March was a big month for Veronica Roth!
Not only did Insurgent make its successful debut at the box office, but HarperCollins and Veronica Roth have also announced that they have signed a two book contract!
I am super excited about this and I cannot wait to hear more about the world she is creating. This is excellent news for fans of her work as we can rest assured that we will get at least two more novels from this best selling author.
Set to be published in 2017 and 2018 respectively, the yet to be named duology will focus on the themes of redemption and revenge!
Read more about the announcement here
It's going to be a celebration of fandom. Share your fanfiction and fanart, vote for your OTP, watch your fav episodes, and debate which fandom is the best. We will cap it all off with a cosplay contest! Prize for best cosplay costume and debate winners. Call the branch to register 416-395-5980.
In the meantime, join us THIS SATURDAY MARCH 28 for a Costume Making Workshop. from 3-4:30. Perfect for if you aren't sure how where to start for your cosplay costume or how to go about making one.
Some supplies and lots of tips will be provided, but bring anything you know you would like to use.
This Book Is Gay by James Dawson
Reviewed by Editorial Youth Advisory Group member Anupya
“Anyway, who gets to decide what’s “normal” and what isn’t? What a horrid, excluding word that is.” -James Dawson
If you’ve pictured what it would be like if Tumblr published a book, this is it. Littered with 1D references, Doctor Who praise and Glee snark - This Book is Gay delivers a truthful rendition of the complicated spectrum of sexuality and gender, told from the voice of a cool, older brother.
Written by London-based writer James Dawson, This Book is Gay is a collection of facts, ideas and stories he collected of more than 300 LGBT* people who shared their stories. Yes, there is an asterisk after LGBT -- to symbolize everyone else that cannot possibly fit into one short abbreviation. Dawson is well informed on the fluidity and the wide range of sexual and gender identities. He conducted an international survey in July 2013 as research for the book and the result is the diversity of the range of voices and opinions gathered. Furthermore, it is established from the get-go that you don’t have to be gay to enjoy and relate to the book –- This Book is Gay is for everyone.
The very first page of the book is a hyper-simplified explanation of each identity; the one page that should be thrust in the faces of homophobic people and ignorant countries around the world. Almost like a handbook on “how-to-gay”, the pages are packed with fun illustrations that inform and get you thinking. With a page-long description for each sexuality, the book tackles the very interesting topic of the science behind why people are gay. It then proceeds to fight and break down common queer stereotypes, lists counter-arguments to religious homophobic sects, the countries you should avoid due to their lack of support of LGBT* communities and some international charities that can help people with these issues. Dawson makes sure the book gives real, useful advice such as -- where to find a romantic/sexual partner, the types of non-heterosexual sex and how each one works, STIs and their consequences –- all the while cracking you up with his wit and sarcasm.
This Book is Gay is the kind of book whose pages should be plastered around middle and high schools. To all the adults, you will read the book and wish it were published when you probably most needed it. To all the teenagers today, I say -- run. Run -- don't walk -- to a library or your nearest bookstore and read This Book is Gay.
Circle Monday April 20, 2015 on your calendars. That is the day North York Central Library will be hosting a visit from award winning author Kenneth Oppel. He will be discussing his latest novel, The Boundless. Please note that space is limited and tickets can be reserved through event*brite. Doors open at 6pm. Unclaimed reservations will be released at 6:50pm.
About The Boundless: Will Everett has always wished for an adventure. Little does he know his started the moment he boarded The Boundless. The longest, most glamorous locomotive in the world, it stretches more than eleven kilometres long and pulls an astounding 987 cars: passenger cars, shooting galleries, gardens, an onboard swimming pool, cinema and much more. But its maiden voyage won't be a smooth ride for Will. After witnessing a murder during a station stop, he barely makes it back onto the train (with a running leap!), then must work his way from the caboose forward to his father in first class - with the murderer and his cronies on his tail. Luckily, a clever and nimble friend is perfecting her act in The Boundless's circus car, and there the real thrill ride begins. Sasquatches, bog-dwelling hags and illusions abound in this outsized adventure aboard the Titanic of trains!
Praise for The Boundless: "Oppel's imagination and sense of adventure never disappoint, and readers should thrill to this rousing tale as it barrels ahead at full speed." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)
No Parking at the End Times by Bryan Bliss
Reviewed by Editorial Youth Advisory Group member Kathleen
When writing a review about a book I disliked, I feel a lot more pressure to justify my choices than when writing a review about a book that I loved. I’m imagining Bryan Bliss reading this review, and feeling compelled to write me an angry review of my review -– because that would be what I would be tempted to do if I were in that situation. I’m also imagining the hordes of readers who absolutely adored No Parking at the End Times parking their cars in front of my house… Let’s not perpetuate the cycle of violence.
No Parking at the End Times is the story of twin teenagers Abigail and Aaron, whose family has moved out of their house because of extreme financial difficulties, instead living in a van and driving across the country to join the End Times church. Abigail and Aaron’s father has bought into the dream of the church, which is clearly a fraud forcing its followers to give up their assets and their values. Throughout the entire novel, Abigail has an internal conflict between staying loyal to her parents, and leaving them because she can no longer bear their mistakes.
I think that losing faith in one’s parents is a universal and relevant problem, and I was not satisfied with the way this novel explored that issue. Aaron and Abigail barely communicate their points of view to their parents, thinking a lot on their own, but giving their parents vague replies whenever an opportunity for discussion arises. They give up on their parents before even trying to influence them; they are resigned to the idea that their parents are immutable in their beliefs and that there is no point in talking to them. They are too passive and spend much of the novel brooding in silence, and their solution is to sneak away. Perhaps their parents would not have listened to them – this is certainly demonstrated at the climax of the novel – but I was irritated by the twins’ submissive attitude and lack of tenacity.
It is tempting to say that their behaviour could be justified by how flawed their parents are. Their father puts the church over his family’s well-being, while their mother seems to follow along blindly. Nevertheless, no matter how flawed our parents are, we should try our best never to give up on them. The discovery of our parents’ flaws is not reason enough to stop listening to them; every human being also has his or her strengths.
David Arnold's Mosquitoland not only a laugh out loud, fun read, but it deals identifies some very serious and often under discussed issues.
In the novel, Mim Malone has been transplanted from Ohio to Mississippi to live with her Dad and his new wife after her parents’ divorce. When she learns that her mother is suffering from a mystery disease, Mim flees and boards a Greyhound bus, using a P.O. Box number to try and find and reconnect with her sick mother. However, Mim is dealing with her own issues as well including mental illness, compulsions and secret blindness in one eye.
I have decided that Mim is one of my very favourite protagonists. I realize that is a strong statement, but I just adored her complicated, unapologetic and spunky personality and the cunning wit with which she addresses people and even forms her own thoughts and letters. Mim describes herself as an anomaly. We aren't talking a Tris-from-Divergent type anomaly here. This is more in the traditional sense of the word.
" ...even today, inasmuch as an anomaly is a thing that deviates from what is standard, normal, or expected, I can think of no more appropriate word to describe myself. I hate lakes but love the ocean. I hate ketchup but love everything else a tomato makes. I would like to read a book and go to a party (I want it all baby)."
Do you see why I dig her?
Mosquitoland is an adventurous tale as the challenges and characters that Mim meets along the way are quirky and memorable.
The heavy issues touched upon in the story include divorce, suicide and mental illness. I found it particularly interesting to read about mental illness in a young adult from a first person perspective. Mim's head truly is a fascinating place. As a part of her illness, Mim often feels compulsions. When stressed or tense, she finds comfort in her "war paint". This is how she refers to painting a series of lines and symbols on her face with her mother's old lipstick.
David Arnold has received some backlash about Mim's “war paint" ritual in the book. The argument is that the idea of war paint is problematic because Mim (having identified herself in Mosquitoland as part Cherokee) applies her “war paint" when she feels she needs to get through something difficult. This may perpetuate stereotypical ideas of Indians on the warpath.
Personally, I did not notice any negative messages or ideas regarding Indians within the story. I did not find Mim's “war paint" ritual offensive or culturally insensitive at all.
I definitely recommend Mosquitoland for a funny, unique, thought provoking adventure of a read. Once you read it, weigh in on the controversy and share your thoughts in the comments.
The Law of Loving Others by Kate Axelrod
Reviewed by Editorial Youth Advisory Group member Ishanee
The Law of Loving Others is a quick read with an interesting perspective. Emma is a boarding school student who comes home to discover that her mother is in the middle of a psychotic episode. What makes it worse is that she finds out her mother has always had mental health issues, but her parents have been hiding it from her for her whole life, and she never even noticed. Emma’s world is turned upside down when she comes home for winter break and has to cast aside her plans of hanging with her best friends and her boyfriend. Instead, she has to navigate visits to the psychiatric facility to see her mother as well as turbulent relationships with those close to her as she struggles to find her way.
This novel drew me in because of the premise of a young woman struggling with mental illness in the family. I found it interesting because it presented a lot of the issues with the way mental health is discussed in the media. Emma had to struggle with her friends not really understanding what she and her family were going through, which represents the experiences of many in similar situations. The parts with Emma visiting her mother and realizing she was not the same mom she knew felt real and emotional. However, other parts of the book lacked depth and, in my opinion, didn’t harvest the full potential this storyline offered. Emma’s narrative and decisions seemed to revolve around her boyfriend, and while the relationship was a typical teenage relationship, I found it a little hard to get behind Emma when she seemed more concerned with whether or not her boyfriend would still love her if she also got schizophrenia, rather than the other implications of developing the illness. I also found some of the other characters a little flat, and found it a bit difficult to connect with them.
I do think this novel did a good job of trying to explore mental health issues, which isn’t common in YA novels. Kate Axelrod did a good job of portraying schizophrenia through the eyes of a family member. I like that she portrayed it as an illness that requires treatment, but properly managed, can enable an individual to live a relatively typical life. While the novel lacks significant character development or growth, it offers thought-provoking themes. Emma’s voice comes across as a scared, lost young girl who is losing her grip on normalcy, which is an honest and powerful theme. Overall, a quick read that leaves you with food for thought.
Here's hoping you've had a great March Break and that you enjoyed these writing tips culled from writer Emily Pohl-Weary's blog that she kept while she was the library's 2014 electronic writer in residence.
Before we get to this BRAND NEW tip from Emily (that will hopefully inspire you to write something to submit to Young Voices magazine for a chance to GET PUBLISHED) here's a message from Emily about a great opportunity for writers:
HEY TEEN WRITERS! – Before I get to tip #7, I want to tell you about this seriously timely writing club called TRUE LIES that I’m coordinating downtown this spring (thanks to the Koffler Centre). It’s all about the fine line between reality and fiction (you know, the place where everyone’s Facebook profiles reside) and it’s on Wednesday evenings from 5-7.
You can register now (for free) over here.
Writing Tip #7: Don't Compare Yourself to Other Writers
Okay. We’ve all done it. We’ve read some super incredible mind-blowing book that took our breath away with its language, and transported us to another world, another life, another time... Two books that had this impact on me early in my career were The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende and Mama Day by Gloria Naylor. They’re both breathtaking, heartbreaking works.
But our responses to great books don’t always stop there. We put them away and completely lose it, by thinking something negative like, “There’s just no way I could write anything this perfect. I should probably give up now.”
Seriously, just stop comparing yourself to other writers. Right now. To other people, really. This advice will help, not only in terms of your writing, but your entire life and sense of self-worth. Plus, it’s pointless and a waste of good mental space.
It’s true that you could probably never write that particular book. But why would you want to? It’s been done. You just slid it back onto your bookshelf.
However, if you try hard enough, you might be able to write an even better book. It just needs to be in your voice, with your style, and through your experiential lens. And right about now, the Canadian literary scene could use more infusions of original, diverse voices reflecting their realities.
As writers, we must continually fight discouragement by transforming the automatic habit of comparing our work (and deciding it’s subpar) into a feeling of being inspired by the other superb piece of writing. A perfectly evocative turn of phrase or way of seeing a situation should lift you up with the possibilities and give you a new plateau to strive for in your own work.
Maybe when you catch yourself doing the comparison thing, you can immediately think, “Hey, now, negative brain. This is a great example of the way I want people to feel when they read my writing: blown-away and in awe by its power. Guess I better get to work.”
If you can do this, you’ll be less likely to catapult yourself into a deep pit of despair… and more likely to want to keep writing (see Tip #1).
If you can do this, you’ll be less likely to catapult yourself into a deep pit of despair… and more likely to want to keep writing (see Tip #1).
After that record cold in February, especially when we shattered records on February 23rd, which began at -21.2C, we're ready for some warmer weather! And hopefully the vernal equinox will be just the thing to usher in those balmy breezes, and help things stay above freezing! (The weather forecast suggests we may still have a few cold days ahead, though!)
Even with those frigid temperatures, it may have been a better winter than the last one! Remember that ice storm we had in December 2013?
The vernal or spring equinox falls on or around March 21st every year. The equinox is the first day of spring, and it's when we have equal lengths of day and night. And today, readers, is that day!
To celebrate, here are a few books with "Spring" in the title! Just because warmer temperatures require a little silliness.
And if you're interested in gardening, we have some excellent gardening programs happening this spring, too!
Personally, I'm looking forward to our next astronomical day of note... the summer solstice!