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Major publisher, Simon & Schuster, recently announced plans for Salaam Reads, a children's imprint that will be the first to focus on Muslim stories and characters.
With growing movements like #WeNeedDiverseBooks, this comes as a much needed progression for a large publishing house. This will be the first major imprint of its kind. Executive editor Zareen Jaffery commented:
"Our aim with the Salaam Reads imprint is in part to provide fun and compelling books for Muslim children, but we also intend for these books to be entertaining and enriching for a larger non-Muslim audience.”
In a diverse city like Toronto, this is a welcome development as we find more and young readers searching to relate to characters in the books they're reading. Consider the impact and popularity of Ms. Marvel, the first Pakistani-American Muslim female teenager to headline her own Marvel series. Not only are titles featuring Muslim characters compelling for a growing audience, but they sell too. This is in direct contradiction with some of the general notions that diverse books don't necessarily make money for publishers because people don't buy them.
Canadian children's author, Rukhsana Khan, who is best known for picture books including Big Red Lollipop and King for a Day, is one who is excited about these upcoming changes. It took nearly a decade for Khan to find a publisher to take on her first title, Bedtime Ba-a-a-lk. “To write it as a Muslim story changes the whole perspective," Khan notes in a recent Macleans article. "It goes outside the mainstream. People in publishing are open-minded, but I think they worried about the audience.”
Kamala Khan as Ms. Marvel - just your average teenaged, gum-popping superhero. No big deal.
Toronto Public Library consistently works to include diverse and representative books for all ages and abilities in its collection. However, with a large-scale publisher on board, it definitely makes our job selecting high-quality items a little smoother. Here are some examples of fiction titles we already carry focusing on Muslim characters and experiences.
In The Language of Miracles
Rajia Hassib, 2015
Jennifer Zobair, 2013
Willow G. Wilson, 2014-2015
Ayad Akhtar, 2012
Safia Fazlul, 2012
Amy Waldman, 2011
Pearl Abraham, 2010
Boy vs. Girl
Na'íma bint Robert, 2010
Sheba Karim, 2009
Nadine Dajani, 2007
I Dream of Microwaves
Imad Rahman, 2004
The Garden of My Imaan
Farhana Zia, 2013
Rukhsana Khan, 2008
Nabeel's New Pants: an Eid Tale
Fawzia Gilani-Williams, 2010
My First Ramadan
Karen Katz, 2007
The Best Eid Ever
Asma Mobin-Uddin, 2007
The Hundredth Name
Shulamith Levey Oppenheim, 1995
Salaam Reads has several children's books already in the works. Based on a New York Times article, some of the upcoming titles include:
Salam Alaikum, a picture book based on a song by the British teen pop singer Harris J.
Musa, Moises, Mo and Kevin, a picture book about four kindergarten friends who learn about one another’s holiday traditions.
The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand by Karuna Riazi, about a 12-year-old Bangladeshi-American who sets out to save her brother from a supernatural board game.
Yo Soy Muslim, a picture book by the poet Mark Gonzales.
Salaam Reads is set to officially launch its first list in 2017.
Alyson really liked The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld for its unusual, lyrical, fairytale-like way of describing a terrible place.
An unnamed death-row inmate narrates a story about life on death row in a rundown prison he calls "the enchanted place", focusing on a woman researching the life of another prisoner in an attempt to commute his sentence even though the man wants to die. The author herself has worked as a death-row investigator.
At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen
• Large Print
• Talking Book (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)
While her husband, Ellis, and his friend try to find the Loch Ness monster in an attempt to win back his father's good graces, Maddie is left on her own in World War II-era Scotland.
The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler
• Large Print
• Talking Book (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)
Simon is a librarian, who receives a mysterious old book from a bookseller. The book tells the story of a traveling circus and appears to be connected to his family. Does this book hold family secrets? Why do so many women in his family drown and could his sister be next?
March. Book Two written by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin; art by Nate Powell
The second volume in the civil rights leader/congressman's graphic book memoir covers the Freedom Rides and March on Washington. It's an incredibly moving series.
The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
A lovely YA novel about a group of teens who are not among the "chosen ones". While other high school students in town are fighting with or falling in love with vampires or trying to save the world from the undead, Mike and his friends are just trying to finish high school with their friendships and dignity intact.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
A haunting story about two sisters living in a town where everyone hates them since four members of their family died of arsenic poisoning. Merricat, Constance and Uncle Julian coast along trying to avoid the town folks until a visit from cousin Charles changes everything.
This is the first part of two part blog on scary stories. This blog post will focus on classic scary stories while next week’s blog will focus on newer and still scary books. This time of year people are gearing up for scary parties, kids are getting ready to go trick or treating and some of us like to curl up with a scary book. Classic scary stories are a great place to start as these are the inspiration for today’s horror storytellers.
This original telling of the monster created by science and lightening was published in 1818. This was Shelley’s most famous work and has served as inspiration for movies, books, graphic novels and cartoons and hopefully will continue to do so. Frankenstein has been scaring children and adults for years and is considered a classic monster along with the Mummy and Dracula.
This is considered to be, by some, the real story of Count Dracula, without any teen angst in sight. Written in the form of letters, this story recounts dark interactions with this vampiric nobleman, deep in the forests of Transylvania.This straight forward piece of horror fiction has inspired authors such as Anne Rice and L.J. Smith who have continued to create vampires to scare readers.
Poe wrote horror fiction in serial form and experienced some success while alive. Like many, his genius was better appreciated with his death and many of stories continue to appear in popular culture today. His stories such as “The Raven”, “The Fall of the House of Usher” and “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” continue to be popular, especially around this time of year. His tales were full of mystery and macabre moments to make readers uncomfortable.
This tale of a headless horseman seeking a replacement for his own lost head scares children every Halloween. From the same author of Rip Van Winkle, this tale of bullying, ghosts and fear set in Sleepy Hallow, 1790. A lovelorn teacher hopes to win the hand of a young maiden, but another is determined to marry her and get her fortune.
H.P. Lovecraft was a recluse who lived in Rhode Island and produced horror stories that were appreciated after his death. Lovecraft did not spend a lot of time in school, but rather at home with his mother, aunts and grandfather who encouraged reading. The precocious child devoured stories and then learned to tell his own scary stories in pulp magazines. He never achieved much commercial success in his lifetime, but he has many fans who appreciate his contributions to horror.
From the man who brought us Treasure Island we get this scary tale examining the duality of man. A respectable doctor by day and an evil monster by night terrorizing Edinburgh through a chemical formula. Both personalities begin to fight with each other and Jekyll is forced to remove himself more and more from society causing great concerns among his friends.
By this time of year you may be looking to get away for a while and gazing at travel sites looking for ideas of warmer climates to visit. Perhaps you are looking to visit some warm islands or a warm country. Or perhaps you are thinking of crossing an ocean for a trip. Or maybe you do not wish to take such a trip, but would like to imagine yourself doing such a thing. We here at the Toronto Public Library can help with all these scenarios. We carry travel guides to help decide where to go, we have an online language learning program besides language learning kits, and we have travelogues for those who prefer to travel from the comfort of their arm chairs. Whether it’s to plan a trip for 2015 or read of someone else’s travels, please check out the amazing materials on offer here at the Toronto Public Library.
Great books to help decide where and when to venture into the world, just keep in mind that it is always best to contact places directly for current prices, opening hours and in case there are renovations.
Learn from a local where to stay, where to eat, where to surf and what to avoid.
Discover the land that brought Tapas to the world, fine wines and world class museums.
Touted as an inexpensive warm getaway Costa Rica has beautiful forest, volcanoes and ecologically protected areas to explore.
These are eBooks that you can download onto your devices and use without looking like a tourist always looking through a book, but a local simply using their phone. This is an area that is growing in popularity and as such the books are being better designed for easier use.
See where the Tea Party took place, visit Fenway Park and the museums.
Learn when to visit the Louvre, watch traffic from the top of the Arc de Triomphe and where to get the best pain au chocolat.
It never hurts to learn a few keys phrases before visiting a new country.
Using your computer at home you can learn key phrases in languages such as French or Pirate.
To help you learn how to do more than order a beer in Spanish.
Once you land, you can impress your business counterparts with your new found understanding of their language.
You can always travel the world through other people's eyes safely from home with no security to get through.
This French Canadian cartoonist has written a number of books on his travels throughout the world and provides humour, insight and travel tips for the reader.
What does it feel like to have travelled for twenty years, then return home. Is it still home?
This group of essays come from a non-European point of view from men and women from the 18th to 20th centuries. These essays show how the world looked to some.
Whether you are looking for a get away or just dreaming about one the Toronto Public Library has many tools to help you realize that dream.
As a fan of Doctor Who, I am looking forward to the Christmas special airing this Christmas Day on the Space channel. This has become an annual tradition in my house as it is for Whovians (fans of Doctor Who) the world over. For the unintiated this series is a popular British television show that ran from 1963 to 1989 and came back to television in 2005 and continues to be popular today. The series is on it's 13th doctor and each fan has their favourite Doctor.
To help gear up for the special, Toronto Public Library has a substantial number of materials for fans to discover in book form, short stories, DVD, eBooks, eAudiobooks, graphic novels and some books that can only be discovered at the Merril Collection which is housed in Lillian H. Smith branch. I will highlight a few from each format and I encourage fans, new and faithful, to discover the full extent of our collections.
This is Douglas Adams completing the story of Shada, the episode that never made it to air. This is based on Adams' script.
To get the gossip on the man who has saved the Earth countless times from his closest friends and letters, this is a must read.
If you are keen to add to your knowledge of the Doctor then this book will provide details relating to the Doctor's enemies.
Short stories brought to you by the leading sci fi authors of the era.
This is last year's Christmas special which marked the 800th episode of the series and was a critically acclaimed episode.
This is the 2012 Christmas special with some old favourites returning for this special.
The Doctor and Donna run around time and space encountering Pompeii, Agatha Christie and the universe's largest library.
This is a novelization of an old episode and introduces the Silurians, a reptilian race who used to dominate the Earth.
This novelization features the Doctor against the Master, the only other Time Lord in existence.
This is a novelization of the Doctor again battling those he fought in the Great Time War, the Daleks who seek to simply exterminate with great prejudice.
This graphic novel features all 11 doctors in their own stories.
This is fan favourite crossover of two popular franchises, Star Trek and Doctor Who facing off against the Borg and Cybermen.
This is the novelization of an 1985 episode where the Doctor must consider saving others at the cost of of one of his lives.
This book provides an indepth look at a year on the show through the eyes of the head writer and executive producer, Russell T. Davies.
This is an original story based on the Doctor that provides the reader with a "what if" reading experience.
Please check out some of the recommendations and as the Doctor would say, "Geronimo!"
This volume collects the first nine issues of Hellblazer.
Includes the special miniseries "The Horrorist."
Constantine becomes embroiled in the machinations of a secret society.
Constantine hunts a serial killer while wrestling with his own inner demons.
Compiles various origin stories plus other out-of-sequence issues.
If you find these stories not to your taste, keep in mind that many other writers and artists have taken on the iconic character, among them Garth Ennis and Mike Carey. Try out their work, or check out the first volume of the new Constantine comics, which replaced the Hellblazer title early last year. And remember — the show may air on primetime network television, but the horror comic series is suggested for adults. Reader discretion is advised!
This past weekend was Fan Expo in Toronto, our version of comic con and more and more people are attending every year including women. Women are starting to read more comics and GN (Graphic Novels) and new readers could be wondering, where do I start? Here are a few suggestions for the new reader in mind. Wonder Woman is being redone by DC Comics as a part of the new 52 series, and the story lines are strong and you can visit Wonder Woman’s facebook page here. This Amazonian princess is up to date with social media.
Bill Willingham’s series Fables continues to entertain audiences with his mix of modern day troubles with our childhood fairy tale characters. He is releasing Fables: The deluxe edition Book 9 in October. You may want to start with the first in the series and work up to the current one as the series will not only be wrapping in early 2015, but is being scouted for television or movie opportunities.
The Walking Dead is a super popular television show and it started as a comic. It is up to volume 20 and is gorier than the version on television. I would suggest checking out the comic to see why it is so popular and compare it to the television show.
I feel I should include at least one manga and I suggest Fairy Tail. This manga is easier to read than some and is light in nature making a great entryway to the genre. We have all the issues up to volume 39, so if you love it, there is a lot to read. This series has a huge following with a popular wiki here.
I hope these suggestions find you trying new books and checking out more of our amazing collection here at TPL. If you have any favourites that you would recommend to new readers, please let me know.
Today is the 70th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy, a hard-won victory for Allied forces during the Second World War. Veterans, leaders, dignataries and civilians across the globe gather to commemorate and honour the fallen, both at small ceremonies and international summits. Three hundred and forty Canadians died on June 6, 1944, fighting on the battlefield which came to be called Juno Beach. Here are five books focusing on our nation's heroes and the sacrifices made on that historic day.
D-Day Juno Beach: Canada's 24 Hours of Destiny by Lance Goddard
Part illustrated chronicle and part interview transcript, this book records a momentous battle hour by fierce, fatiguing hour.
Fields of Fire: The Canadians in Normandy by Terry Copp
A military historian takes a closer look at the campaign and analyzes different strategies and tactics.
Juno: Canadians at D-Day by Ted Barris
An ensemble retelling of the battle, constructed from hundreds of interviews with veterans, from soldiers who fought on the Normandy shore to sailors who operated the guns of the surrounding ships.
Recently a customer asked me where the library kept its noir graphic novels. Although I love film noir and have read my share of noir fiction, I was unaware that the genre existed in graphic novels.
It makes sense. Graphic novels are the perfect place to capture the smoke, shadows and betrayal that are typical of the genre.
These are a few of the noir graphic novels in the library system:
100 Bullets: First Shot, Last Call by Brian Azzarello, writer; Eduardo Risso, artist; Grant Goleash, colorist; Clem Robins, letterer
Individuals who have been wronged are offered a chance for revenge in this anthology series.
Blacksad written by Juan Díaz Canales; illustrated by Juanjo Guarnido; lettering by Studio Cutie
Cynical private eye John Blacksad is the toughest cat in town in this hardboiled series set in 1950s America.
Dark Entries by Ian Rankin, art by Werther Dell'Edera, letters by Clem Robbins
Occult detective John Constantine investigates when supernatural events occur on the set of a reality show.
Dark Rain: a New Orleans Story by Mat Johnson, writer; Simon Gane, artist; Lee Loughridge, grey tones & colour; Pat Brousseau, letterer
Two ex-cons attempt to rob a New Orleans bank as the city struggles to survive Hurricane Katrina.
Fatale: Death Chases Me by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips
Nicholas Lash meets and falls in love with a beautiful, mysterious woman with a secret in a book that will appeal to fans of HP Lovecraft and Raymond Chandler.
A History of Violence by John Wagner; art by Vince Locke; lettering by Bob Lappan
A small town diner owner finds his carefully constructed identity threatened after he thwarts a robbery and becomes a media celebrity.
Noche Roja by Simon Oliver, writer; Jason Latour, art; Clem Robins, letterer
Nothing is as it appears in this tale of an ex-cop who is hired to track down a missing young woman near the Mexico/US border.
Richard Stark's Parker: The Hunter adapted and illustrated by Darwyn Cooke
Professional thief Parker is set on revenge in this adaptation of a classic novel written by Donald Westlake using the name Richard Stark.
Scarlet by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev; Chris Eliopoulous, letterer
Scarlet's innocence is shattered when corrupt police officers kill her boyfriend. Fueled by grief, she begins a violent mission to avenge his death.
West Coast Blues adapted by Jacques Tardi from the novel by Jean-Patrick Manchette
A man is pursued by assassins after he helps a man who has been injured in a car accident.
Ask staff for additional selections.