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International Day of Persons with Disabilities: Stories of Self-Discovery and Transformation

December 3, 2016 | Winona | Comments (0)

International Day of Persons with Disabilities is celebrated around the world every year on December 3rd. This year, International Day of Persons with Disabilities (aka #IDPD2016) coincides with the tenth anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Convention is designed to promote, protect, and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and freedoms by all people with disabilities, and to promote their inherent dignity. 

IDPD logo - multicoloured circle with the words International Day Persons with Disabilities 3 December

According to the World Health Organization, at least 10% of the world's population, about 650 million people, live with some form of disability. Here in Canada the most recent statistics indicate that 3.8 million adults ages 15 to 64 self-identify as disabled. That's almost 1 in 10 of us. 

Photograph of boy, Scott Connor, smiling and holding a toy truck with his prosthetic arm  Photograph of Scott Conner as a young man, seated, smiling at the camera, with his mother Sandi standing on one side of him and brother Adam on the other

Left: Scott Conner in 1985, age 7. Right: Scott Connor in 1995, age 17, with his mother and brother. Scott lost his right arm at the Metro Zoo. You can read his story in newspaper articles from the time in the online Toronto Star Historical Newspaper Archive or in microfilm at the Library's Toronto Star Newspaper Centre.

 Photographs courtesy Toronto Star Archives. 


In celebration of International Day of Persons with Disabilities, here is a selection of memoirs by people whose life experiences inspire me and make me think about what I can do to help remove barriers to inclusion, promote accessibility and equity, and work towards transformative change, in some way, on this day and every day.

Book cover for Look Me in the Eye by John Elder Robison shows a close-up photograph of a boy with his eyes closed tight and his lips pressed tightly together

Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's by John Elder Robison

Alternate formats: Audiobook | eAudiobook | eBook | Large Print | Talking Book CD (restricted to print disabled patrons)

Ever since he was young, John Robison longed to connect with other people, but by the time he was a teenager, his odd habits—an inclination to blurt out non sequiturs, avoid eye contact, dismantle radios, and dig five-foot holes (and stick his younger brother, Augusten Burroughs, in them)—had earned him the label “social deviant.” It was not until he was forty that he was diagnosed with a form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome. That understanding transformed the way he saw himself—and the world. A born storyteller, Robison has written a moving, darkly funny memoir about a life that has taken him from developing exploding guitars for KISS to building a family of his own. It’s a strange, sly, indelible account—sometimes alien yet always deeply human. (Publisher's Description.)

Read an excerpt on the publisher's website.


Book cover of Mean Little Deaf Queer shows a photo of a young child standing on a patch of grass in a dirt field, with houses in the distance, wearing a cowboy hat and boots and holding a guitar

Mean Little Deaf Queer: A Memoir by Terry Galloway

In 1959, the year Terry Galloway turned nine, the voices of everyone she loved began to disappear. No one yet knew that an experimental antibiotic given to her mother had wreaked havoc on her fetal nervous system, eventually causing her to go deaf. As a self-proclaimed "child freak," she acted out her fury with her boxy hearing aids and Coke-bottle glasses by faking her own drowning at a camp for crippled children. Ever since that first real-life performance, Galloway has used theatre, whether onstage or off, to defy and transcend her reality. With disarming candour, she writes about her mental breakdowns, her queer identity, and living in a silent, quirky world populated by unforgettable characters. What could have been a bitter litany of complaint is instead an unexpectedly hilarious and affecting take on life. (Publisher's description.)

Read an excerpt on the publisher's website.


Book cover for Mermaid by Eileen Cronin shows a photograph of a young woman on a beach looking over her sunglasses at the viewer

Mermaid: A Memoir of Resilience by Eileen Cronin

Alternate format: eBook

At the age of three, Eileen Cronin first realized that only she did not have legs. Her boisterous Catholic family accepted her situation as “God’s will,” treating her no differently than her ten siblings, as she “squiddled” through their 1960s Cincinnati home. But starting school, even wearing prosthetics, Cronin had to brave bullying and embarrassing questions. Thanks to her older brother’s coaching, she handled a classmate’s playground taunts with a smack from her lunchbox. As a teen, thrilled when boys asked her out, she was confused about what sexuality meant for her. She felt most comfortable and happiest relaxing and skinny dipping with her girlfriends, imagining herself “an elusive mermaid.” The cause of her disability remained taboo, however, even as she looked toward the future and the possibility of her own family.

In later years, as her mother battled mental illness and denied having taken the drug thalidomide—known to cause birth defects—Cronin felt apart from her family. After the death of a close brother, she turned to alcohol. Eventually, however, she found the strength to set out on her own, volunteering at hospitals and earning a PhD in clinical psychology.

Reflecting with humor and grace on her youth, search for love, and quest for answers, Cronin spins a shimmering story of self-discovery and transformation. (Publisher's description.)

Read an excerpt on The Daily Beast website.


Book cover for Nujeen by Nujeen Mustafa shows a young woman looking at the viewer and smiling

Nujeen: One Girl's Incredible Journey from War-torn Syria in a Wheelchair by Nujeen Mustafa (with Christina Lamb)

Alternate formats: eAudiobook | eBook

Confined to a wheelchair because of her cerebral palsy and denied formal schooling in Syria because of her illness, Nujeen taught herself English by watching American soap operas. When her small town became the epicenter of the brutal fight between ISIS militants and US-backed Kurdish troops in 2014, she and her family were forced to flee.

Despite her physical limitations, Nujeen embarked on the arduous trek to safety and a new life. The grueling sixteen-month odyssey by foot, boat, and bus took her across Turkey and the Mediterranean to Greece, through Macedonia to Serbia and Hungary, and finally, to Germany. Yet, in spite of the tremendous physical hardship she endured, Nujeen's extraordinary optimism never wavered. Refusing to give in to despair or see herself as a passive victim, she kept her head high. As she told a BBC reporter, "You should fight to get what you want in this world."

Nujeen's positivity and resolve infuses this unforgettable story of one young woman determined to make a better life for herself. Told by acclaimed British foreign correspondent Christina Lamb, Nujeen is a unique and powerful memoir that gives voice to the Syrian refugee crisis, helping us to understand that the world must change—and offering the inspiration to make that change reality. (Publisher's description.)

Read an excerpt on the Overdrive eBook platform.


Book cover for The Point of Vanishing by Howard Axelrod shows a black and white photo of one eye with the rest of the face obscured by white tree branches and three large orange and yellow dots

The Point of Vanishing: A Memoir of Two Years in Solitude by Howard Axelrod

Alternate format: eBook

After losing vision in one eye during his senior year at Harvard, Howard Axelrod found himself in a world where nothing was solid, where the smooth veneer of reality had been shattered, and where the distance between how people saw him and how he saw himself had widened into a gulf. Five years later, heartbroken from a love affair in Italy and desperate for a sense of orientation, Axelrod retreated to a small house in the Vermont woods. Miles from the nearest neighbor, he lived with barely any human contact or communication for two years. Whether tending to the woodstove or snow-shoeing through the forest, he devoted his energies to learning to see again—to paying attention and to rediscovering what really matters. A gorgeous memoir of solitude in an age of superficial connection, this book probes the profoundly human questions of perception, time, identity, and meaning. (Publisher's Description.)

Read an excerpt on the CBC website.


Book cover for The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida is an illustration of abstract flowers and butterflies in shades of blue, white, and yellow, radiating out in a mandala-like pattern

The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism by Naoki Higashida

Alternate format: eBook

Naoki Higashida was only a middle-schooler when he began to write The Reason I Jump. Autistic and with very low verbal fluency, Naoki used an alphabet grid to painstakingly spell out his answers to the questions he imagines others most often wonder about him: why do you talk so loud? Is it true you hate being touched? Would you like to be normal? The result is an inspiring, attitude-transforming book that will be embraced by anyone interested in understanding their fellow human beings, and by parents, caregivers, teachers, and friends of autistic children. Naoki examines issues as diverse and complex as self-harm, perceptions of time and beauty, and the challenges of communication, and in doing so, discredits the popular belief that autistic people are anti-social loners who lack empathy. (Publisher's description.)

Read an excerpt from the introduction on the book's website.


The Library works hard to be accessible to everyone. Find out more about our accessible branches, services, and collections.


TRL Program Calendar December 2016

November 30, 2016 | Katherine | Comments (0)

Drop in for free films, bring the kids for Once Upon a Time fun, or join a book club.

Click on each image to enlarge, or download  the December 2016 @ TRL as a pdf file.

For a full list of programs to browse or search, visit our Programs, Classes and Exhibits page.

December 1 December 2 December 3 December 4 December 5 December 6

200 Years of the Brontes

November 29, 2016 | Fiona | Comments (2)

The Bronte Parsonage Museum at Haworth, Yorkshire, England

If you are a fan of the Brontes, as am I, then you have plenty of opportunity to celebrate over the next four years as Bronte 200 is underway.  It is a five year program celebrating the bicentenaries of the births of Charlotte in 2016, Branwell in 2017, Emily in 2019 and Anne in 2020 as well as the bicentennial of Patrick, their father, being invited to become Parson in Haworth, Yorkshire (2019).

Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë are the authors of some of the best loved books in the English language. Charlotte's novel Jane Eyre (1847), Emily's Wuthering Heights (1847), and Anne's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848) were written over 150 years ago and yet still have great appeal today.


   Wutheringheights Jane Eyre Tenantofwildfell Vilette

Why the ongoing fascination with this literary family?  Their isolated upbringing in the Parsonage at Haworth, the closeness of the siblings, the brilliant writing that has endured and the tragedy of their young deaths all contribute to the allure. 

And when you have tired of reading and rereading these classics, there is a whole world of prequels, sequels and retellings.


Bronte Prequels, Sequels and Spin-Offs


   EyreAffair Takeoff1 Takeoff2 Takeoff4




If you want all the details about life in the Parsonage and the road to literary greatness then try reading some of the many biographies.


   Bio Bio2jpg Bio3 Bioanne

Film Adaptations

Then there are the adaptations on film - what better activity is there on a winter's day than settling in to watch a period drama set on the windswept moors!


JaneEyredvd WutheringheightsdvdJaneEyredvd2 Wutheringheightsdvd2


Of course, for Bronte fans the ultimate destination is the Bronte Parsonage Museum in Haworth. However, if you can't travel that far, then perhaps a visit to New York to see the Morgan Library & Museum Exhibit is possible. On view is the famous painting of the sisters by Branwell (he painted himself out), manuscripts, drawings and a petite dress worn by Charlotte who was under 5 feet tall.


The Bronte sisters, painted by their brother Branwell in 1834


Enjoy the next four years of Bronte!



Movember Reading List: Six Moustaches in Books

November 25, 2016 | Winona | Comments (2)

It's almost the end of Movember, the annual November campaign from the Movember Foundation, when people around the world grow moustaches to help raise awareness and money for men's health issues. 

In celebration of Movember, and in appreciation of all you moustache aficionados out there, please enjoy this selection of six fictional moustaches in books:

Hercule Poirot's Moustache

Poirot and Me by David Suchet

The moustache belonging to Agatha Christie's famous fictional detective, Hercule Poirot, is a lot like the man himself: impeccable, fastidious, and quite distinctive. You may have seen this moustache on television as worn by actor David Suchet, who played Poirot on the long-running television series, and described it in his 2014 memoir as "the best-looking waxed moustache in England." When Poirot first appeared in print in 1920 his moustache was described like so:

"Poirot was an extraordinary looking little man. He was hardly more than five feet, four inches, but carried himself with great dignity. His head was exactly the shape of an egg, and he always perched it a little on one side. His moustache was very stiff and military. Even if everything on his face was covered, the tips of moustache and the pink-tipped nose would be visible."

- The Mysterious Affair at Styles  

Asterix's Moustache

Where's Asterix

Moustaches abound in the village of invincible Gauls from the beloved comic book series by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo. Everyone's got one: our hero Asterix (bushy and yellow); his best friend Obelix (bushy and red); even loyal canine companion Dogmatix (bushy and white). When the Romans send a spy, Caligula Minus, to infiltrate the village and determine the secret of the Gauls' superhuman strength, he gets a moustache too (bushy and orange, and fake). But the spy's identity is revealed when his fake moustache is pulled off during the course of a traditional dance:

Asterix: "What on Earth is this?"         

Caligula Minus: "'s a detachable moustache! The latest thing from Lutetia!"

Asterix: "I don't think you're a Gaul at all! I believe you're a ROMAN SPY! GET HIM!"

- Asterix the Gaul 

Ignatius J. Reilly's Moustache

A Confederacy of Dunces

The unlikely hero of John Kennedy Toole's absurd and hilarious Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, published eleven years after the author's suicide, is Ignatius J. Reilly. Ignatius is a slovenly faux-intellectual buffoon with delusions of grandeur and an aversion to leaving his home town of New Orleans (where a statue of him now stands). We meet Ignatius, and his moustache, on the first page of the book: 

"A green hunting cap squeezed the top of the fleshy balloon of a head. The green earflaps, full of large ears and uncut hair and the fine bristles that grew in the ears themselves, stuck out on either side like turn signals indicating two directions at once. Full, pursed lips protruded beneath the bushy black moustache and, at their corners, sank into little folds filled with disapproval and potato chip crumbs." 

- A Confederacy of Dunces 

Colonel Aureliano Buendia's Moustache

One Hundred Years of Solitude

Early in Gabriel García Márquez's story of seven generations in the fictional Buendia family, a magical realist masterpiece, Colonel Aureliano Buendia adopts a moustache that signals his growing militarism:

"About that time he had begun to cultivate the black mustache with waxed tips and the somewhat stentorian voice that would characterise him in the war."

Later, when the Colonel has withdrawn from fighting, his moustache serves to remind us of the futility of war:

“They had allowed him to shave. The thick mustache with twisted ends accentuated the sharp angles of his cheekbones. He looked paler to Ursula than when he had left, a little taller, and more solitary than ever.”

- One Hundred Years of Solitude


Captain Hook's Moustache

Peter and the Starcatchers
Captain Hook is a classic character of children's literature; a sinister pirate and archenemy of the boy who never grew up, Peter Pan, invented by J.M. Barrie, and re-invented by Disney and others. His moustache, like the rest of him, is fabulously terrifying:

"He was a strikingly unpleasant figure, with a pockmarked face and a large red nose, like a prize turnip, glued to his face. His long black hair, greasy from years without washing, stained the shoulders of the red uniform coat he'd stolen from a Navy sailor on the high seas, just before escorting that wretched soul over the side of the ship. He had dark, deep set, piercingly black eyes, overshadowed by eyebrows so bushy that he had to brush them away to see through the glass. But his most prominent feature was the thick growth of hair on his upper lip, long and black, lovingly maintained, measuring nearly a foot between its waxed and pointed tips. It was this feature that gave him his name, the most feared name on the sea: Black Stache."

- Peter and the Starcatchers 

The Fu Manchu

Dr. Fu Manchu

Dr. Fu Manchu's moustache is so iconic that it is the origin of an entire style of facial hair: the Fu Manchu. Actually, the evil criminal mastermind himself only wears the Fu Manchu in the film and television versions of the books; in Sax Rohmer's pulp fiction classics Dr. Fu Manchu doesn't have a moustache at all. But both the supervillain and his namesake moustache have become synonymous with racist portrayals of Asian, specifically Chinese, villain stereotypes in the West throughout most of the twentieth century:

"Imagine a person, tall, lean and feline, high-shouldered, with a brow like Shakespeare and a face like Satan, a close-shaven skull, and long, magnetic eyes of the true cat-green... Imagine that awful being, and you have a mental picture of Dr. Fu Manchu, the yellow peril incarnate in one man."

- The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu

For a critical analysis of racist depictions of Asian identities in popular culture, check out:


This is a revised version of a previously published Toronto Public Library blog post.

Legal Tips from CLEO: Your Rights When Taking Your Car in for Repair

November 16, 2016 | Katherine | Comments (0)

This guest post is one in a series providing practical, easy to understand legal information from CLEO (Community Legal Information Ontario / Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario).

CLEO logo

While most garages are trustworthy, many people have understandable worries about being overcharged, getting shoddy work, or being charged for unnecessary repairs.

This blog post outlines some of the special rules in Ontario's Consumer Protection Act that people should know about when they take their car in for repairs.

Where the rules apply

These rules apply to anyone who is paid to do work on a motor vehicle in Ontario.

"Motor vehicle" includes cars, vans, trucks, motorcycles and motor-assisted bicycles, but not snowmobiles or farm tractors.

The rules apply to garages, dealerships and specialized shops such as lube, brake, muffler and body shops –- any place that works on or repairs motor vehicles.


Before starting any work, the repair shop must offer to provide a detailed estimate. The customer can decide not to get an estimate, but only if he or she and the shop agree on a maximum amount that the shop can charge.

The shop can't charge the customer anything unless they give the customer either an estimate or the customer and the shop agree on a maximum amount for the cost of the repairs. And the shop can't do any work that the customer didn't authorize.

Replacement parts

The shop must give the customer any parts that were replaced, unless the customer agreed in advance that they didn't want them.


Repair shops must post signs that:

• list customers' rights under the Consumer Protection Act
• explain how the shop calculates charges
• say if anyone at the shop is paid on commission

The bill

When the work is done, the shop must give the customer a detailed bill with an exact description of the work done. The description must include:

• a list of any parts they installed, and
• whether the parts are new, used, or reconditioned.

The bill must show the price of each part, the total charge for labour and how it's calculated, and a list of any other charges.

The total charged can't be more than the maximum that the customer and the shop agreed to, or 10% over the estimated amount if there was an estimate.


The law says that all the work done must be of a "reasonably acceptable quality".

Repair shops must also give a warranty of at least 90 days or 5,000 kilometres, whichever comes first.

This warranty must cover all new and reconditioned parts, and the labour to replace them. It doesn't have to cover fluids, lights, tires, batteries or any parts that weren't covered by the manufacturer's warranty when the vehicle was new.

What to do if there's a problem

A customer who isn't happy with the repairs or the quality of the work should first ask the shop to correct the problem.

If the shop won't do that, the customer should try getting a written report from a different repair shop saying that the job wasn't done properly. This might help convince the first shop to correct the problem.

If the problem still can’t be resolved, or if the repair shop isn't following the rules in the Consumer Protection Act, the customer can complain to the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services.

The Ministry has a complaint form that can be downloaded or filled out online.

What NOT to do if there's a problem

An unsatisfied customer may be tempted to just refuse to pay the bill. But that's usually not a good idea.

If the shop followed the rules about estimates and got the customer's authorization to do the work, they can keep the vehicle if the bill isn't paid. And after 60 days, they can even sell the vehicle.

For safer options, see CLEO's Motor vehicle repairs.

Additional resources at Toronto Public Library

The annotated Ontario Consumer Protection Act, latest edition

The art of complaining: Canada's consumer action guide print or eBook

Chilton's Auto Repair  Database of do it yourself repair manuals, maintenance schedules, service bulletins. Available anywhere.  Sign in with your library card.

What the "experts" may not tell you about car repair

Popular mechanics car owner's companion: 101 things you need to know


Once Upon a Time: Cinderella

November 11, 2016 | Nicole | Comments (0)

Our new exhibit, Once Upon a Time: Fairy Tales from the Osborne Collection is now open in the Toronto Reference Library's TD Gallery. Admission is free and the gallery is open to all during regular library hours. It runs until January 15, 2017. 

The exhibit celebrates the enduring appeal of “classic” stories from the western fairy tale tradition. Let's take a sneak peak at one of the best-loved fairy tales featured in the exhibit: Cinderella.

Cinderella Display Case in Once upon a time_TDGallery

The exhibit features just a small selection of the many, many versions of Cinderella found in the Osborne collection. They range in formats and style: illustrated books, toys, games, wallpaper, advertising, modest chapbooks to deluxe illustrated gift books, pop-ups and spoofs. 

Look closely and you will also spot one of Cinderella's glass slippers! The slipper is on loan from the Bata Shoe Museum


The History of Cinderella, or, The Glass Slipper The History of Cinderella, or, The Glass Slipper: Embellished with [Coloured] Engravings, London: R. Miller, [ca. 1820]

Here is Cinderella doing the dishes. Will she get to go to the ball? Not if her cruel stepmother and stepsisters have their way. Perhaps with the help of her fairy godmother, who waves her magic wand…

"Yè Xiàn" in China, "Cenerentola" in Italy, "Rashin Coatie" in Scotland — this “rags to riches” tale is known around the world. The most famous version of the tale is Charles Perrault’s "Cinderella" first published in Histoires ou Contes du Temps Passé in 1697. In Perrault's version, the girl is helped by a fairy godmother, who transforms pumpkin into coach, mice into horses, lizards into footmen, and rat into coachman. 


The Sleeping Beauty: And Other Fairy Tales from the Old French, Retold by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, 1863-1944, Illustrated by Edmund Dulac, 1882-1953, London: Hodder & Stoughton, [1910]

Golden age artist Edmund Dulac illustrated deluxe volumes of fairy tales and other classics in the decade leading up to the First World War. His fairy godmother is an ethereal beauty with sparkling, jewel-encrusted hair. Her dress is lit with fireflies, butterflies and glowworms.

From Cinderella Retold by CS Evans

 From Cinderella, retold by C.S. Evans, 1883-1944, illustrated by Arthur Rackham, 1867-1939, London: William Heinemann, 1919

In his silhouette-style illustration, Arthur Rackham captures the key moment when fairy godmother transforms pumpkin into coach and Cinderella’s rags into ball gown.


Cinderella, or, The Little Glass Slipper. A free translation from the French of Charles Perrault

Reprinted with the permission of Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, from Cinderella by Marcia Brown. Copyright © 1954 Marcia Brown; copyright renewed © 1982 Marcia Brown. All rights reserved.

Also on display is this enchanting work in watercolour, ink and crayon. It is the original dust jacket and endpaper design for Marcia Brown's enchanting 1954 edition of Cinderella, or, The Little Glass Slipper.


Cinderella Toy Theatre

Cinderella toy theatre, ca. 1890 to 1910

In this Cinderella-themed toy theatre, the child turns the cranks at the top of the wooden frame to advance or reverse the story. Toy theatres (also known as “juvenile drama”) were very popular in the 19th century. They were collected by adults and children, often as souvenirs of current plays being performed on London stages.

Cinderella, or, The Little Glass Slipper Writing Sheet                                              

Cinderella, or, The Little Glass Slipper writing sheet London: Langley & Belch, ca. 1809, ink and watercolour

Writing sheets were popular in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. These printed sheets with decorative borders were left blank in the middle for children to fill in with their best handwriting. This sheet is signed “John Ellyatt his piece December 19th, 1809.” 

Cinderilla, or, The Little Glass Slipper_1820Cinderilla, or, The Little Glass Slipper, York: J. Kendrew, [ca, 1820?]

This 16-page chapbook retells Cinderella’s story in rhyme. Chapbooks were cheaply-printed booklets, in circulation from the seventeenth to the mid-nineteenth centuries. They were widely read by children, containing fairy tales, fables, abridgements of popular novels, religious works and other content. 


Cinderella, or, The Little Glass Slipper

Cinderella, or, The Little Glass Slipper: Beautifully Versified and Illustrated with Figures, London: S. and J. Fuller, 1814

This paper doll and book set combines a rhymed text with seven hand-coloured paper figures. Cinderella’s head is detachable, and can be moved from doll to doll.

Perrault's Cinderella has been adapted and revisited again and again in story, stage and film. This weekend, for example, The National Ballet of Canada opens their 2016 production of Sergei Prokofiev's Cinderella.


Fairy tales have been the inspiration for many of the great ballets, including Cinderella, The Nutcracker, and The Sleeping Beauty. 

SLE 2015 91 (300)

When you visit the Toronto Reference Library, be sure to stop by the Browsery on the first floor to see a display of tutus from The National Ballet of Canada’s production of The Sleeping Beauty, designed by Nicholas Georgiadis. It is a rare chance to get up close and see the incredible workmanship and detail that went into these costumes, which were inspired by the decadent French court of King Louis XIV. The display will be up until January 2017. 

Once Upon a Time: An Enchanting Free Exhibit Opens November 5

November 3, 2016 | Nicole | Comments (0)

Fairy Tale Blocks Richard Andre 1888

Fairy Tale blocks illustrated by Richard André, 1834-1907. New York: McLoughlin Brothers, ca. 1889

Our new exhibit, Once Upon a Time: Fairy Tales from the Osborne Collection of Early Children's Books, opens this Saturday, November 5 in the TD Gallery at the Toronto Reference Library. As always, admission is free and the gallery is open to the public during regular library hours.

From the original tales of Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm to Edward Gorey and Walt Disney, this exhibit explores how classic tales have been re-imagined over the last 300 years. 

Fairy tale plateFairy tale plate  Scotland: B.P. [Britannia Pottery] Co. ca. 1920 - 1935

Fairy tales are stories of spells, journeys, tests, riddles, dangers and (usually) happy endings. They speak to our innermost hopes, dreams and fears. Endlessly re-imagined in literature, film, television, and performance, fairy tales continue to have a profound influence on our culture.

The Surprising Adventures of Puss in Boots

From The Surprising Adventures of Puss in Boots, or, The Master-Cat, London: John Harris, ca. 1830

Once Upon a Time showcases the beloved tales of Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Puss in Boots, Jack and the Beanstalk, Beauty and the Beast, Snow White and others, retold through a rare books, elaborate pop-ups, puzzles, toys, games and art from the library's Osborne Collection of Early Children's Books. The exhibit also features original artwork from picture books that recount folk and fairy tales from around the world. 

Jack and the Bean-stalk puzzle 1869

Jack and the Bean-stalk puzzle, London: George Routledge and Sons, ca. 1869


Here are 5 more ways to rediscover some of your favourite fairy tales:

1. See classic tales come alive in film and on (puppet) stage

Fairy tale fans of all ages will love the Puppetmonger Theatre's creative re-telling Cinderella in Muddy York. This classic tale is set in Upper Canada in the early 1830’s where Ella’s family receives an invitation to the Ball at Government House to celebrate the renaming of York to Toronto. The Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada is the King of England’s representative in the province and his bachelor son, Princely Charming, is the closet thing to a prince in this land on fringes of civilization. Against all odds Ella gets herself to the Ball…


See Cinderella in Muddy York live at the Toronto Reference Library (Beeton Hall) on Thursday, January 5. Free tickets will be available here beginning December 5.   

On Thursday, November 17, we will be screening Jean Cocteau's 1946 cinematic masterpiece, Beauty and the Beast, in the Toronto Reference Library's Hinton Learning Theatre. The film is also available to watch from home via our Criterion screening service. 

Join us on Thursday, December 29, for Mirror, Mirror a family-friendly retelling of the classic Grimm tale Snow White.


2. Admire fairy tale costumes from The National Ballet of Canada

Fairy tales have been the inspiration for many of the great ballets including The Nutcracker, Cinderella and The Sleeping Beauty. A display of costumes from The National Ballet of Canada’s production of The Sleeping Beauty, designed by Nicholas Georgiadis, will be on display in the Toronto Reference Library's browsery (first floor) beginning Friday, November 11. 


The National Ballet of Canada presents Cinderella from November 12-20 onstage at The Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. For more information, visit or call 416-345-9595.


3. Discover the 500-year history of fairy tales 

Join Martha Scott, Osborne librarian and curator of Once Upon a Time, on Wednesday, December 7, for an illustrated talk on the history of fairy tales.  


4. Explore more fairy tales in our Digital Archive


5. Joins us each week for stories and tours in the gallery 

Drop in to the TD Gallery Tuesdays at 10 a.m. for songs, stories and rhymes inspired by classic fairy tales and multicultural folk tales for children and their parents and caregivers. There are also guided tours every Tuesday at 2 p.m. Registration not required. 

Once Upon a Time runs until January 15, 2017.  

TRL Program Calendar for November 2016

October 30, 2016 | Katherine | Comments (0)

French New Wave films, the Life and work of William Morris and the Historical Fiction Writers' Group -- all this month at the TRL.  For 21st century preoccupations, there's Network: Anytime, AnywhereInvestment Research Online and Cuba Beyond the Beach.  Plus, fill out your Christmas list with the Friends of the Library Christmas Sale on November 24-26.

Click on each image to enlarge or Download The November 2016 @ TRL as a pdf file.

For a full list of programs to browse or search, visit our Programs, Classes and Exhibits page.

November 1 November 2 November 3 November 4 November 5 November 6

Electric Vehicles: Exploring Clean Transportation Technology

October 28, 2016 | Pam | Comments (0)

  Fragile PLanet banner.jpg

On Monday, November 7th at 6:30, Wilf Steimle of the Electric Vehicle Society, and Ron Groves of Plug 'N Drive, will give a presentation on Electric Vehicles. The Program takes place at the Toronto Reference Library, in the Beeton Hall, at 6:30 pm.

If you are curious about some of the advantages of Electric Vehicles, here are just a few of the benefits:

  • No engine or exhaust noise
  • Breaks dependence on oil
  • Maintenance is simpler, and cheaper
  • New battery technology extend the range of distances
  • Can use "green" source fuels

Electric vehicles have been around a long time, in fact, they were some of the first vehicles on the road. In the early years of the automobile, one third of the vehicles were electric.

Nissan Leaf Electric Car
Creative Commons / Mariordo

Modern electric cars are now becoming more widely available, but have not made a big dent in sales, yet.

According to, in an article by Stephen Edelstein, Tesla has raised the profile of electric cars, but the company has lost money for a decade. The electric Nissan Leaf is selling, but cannot compare to the millions of gasoline cars and trucks they sell globally.

The author suggests that even though electric cars don't make sense from a business standpoint, they make sense from a policy standpoint. The global climate change agreement resulting from the Paris Conference dealing with greenhouse gases emissions and mitigation, will increase the pressure leading to tougher limits on vehicle emissions and greater pressure to build zero emission electric cars.

The Province of Ontario, as part of its Climate Change Strategy is encouraging a shift to low, and zero- emission vehicles. The speakers will discuss the Electric Vehicle Incentive Program, and also the Ontario Charging Infrastructure.

Books about electric vehicles in Toronto Public Library


Car wars 2


Powerhouse 2


  Electric and hybrid cars 2

The Eh List with Noah Richler

October 26, 2016 | Michal | Comments (0)


Join us on Thursday, November 10 at 7pm, in Beeton Hall at Toronto Reference Library, to hear Noah Richler. This will conclude Toronto Reference Library's participation in the Fall eh List Author Series, Toronto Public Library’s celebration of writers from across Canada.

A celebrated author, journalist and broadcaster, Noah Richler has contributed to numerous publications in Canada and Britain, including The Walrus, The Globe and Mail, The Guardian  and The Daily Telegraph. He made documentaries and features for BBC radio for fourteen years before returning to Canada in 1998 to become the books editor and then literary columnist for the National Post.


      This is my country what's yours  What we talk about when we talk about war  North-southproject  Northwords

Richler's book, This is My Country, What's Yours? A Literary Atlas of Canada, won the 2007 British Columbia's National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction. With your Toronto Public Library card, you can borrow it, as well as a 4-DVD set based on this book, A Literary Atlas of Canada. Richler is also the author of What We Talk About When We Talk About War, and The North-South Project: an Anthology of the Lost, and has contributed to other anthologies and cross-platform projects, such as Northwords.


The Candidate

Richler ran as a candidate for the NDP in the Toronto-St. Paul’s riding in the 2015 federal election. His latest book, The Candidate: Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail, is based on his experience during that campaign, and is told in a comical and revealing way. Find out more from his recent interview with Now.

Born in Montreal, the son of novelist Mordechai Richler, Noah Richler was raised in Canada and England, and worked in his youth in the prairies, the Yukon, and Labrador. He lives in Toronto.

With thanks to the Canada Council for the Arts for their support of the Eh List series, as well as our media partner, The Toronto Star, and Book City for bringing copies of Noah Richler's books for purchase and signing.

You can find out more about the fall eh List Author Series on our What's On blog, or follow the conversation online using the hashtag: #ehList.

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