I love that our library will use any school break as an excuse to put on a bunch of free programs for kids – or, more than they usually do, because they always have free programs for kids. Spring break is next week, and those in the Edmonton area should go to the website or check out the program guide, and read on for my picks.
I have a contentious relationship with kiddie events and programs. Working parents of younger-than-school-age children probably know where I’m going with this: the vast majority of programs for preschool age kids, with the notable exception of swimming lessons, are offered on weekday mornings or afternoons. That means you don’t get to do mommy-and-me yoga, and your child doesn’t get as many opportunities to learn with you outside the house.
Kim Bates, a Digital Literacy Librarian at Edmonton Public Library, has heard the same complaint from parents. “We have had customers request more evening and weekend programming and as a result we have been scheduling more of our programs at those times with the working parents in mind.”
May I just say thank you? Here are a few spring break highlights that’ll work for you if you work nine to five (or 8:15-4:45, in my case.)
One Book, One Break, Many Adventures! Lumberjanes Vol. 1
I loved last year’s One Book One Edmonton project so much that I wrote about it twice. One Book One Break is a child-friendly take on the concept: make a book available to everyone in Edmonton, and give them chances to talk about it and win prizes.
There’s been so much buzz about comic book Lumberjanes on book blogs and Booktube that I wasn’t sure if it was for kids. Kim says Lumberjanes appeals to a “wide demographic” but cautions that “some preschoolers have found the creatures in the book a bit scary.” My four year old cannot abide Goosebumps reruns, so I’m going to take Kim’s advice and check it out myself before I share it with him. It sounds like it’ll be perfect for my six year old.
Everyone in Edmonton can download a copy of Lumberjanes on Hoopla, and the library is ordering extra physical copies. Each day during Spring Break, libraries will have a new activity sheet that doubles as an entry to prizes which include an iPad Mini 4 and an autographed edition of Lumberjanes to the Max Edition Volume 1. Details at epl.ca/onebookonebreak.
Working parent friendly dates: this one’s on your own time, and many branches are open till 9pm weeknights, so there’s plenty of time to get your entries in.
Minecraft at the library is nothing new, but given the popularity (bordering on obsession in my house), three branches will set aside a Minecraft-dedicated computer for the whole week of Spring Break. I asked Kim if kids get as crazy as mine do when they’re playing Minecraft at the library, and she said that while there generally aren’t fights over the computers, “kids do often like to talk to each other as they play so I do expect plenty of strategizing and cheering!” My kids could use this good example. Oh, the horror of being a one-iPad household!
Working parent friendly dates: Drop in during opening hours at Stanley A. Milner, Woodcroft or Sprucewood branches.
Lego at the Library
Lego without risk of stepping on a rogue brick at 6:00 am? Sign me up. For kids 6-12.
Working parent friendly dates:
- Saturday March 26, 2:00 pm at Capilano
- Saturday April 2, 3:00 pm at Meadows
- Saturday April 2, 3:00 pm at Woodcroft
Minion Movie Marathon
The downtown library is showing all three Minion movies (does anyone even call them Despicable Me?) over Spring Break. Yeah, you might own them at home, but sometimes a change of venue works wonders. All ages.
Working parent friendly dates: Saturday April 2, 2:00 pm (The Minion Movie) at Stanley A. Milner
Great for younger kids, as long as they can sit still for more than a minute at a time. Look, we’ve all been that parent dragging their kids out of a library program, there’s no shame. All ages.
Working parent friendly dates:
- Saturday April 2, 2:00 pm at Calder
- Saturday April 2, 2:00 pm and Sunday April 3, 2:00 pm at Castle Downs
- Sunday April 3, 2:00 pm at Clareview
- Saturday March 26, 1:30 pm and 3:00 pm at Lois Hole
- Saturday March 26, 2:00 pm at Stanley A. Milner
- Saturday April 2, 2:00 pm and 3:00 pm at Whitemud Crossing
Bonus (and shameless self-promotion; I work for the city and helped develop this): If you’re looking for more kids’ programming in Edmonton, check out myrecguide.ca and create a custom guide to City of Edmonton registered programs – swimming lessons, daycamps, arts, yoga, kickboxing, and much more. You only see the ages, interests, and locations that work for you. And, there are more and more options for us working parents on evening and weekends. We’re working on it!
This post was inspired by, but not paid for by, Edmonton Public Library. I mean… they’re a library. What did you expect? They do lend me free books though.
The Alberta Readers’ Choice Award is exactly what it sounds like: we vote, an Alberta author wins $10,000. With two weeks left, things are heating up; each night this week, Edmonton Public Library is hosting a Twitter chat dedicated to one of the short-listed titles. Check out #AlbertaReadersChoice at 7:00 pm Monday through Friday this week and vote here. Here are my mini-reviews, in order of Twitter chat appearance.
I wasn’t interested in this book when it came out. I thought the title meant *Come* Back, as in, “don’t call it a.” When I realized it meant Come *Back* as in, a grieving father calling to a long lost son, and when I saw Wiebe speak about losing his own son to suicide 30 years ago, everything changed. I had to read this book.
This story moves between Hal’s stream of consciousness and his son’s journals. Hal’s mental state is a little disjointed to begin with (aren’t ours all) and as he follows his son’s thoughts through the months before his suicide, he has moments of clarity, but there’s no tidy ending here. Hal is reading the journals, finally, because, impossibly, he saw long-dead Gabe walking down the street, and slipping away into the crowd, just out of reach. It’s an irresistible premise and the story didn’t go where I thought it would, at all.
This book is challenging and tragic and confusing. There are plenty of Edmonton references and landmarks for the local reader. I’m just glad I finally discovered this prolific Edmonton author.
I had a lot of problems with this book and couldn’t finish. I was interested in the premise, which, like Wiebe’s, is semi-autobiographical: a boy comes of age in the Dutch East Indies during the WWII Japanese occupation. He becomes his mother’s and siblings’ protector in a Japanese concentration camp. Brouwer’s father endured something similar.
However. I knew I was in trouble when I realized it was an “Inspirational” novel and that “Inspirational” was even a genre. I gave it a chance… I mean, I read novels with religious overtones all the time. David Adams Richards is one of my favourite authors, after all. But the writing is just not good. It’s repetitive, and the foreshadowing is constant and clunky. The story was hard to take, too. Insta-love is bad enough, but when it’s a ten year old, it strains credulity. I noticed some grammatical oddities as I read, and when I came across a paragraph that was clearly copied and pasted incorrectly (a thought ends mid-sentence and is repeated two lines later,) I was done.
This is the last hold I’m waiting for at the library. I’ve heard good things, though this is not a book I would pick up on my own. If I can squeeze it in before Aug. 31, I will!
You could describe this as Pilgrimage by Diana Davidson for the YA set. Even the snow-white covers are similar. But rather than Davidson’s realism, Boorman has a very interesting premise for her story of settlers and Metis getting through the Alberta winter: An alternative history in which colonization in the West is a failure. The few surviving Metis, English settlers, and French settlers retreat to a fortified village and are completely cut off from the rest of the world for nearly 100 years.
I’ve noticed that a lot of YA is told from a single, first-person perspective. I find it limits the story. I could have done with the perspective of a village elder or a someone of a different caste within the village. As it stands, we have Emmeline, beautiful and kind, but marked by a physical disability and by a family secret. She will find out the truth about the outside world. She will expose the corruption of the village Elders. She will also kiss the cute boy.
I liked the writing and the premise a lot. I didn’t like the old-timey language that was charming at first, but inconsistent and a bit much later on. The story was at times very compelling and original, and at times bogged down in YA cliches. A bit uneven, but I’m glad I read it, and would recommend to fans of YA/historical/dystopian fiction.
I’ve seen Bishop speak about this book so many times, I feel like I’ve read it. I’m only 10% through, and so far, I do recognize a few of the anecdotes, but his style is very conversational and smart, so it is far from boring. I’m not much for object biographies (yet) and I’m not much for the exaltation of paper and ink over ereaders (I’m reading this on my ereader!) so it’s hard to say where this one will land. Bishop’s slick though – he was the only one handing out swag at the author event, and they were Ink-branded temporary tattoos. That’s brilliant!
I won’t vote till I finish at least one more of the books, but here’s my early pick:
Yes, I chose the literary fiction. Shocking!
How did I call myself “bookish” for so many years, when I’d never shopped a library book sale? Okay, I never call myself bookish, but I have felt a vague sense of incompleteness. I finally went a few weeks ago with my colleague and cube-neighbour Christina. Have I mentioned that I have a bookish office mate? She’s into YA, which is perfect, because we didn’t fight over books.
1. Eleanor Rigby by Douglas Coupland: Because it’s Douglas Coupland. I admit I’m finding his Roots clothing/daily slogan thing a little tiring, but, I will always love him.
2. The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews: Because All My Puny Sorrows is way to hyped for me to read it right now, and my dad’s wife recommended it to me. We’re visiting them next month, so it’ll give us something non-controversial to talk about!
3. In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje: Because I love him.
4. Away by Jane Urquhart: Because Urquart created a playlist for the book, which is kind of my thing. Prosperina by Martha Wainright made me cry.
5. When God was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman: Because I like the title.
6. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt: Because everyone I know who’s read it orders me to read it. Immediately.
7. The Toss of a Lemon by Padma Viswanathan: Because of this review by friend-of-Reading-in-Bed Jennifer Quist.
8. We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates: Because she is coming to Edmonton in November and I need something for her to sign. Also she has the best/worst/most absurd Twitter persona.
9. Icefields by Thomas Wharton (not pictured): Classic CanLit. The librarian who sold it was so excited for me.
The Life Lessons
1. Like many a newbie, I imagine, I went in all “I’ll just pick up a few books. One or two.” No. You’ll get ten or more. I put a few back because I had nowhere to put them. Come prepared. The true pros bring those little pull-along grocery carts. They’ve really made advances in the design of those since I delivered flyers in the 90s. I saw some that looked more like luggage.
2. If you see a book you might be interested in, grab it. If you change your mind, you can put it back. I hesitated over The Signature of All Things in pristine hardcover, went back maybe three minutes later, gone.
3. You don’t have to go early. The line ups are for the DVDs.
4. Plan a separate day for kids’ stuff. There were so many books and dvds, but I didn’t have time or carrying capacity after I’d been through the adult stuff. Sorry kids!
5. Go more than once. They continually update the stock.I went twice in the same day and saw some of the same people on round two. Those were the pros with the grocery carts. They are hardcore.
The Edmonton Public Library’s next Books 2 Buy event is on August 15-17. I’ll be there!
For good measure, here is my neighbour’s book haul, which resides in her filing cabinet because she couldn’t carry it home. Yeah, I think we’ll get along just fine.
I know those “what you think X is, what X actually is” memes are played out and dumb so forgive me:
What book clubs want you to think goes on at book club: Ladies, libations, and literary discussion. Basically this guy’s wet dream.
What you think actually goes on at book club: a bunch of 30-something ladies drink wine, eat snacks, and pretend to have read the book for a few minutes before moving on to more important subjects, like, I dunno, shoes or something.
What actually goes on at book club: I have no idea. I’ve never been to one.
I know traditional book clubs are still a thing. Several people I know (some in real life!) love them. But for those of you who are too lazy to clean your house and/or have trouble interacting with people IRL, there are SO MANY other options. In no particular order:
The idea for this post came courtesy of blogger Kristen Finlay, who came up with #YegBookClub. It’s very simple, which is why is works so well: each month, an Edmonton-authored book is chosen and a date and time for the chat is set. Read the book, use the hashtag during the chat, and connect with other readers. You can still drink wine and no one has to know that you’re wearing your stayin’-in leggings.
The inaugural #yegbookclub pick was Todd Babiak’s Come Barbarians. I found out about it too late and hadn’t read the book but had fun participating anyway. This will be a regular event for me from now on. I was inspired to start the book that same night (it’s fantastic so far.)
Oh, and the author participated, AND gave a hint about the next book in the series:
Novellas in November continues! If you’re new to this concept, well, it’s pretty self-explanatory. Previous posts:
I was catching up on The Moonstone this week so I only finished one measly novella. And I vlogged! May I just say that I hate the word vlog?
Memories of my Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Reminiscent of Love in the Time of Cholera but ickier due to 75 year age difference between the romantic leads, I’m not sure what to make of this book. Familiar themes of unrequited love, the passage of time, mortality, and love as disease and cure are here. Certain passages are so beautiful that they sweep away the reservations, but the reservations creep back in.
It’s not just that this 90 year old man falls in love and, well, sexually assaults a 15 girl old girl. It’s that the girl is an object, a thing to be projected on; to be named, and watched, and dressed and posed like a doll, and rejected and pined for. I am at once relived that the “Maestro” doesn’t consummate his passion (I don’t think he did, anyway) and disappointed that the girl is so loved but never gets to participate in any way other than as a passive… not even observer, because her eyes are always closed.
Someone suggested to me that this would not be a good choice for your first Marquez and I agree. Read Cholera first, then give this a try. Here are some quotes so you may judge for yourself.
Real talk, Marquez style:
I discovered that my obsession for having each thing in the right place, each subject at the right time, each word in the right style, was not the well-deserved reward of an ordered mind but just the opposite: a complete system of pretense invented by me to hide the disorder of my nature. I discovered that I am not disciplined out of virtue but as a reaction to my negligence, that I appear generous in order to conceal my meanness, that I pass myself off as prudent because I am evil-minded, that I am conciliatory in order not to succumb to my repressed rage, that I am punctual only to hide how little I care about other people’s time.
Not sure if this romantic or cheesy as hell:
Blood circulated through her veins with the fluidity of a song that branched off into the most hidden areas of her body and returned to her heart, purified by love. Before I left at dawn I drew the lines of her hand on a piece of paper and gave it to Diva Sahibí for a reading so I could know her soul.
Why you can’t resist those “OMG remember the 90s” Buzzfeed lists:
The adolescents of my generation, greedy for life, forgot in body and soul about their hopes for the future until reality taught them that tomorrow was not what they had dreamed, and they discovered nostalgia.
Vlog: Novellas in November Library Haul
One thing about having kids is you are almost never alone in your house, which makes vlogging rather difficult. I found myself alone for a couple hours on Friday and rather than do something rational like sleep , I decide to do this. Thanks for the inspiration, Fourth Street Review!
As always, thank you to Novellas in November host Another Book Blog! Chat with us at #NovNov on Twitter.
Last Sunday I escaped the house and family (kids were napping, don’t pity my husband too much) to talk about blogs with other adults at a Writer’s Corner event. I love Riverbend Library, but usually I’m there wrangling a three year old while wearing a one year old, so sitting in my own chair with only my self to keep track of was BLISS.
Our host, Omar Mouallem, is the Writer in Residence for Edmonton Public Libraries. The panelists are two very successful bloggers, Sharon Yeo of Only Here for the Food and Dave Cournoyer of Daveberta. Neither of these blogs are in my regular rotation, but, I have a lot of respect for them. They are passionate and knowledgeable about their subjects, and they both just seem genuine. They don’t seem to be in it for the social media fame (such as it is in #yeg) or the ad revenue or to get a book deal (not that there is anything wrong with that!) but just really want to write and have an audience for their writing.
The audience of 20 included many familiar faces… most of them familiar from their Twitter avis. The discussion was about “finding your niche” in the blogosphere, but there were plenty of general tips. Here are my favourite pieces of advice:
- Blog post titles should be straightforward. Puns and wordplay don’t come across very well like they might in print. This makes me sad, because I love coming up with clever titles. I don’t always succeed, as this post proves, but a good title helps focus my thoughts and set a tone for the piece. But Dave is absolutely right. I see it in my own stats. Clever titles don’t draw people in. My most popular post to date is one of my Reading Roundups. Nothing fancy there. Which leads me to my next lesson…
- People love lists. Sharon posts a Food Notes list of updates and news every Monday. It helps her be consistent, and provides a valuable service for her readers. I see this on my blog too; it’s not my meandering essays on David Foster Wallace that are getting page views, it’s the Reading Roundup lists and the reviews. The basics.
- The crowd was quite divided on whether links should open in a new tab or replace the existing tab. Things almost got ugly. I think we reached a consensus on opening links in a new window.
- Blog rolls are old fashioned. Does anyone even call it a blog roll? I have a list of blogs and websites, but it’s not always that up to date. Dave admitted he hadn’t looked at his list in a while… or ever, since setting it up.
- Dave suggested using categories and tags to drive traffic to your posts, and that having the tags directly under the title makes it easy for the reader to see what your post is about. If love this one. I often get a little cheeky with my tags, and I can’t run the risk that someone doesn’t see my handiwork! Now if I can get WordPress to comply…
It was a great event. And did I mention it’s FREE? Writer’s Corner happens on the last Sunday of the month, and will be at Stanley A. Milner library from now on. The next one is about travel writing. One of you who actually travels should hit that up…