and Central America is covered by jungles as well. Taking a few books from the Animals of the World series OFF THE SHELF can be incredibly educational, and provide hours of enjoyment.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

This Hidden Thing by Dora Dueck

This Hidden Thing by Dora Dueck is a story that is told through the eyes of a Mennonite girl, Maria, arriving in Manitoba from Russia in 1927. Her family had been wealthy and comfortable in Russia, but now everything is gone. 3 days after arriving in Canada she is forced by her uncle to become a maid in an English household.

Maria faces many struggles, learning English, learning how to be a servant and accepting her social position, and encountering conflicts between her own values and those of her employers. After 5 years Maria must return to her family to care for her siblings after the death of her mother.

This book has been recommended by Elaine in our Winkler branch. The setting of the book, Winnipeg and Winkler, the descriptions of the landscape, and how the story goes beyond the Mennonite particulars to shed light on the universal and timeless struggles of the human spirit, all make it a great read.

Dora Dueck will be reading from and signing this book at the Winkler Library on June 29 at 7:30, and we look forward to hearing her story.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Various Flavours of Coffee by Anthony Capella

In his 2nd novel, The Various Flavours of Coffee, the author draws you into the rich and decadent world of the late 1890’s Victorian England where merchants were amassing fortunes in the trading of coffees and other exotic imports. With attention to historical accuracy, Anthony Capella describes London during this time as one of have and have-not so vividly that you can almost smell the rot in the streets, the unwashed humanity and the open markets and food stalls.

Robert, the aspiring writer-turned coffee apprentice, is an extravagant dandy who accepts an unusual job offer. Working alongside Emily, his employers’ daughter, he learns about the fine art of roasting, cupping and writing “The Guide” that describes the various flavours of coffee. This seemingly innocent task leads him into dangerous and exciting travels to Africa and back.

Through his eyes, we see how Europeans supported the slave trade and colonization of indigenous people. We also see the suffering of women in London during their struggle to gain the vote. Various Flavours of Coffee is a delicious read but is very graphic and at times disturbing. It is a like a caffeine-induced rush through an era of history that has changed the world as we know it.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

IT’S A JUNGLE IN HERE!

If you’ve visited one of the library’s branches during the past several weeks, it’s quite possible this phrase has come to mind. The libraries are gearing up for the summer reading club “Destination Jungle”. Registration begins June 24.

The book that immediately comes to mind is Rudyard Kipling’s classic The Jungle Book. The library has just purchased new copies of this book. This new publication, illustrated by award winning artist, Robert Ingpen offers the story of Mowgli, and others such as The White Seal, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, Toomai of the elephants, and others. The timeless quality of these stories is evident in the number of times they have been adapted for film. Reading a story as the author intended it, gives it an authenticity not found in other versions.

Despite Kipling’s prose being dated, its lyrical quality, transcends time. It’s social commentary and the themes of honour and courage, make this a wonderful book for reading aloud, or quiet enjoyment.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Barbary Pirates by William Dietrich

From the time I was young, I have always enjoyed adventure tales. When I saw William Dietrich’s new novel, The Barbary Pirates, I knew I had to give it a try.

The hero, Ethan Gage, is an adventurous rake who seems to have a good understanding of his vices and why he gets into trouble because of them. But that doesn’t stop him, and just makes him more likeable. In this novel, he has to stay one step ahead of a murderous pack of pirates and power seekers led by Aurora Somerset, who is without a doubt the nastiest women I have ever come across in fiction.

There are a number of Ethan Gage novels, and reading them in order is probably best, but not necessary. Dietrich’s tales are fiction, intermingled with historical events and characters. Ethan Gage feels a little like an early 19th century Indiana Jones. Fans of Clive Cussler’s fast paced fiction may want to try one of Dietrich’s novels.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Online Ebsco Databases

I heard somewhere that May is Car Maintenance month. With that in mind it seems like a good time to talk about Ebscohost’s Auto Repair Reference Center. This is an online service provided to the province’s libraries through Manitoba Libraries Consortium Inc. It is available on the South Central Regional Library website under online resources.

Auto Repair Reference Centre includes repair information for thousands of models covering 1945 to the present. The information includes hundreds of thousands of drawings, step-by-step photographs, technical service bulletins and recalls, and enhanced wiring diagrams for easy viewing and printing.

This is a great resource for vintage car enthusiasts, or the novice mechanic who needs basic information. All you need to do is type in your library card number. If you don’t have one already, just pay a visit to your local library.


Another incredibly useful Ebsco online database is Small Engine Repair Reference Centre. This is an incredibly comprehensive online tool that describes routine maintenance for ATVs, mowers, small farm tractors (including vintage tractors), generators, motorcycles, boats, outdoor power equipment, personal watercraft, snowblowers, snowmobiles, tillers and other small engines.

Small Engine Repair Reference Centre offers information on routine maintenance such as tune-ups and brake service, and extensive repairs involving engines and transmissions.

To access this or any other online database, just go to search on the library’s home page. Scroll down to online databases and click where indicated. Type in your library card number. To search the Small Engine Repair Reference Centre, you will need to know the make and model of the item you are searching.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Lumby series by Gail Fraser

Over the past decade there has been an explosion of series fiction. The library cannot hope to keep up with all of them, but staff has found some favourites. Fans of Jan Karon will love the Lumby series by Gail Fraser.

The first book in the series The Lumby Lines introduces the reader to a young married couple, Pam and Mark Walker, who give up the frantic life of the city, to what they hope is a more relaxed pace of life. They purchase a fire-ravaged old monastery with the intent of converting the historic landmark into a country inn. As might be expected, the residents of Lumby look on with suspicion. The cranky newspaper publisher is openly hostile, and the local tradespeople offer sometimes helpful, often humourous, and hapless assistance.

The town’s mascot, a plastic pink flamingo named Hank, seems to take on a life of his own, mysteriously appearing in various settings.

The Lumby series offers a wonderful glimpse into small town living and the occasional unexpected snippets of wisdom.

The Weed that strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan C. Bradley

Last year, Alan C. Bradley’s bestseller The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie introduced us to Flavia De Luce, the 10 year old chemistry whiz with a passion for poison. The book became an instant bestseller, and readers hoped that a follow-up novel would not be far behind.

Well, Flavia’s back in The weed that strings the hangman’s bag. Again, Flavia must use her quick wit, youthful charm, and her knowledge of chemistry to solve a mystery. This time she becomes involved with a travelling puppet show. When the puppeteer is electrocuted, Flavia suspects it was not accident. Flavia delves into the background of some of the interesting characters involved and finds that there is much more to the story than first thought.

Bradley is a gifted writer and his ability to pen an adult novel narrated by this charming 10 year old is amazing. Who could resist a supersleuth whose only method of transportation is her bicycle named Gladys.

Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian

Those who knew that Alice Hayward’s husband was abusive were not surprised to learn that he had killed her and then killed himself.

As often happens in these circumstances friends and acquaintances blamed themselves for not having done something to help. The pastor who had baptized Alice the morning of the day she died thought he should have been more aware of how bad the situation was. The pastor finds his faith in God slipping away after the murder. Alice’s best friend thought she should have tried harder to persuade Alice to leave her husband. Then the state’s attorney begins to suspect that Alice’s husband was murdered and finds out that Alice and her pastor were more than friends. Heather Laurent, author of a best seller about angels, arrives in town hoping to be able to help the daughter of the dead couple. Heather had lived through the murder-suicide of her own parents.

As the story unfolds we learn many secrets and are shocked by the ending.

While my sister sleeps by Barbara Delinsky

While my sister sleeps

Barbara Delinsky is a favourite author of many readers and While my sister sleeps is one book that staff have read and enjoyed.

The main character Molly Snow must come to terms with her sister Robin’s massive heart attack, and subsequent coma, and the agonizing decision over whether to continue life support. Robin is a star athlete, and has always been the favourite child and Molly’s guilt over their sibling rivalry is a major theme of the story.

While cleaning out her sister’s room Molly discovers Robin’s diaries and some of the family secrets in them. Molly risks her mother’s scorn as she works toward accomplishing her sister’s deepest desires.

Barbara Delinsky is a master storyteller and has penned another “hard to put down” novel that examines family relationships and the importance of honesty and forgiveness.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The 13th Hour by Richard Doetsch

What if you could go back in time and change a single moment? The 13th Hour by Richard Doetsch is a tantalizing thriller that explores that very question.

The story begins with the brutal murder of Nick Quinn’s wife, Julia. While being held for questioning, Nick has a brief encounter with a mysterious visitor who gives him a gold talisman, a letter and a timeline of 13 hours he can use to save his wife. As Nick travels back through each of the thirteen hours since before his wife’s murder, he stumbles on a scheme of vengeance and greed, with Julia as one of its victims. Each time he travels back, Nick becomes more and more involved in the events leading up to his wife’s death. In the race against time, he discovers truth and deceit in places he least expects them.

Don’t plan to do anything else once you start this book as it will keep you totally engrossed the whole time.

Home Tonight by Henri Nouwen

During this Lent and Easter season many readers are drawn to books of a spiritual nature. One such book, Home Tonight by Henri Nouwen is recommended by a staff person and it is this week’s recommendation.

Henri Nouwen was a professor at Harvard, a Catholic Priest and a member of L’Arche Daybreak Community in Toronto. He was also a gifted writer and communicator.

In Home Tonight Nouwen speaks about a dark time in his life and the healing that he experienced afterwards. The book was inspired by Rembrandt’s painting, ‘The return of the prodigal son’. This reader especially liked the sections at the end of each chapter called, ‘Spiritual Listening’, ‘Journaling’ and ‘Communing with God’ in which the reader is encouraged to take steps to connect personally with the unconditional love of their Creator.

Home Tonight is a practical guide for the inner journey home.

World of the Weird by Tracey Turner

School break can be a challenging time for families. All branches of the South Central Regional Library have just added many new titles to the children’s collection and any child is sure to find something entertaining to engross themselves in.

One new book that is certain to catch the eye of a young reader is World of the Weird by Tracey Turner. Boys especially love reading about things that are weird, gross, or unexplained. This book has it all, UFOs, ghostly tales, revolting science, weird facts, superstitions and much much more. Each strange phenomenon has 2 pages of text and pictures, so it is easy for everyone, including reluctant readers to enjoy the book.

If you’re trying to decide how to entertain children during the school break, spend a few minutes at your local library and your kids are sure to find something that will satisfy their unique interests and personalities.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Farmer Joe baby-sits by Nancy Wilcox Richards

All branches of the library are currently accepting registrations for our Pre-school Storytime. This program is open to children 3 ½ to 5 years who are not yet in kindergarten. Please call your local branch for details or to register your child.

Time spent reading with children is very special indeed. One of my favourite children’s picture books is Farmer Joe Baby-Sits by Nancy Wilcox Richards. Farmer Joe must baby-sit little Jennifer for the afternoon. Jennifer’s mother arrives with everything she think Farmer Joe will need to keep the child occupied for the afternoon. Well, poor Farmer Joe doesn’t know what to do with it, so he takes Emily on a tour of his farm and they have a wonderful adventure together.

Frankly this wonderful poignant book appeals to adults just as much as it does to children. It reminds us that time spent in the company of children can be very special, and how much children enjoy our attention.

Izzy, Willy-Nilly, by Cynthia Voight

Something from our “oldies but goodies” file. A favourite for one staff person is Izzy, Willy-nilly by Cynthia Voigt. Izzy is fifteen, and she’s an average, nice girl. When Izzy is invited to a post-game party by Marco, a popular senior on the football team, she is delighted to accept. Marco has too much to drink at the party, and when he drives Izzy home, he loses control of the car and crashes into a tree. Marco escapes with a few cuts and bruises; Izzy has a broken left leg, and her right leg is so badly damaged that it has to be amputated.

Suddenly, Izzy is no longer Izzy the nice girl; now she is Izzy the cripple. No one, looks at her the same way anymore. Family members are angry and feel helpless. This is an excellent young adult novel that remains relevant, even though the book was published in 1987. The somewhat slow pace of the book echoes the slowness of recovery, both from the trauma of amputation, and from the depression that almost brings Izzy down.

How Izzy copes with the loss of her leg and the loss of who she has been until this point, and slowly becomes her own person, makes for poignant, beautiful reading.

Random Passage by Bernice Morgan

Library shelves hold many treasures, and we encourage browsers to spend some time exploring books that are not new. A staff person recently enjoyed the book Random Passage by Bernice Morgan. This 1992 best selling first novel by Newfoundland writer Bernice Morgan was made into a TV miniseries.

It recounts the story of the Andrews family and their move from England to Newfoundland in the early part of the 18th century. The story of their struggle to survive on the rugged, magnificent coast of Newfoundland, along with two other families and assisted by the enigmatic Thomas Hutchins is a riveting read. Livelihood for many of Newfoundland’s outport communities was based on the cod fishing industry and seal hunt, and this book gives the reader a better understanding of their way of life.

This is an important part of Canadian history told in a way that makes it very real and immediate and also a lot of fun to read.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Lost Boy by Brent W. Jeffs

February is I Love to Read Month, and library staff has enjoyed letting you know about some of the books we loved during the past year. A loyal nonfiction reader has recommended Lost Boy, by Brent W. Jeffs. He is the nephew of Warren Jeffs, the polygamy leader of the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints, a splinter group of the Mormon Church. Brent Jeffs was repeatedly abused by church prophet Warren Jeffs.

Brent Jeffs was the first of the Lost Boys to bring civil and criminal charges against Warren Jeffs, who raped and abused many young boys in the polygamous sect. The book explores Warren Jeff’s rise to power and control. Brent Jeffs’ fight against the man who victimized him was a powerful personal victory.

The memoir is disturbing, thrilling, and inspiring. There is an openness in Jeffs’ brash style as he struggles for understanding. Ultimately he triumphs, managing to face his fears and help secure his attacker’s arrest and conviction.

The Children's Book by A. S. Byatt

February is I Love To Read month, and all month we are talking about books which we at the library branches have loved to read. A Winkler staff member has recommended The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt. This book spent many weeks on bestseller lists.

Set in the late 1800s against a backdrop of coal mines and child labour, this book spans a quarter century including the aftermath of World War I. The main character, Olive, her husband and their many children live the privileged life of the upper class. Olive writes “Grimm” like fantasy tales for each of her children. She is a charming, successful author, and ultimately the financial support of the family. Sprinkled through are anarchists, financiers, Fabians, puppeteers, New Women, suffragettes, soldiers and philanderers.

The interjection of fairy tales with the life events of these interesting characters gives this book a very rich appeal, and we highly recommend it.

Worth any price by Lisa Kleypas

February is I Love to Read month, and with Valentines Day falling this month, we must recommend a romance. A staff person enjoyed the historical romance Worth Any Price by Lisa Kleypas. It is the last book in the “Bow Street Runner “Series.

The setting is London 1839. The bow street runner Nick Gentry is a complicated man with a tortured history and Charlotte Howard is a woman hiding from a man who would ruin her. The plot includes a secret marriage of convenience, a shunned daughter, angry parents, and a cruel jilted lover.

This book has a fast paced plot, interesting characters, heated love scenes, and a great English setting. Many readers enjoy Historical Romance because they are light reading and it fit into a busy lifestyle. All branches of the library hold an assortment of romances, from historical to futuristic and fantasy.

Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child

February is I Love to Read month, and all month long I’ll be letting you know what books library staff love to read. Today’s recommendation comes from the Morden Branch, and I think I can safely say that Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels are favourites among the staff of that branch.

Gone tomorrow, the 13th book in the Jack Reacher series is another page turner. Reacher left home at 18, graduated from West Point, spent 13 years in the army, was promoted, and demoted, and has become a drifter after leaving the army. He could be described as a knight without armour, an action hero, and a lone wolf. He is intelligent, enigmatic, tough, and no stranger to trouble.

In Gone Tomorrow, our hero finds himself in the New York subway. He suspects that a fellow passenger is a suicide bomber. The choices he makes triggers a chain of events that find him embroiled in a conflict involving the Defence dept., the FBI, and Al-quaeda.

As usual, Lee Child does not disappoint and his loyal fans are eagerly awaiting the next Jack Reacher novel.

The Wayfinders by Wade Davis

Our society views the extinction of plant and animal life with alarm, however, we seem to ignore the rate at which ancient cultures are disappearing from the planet. As they disappear, so does much of the knowledge which they have accumulated over the millennia. The Wayfinders by Canadian Ethno-botanist, Wade Davis, addresses this matter.

Davis points out that of the 7,000 languages spoken today half are not being taught to children. Along with the language goes the social, cultural and intellectual heritage. An example is the Polynesian people who, while on the ocean, guide themselves by noticing thousands of details about the sky, stars, and water.

Davis discusses the role that location plays in culture and that destroying the geography also destroys the culture. He also notes how European culture has negatively impacted on so many others.

This book reminds the reader that the path we have chosen is not the only one, and other voices matter in today’s global village.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Our Library by Eve Bunting

Family Literacy celebrations at all branches of the library take place on Tues. Jan. 26 at 7:00. Children, parents, & grandparents – all are welcome to come to the library in their pajamas, listen to bedtime stories read by guest readers, and have a bedtime snack.

One of my favourite children’s books from the past year has been Our Library by Eve Bunting. This is a beautifully illustrated story that gets at the heart of what reading and libraries mean to families. The animal children in the story are afraid of losing their library and take it upon themselves to fundraise and move the library (literally). But first they must convince grumpy old beaver that his land would be a perfect location, and when he learns that this will be a place where he can go and read to his grandson his mind is made up.

This book is sentimental, somewhat nostalgic, inspiring, and absolutely perfect for sharing.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Early this month we learned of the dire predictions being made regarding the expected increase in the number of Alzheimers cases. It points to the importance of research and awareness. January is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. Lisa Genova’s hugely successful novel, Still Alice, offers a glimpse into the heartbreak of early onset Alzheimer’s Disease.

Alice Howland is happily married, has 3 grown children, a house on the cape and is a distinguished Harvard professor. She begins to notice her failing memory and clouded thinking. She receives the devastating diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s Disease. Alice struggles to maintain her dignity and independence as her sense of self is stripped away.

This book has been described as heartbreaking and terrifying, and an inspired must-read.

The Olympics

The Olympic Torch Relay is making its way across the country and people are getting more and more excited about the upcoming Olympics. The library has purchased new books for those who would like to delve deeper into the history of Canadian athletes at the Winter Olympic games.

A new book, just in, is Ralph Mellanby’s book, Let the Games Begin: my life with Olympians, hockey heroes and other good sports. Mellanby enjoys a long and distinguished career as the executive producer for Hockey Night in Canada, and worked on the coverage of 13 Olympic Games. This book is filled with stories of the situations he’s covered, and of the people he’s known and worked with. It’s an up close and personal look at many of sports greatest figures.

Another possibility is Canadians in the Winter Olympics by J. Alexander Poulton. This book is full of inspiring stories from some of Canada’s greatest Olympians of the past and those who seek Olympic glory in 2010.

These are just 2 of the many books on the library shelves that cover the Olympic games, past and present.