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Snapshots in History: November 9 - Remembering Mikhail Tal

November 10, 2015 | John P. | Comments (1)


Mikhail Tal in play against Bobby Fischer at the 1960 Chess Olympics in Leipzig, East Germany.

(Source: )

Even if you have never played a game of chess, you might have heard of Robert James “Bobby” Fischer and Boris Spassky, especially when they faced off for the 1972 World Chess Championship in Reykjavik, Iceland when the American Fischer defeated the current World Champion Russian (then-Soviet) Spassky. However, take a moment to remember the contributions to the competitive chess world of one Mikhail “Misha” Nekhem’evich Tal (also known in Latvian as Mihails Tals) (Born: November 9, 1936 in Riga, Latvia; Died: June 28, 1992 in Moscow, Russia) who won the 1960 World Chess Championship from Mikhail Botvinnik with a 12.5-8.5 point score (6 wins 2 losses 13 draws), only to lose the title in the 1961 return match with Botvinnik by an 8-13 score (5 wins 10 losses 6 draws).

Misha Tal was known for his daring attacking and sacrificial style of play with the chess pieces. Winning the competitive 24th Soviet Chess Championship in 1957 for the first time (without even having first obtained an International title) propelled him to International Grandmaster status from the World Chess Federation (known by its French acronym FIDÉ from la Fédération Internationale des Échecs) and drew global attention to his exploits. Repeating as Champion in the 25th Soviet Championship qualified Tal to represent the Soviet Union in the 1958 Portorož Interzonal tournament to compete for the right to play for the World Championship. Tal won the Interzonal tournament and went on to win the 1959 Candidates Tournament in Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade in dramatic fashion with 20 out of a possible 28 points, including four wins over a 15-year old named Bobby Fischer (who at the time was the youngest International Grandmaster in chess history!). By winning the 1959 Candidates tournament, Tal became the challenger to World Champion Mikhail Botvinnik the following year.

Mikhail Tal was World Chess Champion for barely one year and his subsequent successes alternated with some failures as well as having ill-health thrown into the mix (not helped by excessive chain smoking and drinking). Needless to say, Mikhail Tal was one of the most popular chess players on the international competitive circuit, well-liked for his sense of humour and his love of chess, including his willingness to play casual games with chess players below the ranks of candidate master and master. Tal was also an accomplished blitz (speed) chess player, winning the second World Blitz Chess Championship in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1988. In addition, he was an excellent writer and journalist with many articles and several books to his credit on chess.

Consider the following titles for borrowing from Toronto Public Library collections:

Study chess with Tal My great predecessors Volume 2 from Euwe to Tal Garry Kasparov on my great predecessors Part IV Fischer The most instructive games of chess ever played 62 masterpieces of modern chess strategy



The magic tactics of Mikhail Tal learn from the legend On the attack the art of attacking chess according to the modern masters Bobby Fischer for beginners the most famous chess player explained The mammoth book of the world's greatest chess games




How to Make Your Cat an Internet Celebrity

February 4, 2015 | Maria Samurin | Comments (2)

Sometimes—usually on Wednesdays—I like to browse the Albert Campbell Branch shelves in search for wacky books: often odd, always hilarious.

This week's #WackyWednesdays pick: How to make your cat an internet celebrity: a guide to financial freedom by Patricia Carlin.

How to make your cat an internet celebrity : a guide to financial freedom

For years, financial freedom was achieved with careful planning and a successful career, or—if one was lucky—by winning the lottery. Nowadays, all you need is to adopt a furry friend, or so author Patricia Carlin claims.

Her book provides dozens of tips on how to make your cat famous, from understanding kitty's strengths and weaknesses, to filming viral videos.

What first caught my attention—and had me laughing—was the title (the part about 'financial freedom', to be precise). After reading the first few pages, I was convinced! Now, I religiously follow my cat, camera in hand, hoping for a windfall. Lottery tickets have long since been replaced with film equipment, floor space with cat toys, and 'free time' with 'kitty time'.

At this point, I would be remiss if I didn't share some adorable (viral) cat videos:


Now are you ready to make your cat an Internet celebrity? If your answer is 'yes', why not take some time to analyze the appeal of Grumpy Cat, pick out the purrfect kitty with just the right amount of oomph, and learn to care for your furry friend. Here are some books that can help:

Grumpy cat The cat handbookI just got a kittenGuide to home pet grooming

If kitty's career doesn't work out, don't despair! Give your furry friend a great, big hug and attain your financial freedom the traditional way. At Albert Campbell Branch, our Employment Ontario Information Session, Tap into the Hidden Job Market, and Discover the Right Career seminars are here to help.

Snapshots in History: August 5: Remembering Richard Burton, Alec Guinness, and Marilyn Monroe

August 6, 2014 | John P. | Comments (0)


(Credit: Oscars – YouTube - Alec Guinness winning Best Actor for "The Bridge on the River Kwai" – Published on October 11, 2013 – 3:01)  



(Credit: BBC/The World of Burton – YouTube - Richard Burton BBC Interview 1977 – Published on December 17, 2013 - 28:47) 



(Credit: Marilyn Monroe History – YouTube – Marilyn Monroe – The Last Interview – Published on November 26, 2013 – 26:57)   


On August 5 and beyond, take a moment to remember the lives and accomplishments of three actors who each died on August 5th in different years: Richard Burton (1925-1984), Alec Guinness (1914-2000), and Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962). Welshman Richard Burton gained recognition as a talented Shakespearean actor in the 1950s, culminating in Burton’s Broadway performance of Hamlet in 1964.  Burton also had a successful Hollywood movie career in addition to theatrical success, including Desert Rats (1953) and Cleopatra (1963 – co-starring with future wife and actor Elizabeth Taylor) on the big screen and Time Remembered (1958 – nominated for a Tony Award) and the musical Camelot (1960) on the stage. Over his career, Richard Burton was nominated seven times for an Academy Award (six times for Best Actor and once for Best Supporting Actor (for My Cousin Rachel in 1952)) but never won. Burton’s health suffered from excessive drinking and smoking and he died from a cerebral hemorrhage on August 5, 1984 in Céligny, Switzerland. Nonetheless, Burton was renowned for his harmonious, baritone voice.

English actor Sir Alec Guinness had an acting career spanning over sixty years. Guinness also had roots in stage Shakespearean acting with a critically acclaimed, starring role in Hamlet (1938), as Romeo in Romeo and Juliet (1939), and played opposite Laurence Olivier in both Twelfth Night and Henry V in 1937 as Andrew Aguecheek and Exeter respectively.  Guinness also played opposite Sir John Gielgud’s Prospero as Ferdinand in The Tempest.  Guinness also had success playing the role of Herbert Pocket in a theatrical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ novel Great Expectations in 1939, a role which Guinness would reprise in a 1946 film adaptation, working with David Lean. Although Guinness’ relationship with David Lean was difficult at times, he worked with Lean on several films, including Oliver Twist (1948), The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957 – for which Alec Guinness won the Academy Award for Best Actor as the uncompromising Colonel Nicholson), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Doctor Zhivago (1965), and A Passage to India (1984). Fans of the original Star Wars film trilogy may remember Sir Alec Guinness portraying Obi-Wan Kenobi for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Star Wars in 1977. Earlier in his career, Guinness had been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for The Lavender Hill Mob (1951), and for the Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium for his screenplay adapted from the novel The Horse’s Mouth by Joyce Cary (1958). Guinness also entertained those of us interested in the Cold War world of espionage with his portrayal of George Smiley in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, and Smiley’s People, based on the novels by John Le Carré.

American model and actor Marilyn Monroe (born Norma Jeane Mortenson) became a model for the Blue Book Agency after working in a munitions factory while her first husband, James Dougherty, was serving in the Merchant Marine. She appeared on many magazine covers. Monroe had been signed to a contract with 20th Century Fox and had bit parts in several films. After getting out of her contract, Marilyn Monroe began to generate interest in her acting career after auditioning for John Huston who cast her in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s (MGM) The Asphalt Jungle (1950) as the young mistress of an older criminal.  Her portrayal brought positive reviews that led to her comedic role in All About Eve (1950) as an aspiring actress. Monroe’s agent negotiated a seven year contract for her with 20th Century Fox. In 1951, Marilyn Monroe had small parts in four films while studying literature and art appreciation at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). Things began to look up in 1952 with growing recognition from roles in Clash by Night (with Barbara Stanwyck), We’re Not Married!, Monkey Business (with Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers), and O. Henry’s Full House.

Film producer Darryl F. Zanuck saw the value in Marilyn Monroe’s acting potential and cast her as a femme fatale in Niagara (co-starring with Joseph Cotten) in 1953, although she needed help working through bouts of stage fright. Monroe demonstrated her acting, dancing, and singing versatility in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) (co-starring with Jane Russell) in which she sang “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend”. Monroe’s relationship with 20th Century Fox was strained after being miscast in a western and having strained relations with the director, Otto Preminger. 20th Century Fox suspended when she did not turn up for filming with Frank Sinatra in another film in 1953. (Her marriage to baseball legend Joe DiMaggio ended in divorce in 1954.) Monroe got back on track with a film adaptation of a Broadway romantic comedy hit called The Seven Year Itch (1955), followed by the drama Bus Stop (1956 – nominated for a Golden Globe Award) in which Monroe gained credit for playing down her singing and dancing abilities by portraying a character lacking in those abilities. Monroe worked with Laurence Olivier in The Prince and the Showgirl (1957 – winner of the Italian David di Donatello Award; nominated for a BAFTA Award). Expecting a child with third husband Arthur Miller, Monroe suffered a miscarriage in August 1957.

Marilyn Monroe was praised for her performance in Some Like It Hot (1959 – co-starring with Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis), winning the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. Tragedy struck Monroe at the conclusion of filming in December 1958 when she endured a second miscarriage. Monroe’s marriage to playwright Arthur Miller was showing signs of stress and she was under the care of a psychiatrist for insomnia during which time Monroe was taking fewer narcotics. Monroe was taken ill during the filming of her last full film, The Misfits (1961), a screenplay by Arthur Miller re-worked out of one of his short stories written during an earlier visit to Nevada. In fact, several of the actors had health issues including Clark Gable who died soon after the completion of filming. Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller also separated following the filming of The Misfits and divorced in January 1961. From the point of view of the acting however, Monroe, Clark Gable, and Montgomery Clift received praise for their performances.

Dependency on alcohol and prescription medication wreaked havoc with Marilyn Monroe’s health and she was found dead at home on August 5, 1962 from a “probable suicide” on account of “acute barbiturate poisoning”.


As we remember these three remarkable actors and personalities, consider the follow titles for borrowing from Toronto Public Library collections:


Richard Burton:

Books and eBooks:


Furious love Elizabeth Taylor Richard Burton and the marriage of the century

Furious love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and the marriage of the century / Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger, 2010. Book. Adult Non-Fiction. 791.43028 TAY KAS

Also available in Large Print, eAudiobook (Access Online), and eBook (Access Online) formats.  


The Richard Burton diaries

The Richard Burton diaries / Richard Burton; edited by Chris Williams, 2013. Book. Adult Non-Fiction. 792.02809 BUR BUR


Becket [1 videodisc] / Richard Burton, Peter O’Toole et. al., 2007, [1964]. DVD. FEATURE BEC  


The taming of the shrew

The taming of the shrew [1 videodisc] / Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Michael York et. al., 1999, [1967]. DVD. FEATURE TAM  


Under milk wood

Under milk wood [1 videodisc] / Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Peter O'Toole et. al., 2005, [1972]. DVD. FEATURE UND  



Wagner [3 videodiscs] / Richard Burton, Vanessa Redgrave, Gemma Craven, Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud, Ralph Richardson et. al., 1982. DVD. FEATURE WAG DISC 1-3  


Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf Qui a peur de Virginia Woolf

Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf? [Qui a peur de Virginia Woolf?] [2 videodiscs] / Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal, Sandy Dennis et. al., 2006, [1966]. DVD. FEATURE WHO DISC 1-2  


Where eagles dare

Where eagles dare [1 videodisc] / Richard Burton, Clint Eastwood, Mary Ure, Patrick Wymark, Michael Hordern et. al., 2010, [1968]. DVD. FEATURE WHE  


Alec Guinness:

Books and eBooks:


Alec Guinness the authorized biography

Alec Guinness: the authorized biography / Piers Paul Read, 2003. Book. Adult Non-Fiction. 791.43028 GUI REA  


A commonplace book

A commonplace book / Alec Guinness, 2001. Book. Adult Non-Fiction. 792.02809 GUI GUI

Also available in Large Print edition.  


A positively final appearance a journal 1996-98

A positively final appearance: a journal 1996-98 / Alec Guinness, 1999. Book. Adult Non-Fiction. 791.43092 GUI GUI / 791.43092 GUINNESS/ 792.02809 GUI

Also available in Large Print edition.


My name escapes me the diary of a retiring actor

My name escapes me: the diary of a retiring actor; with a preface by John Le Carre / Alec Guinness, 1996. Book. Adult Non-Fiction. 791.4302 GUINNESS  




Bridge on the River Kwai [widescreen version] [1 videodisc] / Alec Guinness, William Holden et. al., 2000, [1957]. DVD. FEATURE BRI


David Lean's Great expectations

Great expectations [1 videodisc] / John Mills, Valerie Hobson, Bernard Miles, Francis L. Sullivan, Martita Hunt, Finlay Currie, Alec Guinness, Ivor Barnard, Freda Jackson, Anthony Wager, Jean Simmons et. al., 1998, [1946]. DVD. FEATURE GRE  


The Lavender Hill mob [1 videodisc] / Alec Guinness, Stanley Holloway, Sidney James et. al., 2002, [1951]. DVD. FEATURE LAV  


Lawrence of Arabia

Lawrence of Arabia [1 videodisc] / Alec Guinness, Omar Sharif, Peter O'Toole, Anthony Quinn, Jack Hawkins, Anthony Quayle, Claude Rains et. al., 2002, [1962]. DVD. FEATURE LAW


  Oliver Twist

Oliver Twist [1 videodisc] / John Howard Davies, Robert Newton, Alec Guinness, Kay Walsh, Francis L. Sullivan, Henry Stephenson, Mary Clare, Anthony Newley, Josephine Stuart, Ralph Truman, Kathleen Harrison, Gibb McLaughlin et. al., [1998], [1948]. DVD. FEATURE OLI  


Our man in Havana

Our man in Havana [1 videodisc] / Alec Guinness, Burl Ives, Maureen O'Hara et. al., [2009], [1959]. DVD. FEATURE OUR  


A passage to India

A passage to India [1 videodisc] / Peggy Ashcroft, Judy Davis, James Fox, Alec Guinness, Nigel Havers and Victor Banerjee et. al., 2000, [1984]. DVD. FEATURE PAS  


Smiley's people

Smiley’s people [3 videodiscs] / Bill Paterson, Eileen Atkins, Patrick Stewart, Sir Alec Guinness et. al., [2011]. DVD. Drama. 791.4575 SMI DISC 1-3


Star wars. Episode IV, A new hope [2 videodiscs] / Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness et. al., c2004, [1977]. DVD. FEATURE STA DISC 1-2



Tinker, tailor, soldier, spy [3 videodiscs] / Alec Guinness, Ian Bannen, Bernard Hepton, Terence Rigby et. al., 2002. DVD. Drama. FEATURE TIN  



Marilyn Monroe:

Books and eBooks:


Joe and Marilyn legends in love

Joe and Marilyn: legends in love / C. David Heymann, 2013. Book. Adult Non-Fiction. 791.43028 MON HEY  


Dressing Marilyn how a Hollywood icon was styled by William Travilla

Dressing Marilyn: how a Hollywood icon was styled by William Travilla / Andrew Hansford with Karen Homer, 2012, c2011. Book. Adult Non-Fiction. 746.92092 TRA HAN  


Marilyn & me a photographer’s memories

Marilyn & me: a photographer’s memories / Lawrence Schiller, 2012. Book. Adult Non-Fiction. 791.43028 MON SCH

Also available in eBook format (Access Online).  


Marilyn Monroe the final years

Marilyn Monroe: the final years / Keith Badman, 2012, c2010. Book. Adult Non-Fiction. 791.43028 MON BAD

Also available in eBook format (Access Online).  


Marilyn the passion and the paradox

Marilyn: the passion and the paradox / Lois W. Banner, 2012. Book. Adult Non-Fiction. 791.43028 MON BAN

Also available in eBook format (Access Online).  


My story

My story / Marilyn Monroe, 2000. Book. Adult Non-Fiction. 791.43028 MON MON

Also available in eBook format (Access Online).  




Love Marilyn

Love, Marilyn [1 videodisc] / Elizabeth Banks, Ellen Burstyn, Glenn Close, Viola Davis, and Jennifer Ehle, [2013?]. DVD. Documentary. 791.43028 MON LOV




  The asphalt jungle

The asphalt jungle [1 videodisc] / Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, Jean Hagen, James Whitmore, Sam Jaffe, John McIntire, Marc Lawrence, Barry Kelley, Anthony Caruso, Teresa Celli, Marilyn Monroe, William Davis, Dorothy Tree, Brad Dexter, John Maxwell et. al., c2004, [1950]. DVD. FEATURE ASP


Bus stop [1 videodisc] / Marilyn Monroe and Don Murray, 2001, [1956]. DVD. FEATURE BUS  


How to marry a millionaire

How to marry a millionaire [1 videodisc] / Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable, Lauren Bacall, David Wayne, Rory Calhoun, Cameron Mitchell, Alex D'Arcy, Fred Clark, William Powell et. al., 2001, [1953]. DVD. FEATURE HOW


Howard Hawks' Gentlemen prefer blondes [1 videodisc] / Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russell, Charles Coburn, Tommy Noonan, George Winslow, Elliott Reid et. al., 2001, [1953]. DVD. FEATURE HOW  


The misfits

The misfits [1 videodisc] / Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, Montgomery Clift, Thelma Ritter, Eli Wallach et. al., 2001, [1961]. DVD. FEATURE MIS


Niagara [1 videodisc] / Marilyn Monroe, Joseph Cotten, Jean Peters et. al., 2002, [1953]. DVD. FEATURE NIA  


The prince and the showgirl Le prince et la danseuse

The prince and the showgirl Le prince et la danseuse [1 videodisc] / Marilyn Monroe and Sir Laurence Olivier, 2012, [1957]. DVD. FEATURE PRI


The seven year itch Sept ans de réflexion [1 videodisc] / Marilyn Monroe, Tom Ewell, Sonny Tufts, Evelyn Keyes, Robert Strauss, Oscar Homolka, Marguerite Chapman, Victor Moore et. al., 2006, [1955]. DVD. FEATURE SEV  


Some like it hot

Some like it hot [1 videodisc] / Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon et. al., 2001. DVD. FEATURE SOM

Reading Toronto: The Scarborough Bluffs

May 2, 2014 | Winona | Comments (0)

The Scarborough Bluffs are one of Toronto's most beautiful natural features. Created from layers of sand and clay that were deposited during the last ice age, some 70,000 years ago, the Bluffs have been eroding steadily ever since. (So much so, in fact, that erosion from the Bluffs travelled westward and settled to form the Toronto Islands.)

Panoramic view from the Bluffs_Wikipedia_May2014
Panoramic view of Lake Ontario from atop the Scarborough Bluffs. Image from

Today, the Bluffs span 15 km (9 mi) of the city's eastern waterfront and rise more than 90 metres (300 ft) above Lake Ontario. Imagine the things those Bluffs have seen, the stories they could tell...

Scarborough Bluffs point City of Toronto Archives Fonds 1244 f1244_it537
City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 1537. Image from the Canadian Encyclopedia online.

If you haven't been to the Bluffs in a while (or ever) there is a terrific opportunity to explore them this weekend as part of Jane's Walk. Jane's Walk is a series of free pedestrian events led by volunteers in cities around the world and is named for Toronto's own urban visionary and activist Jane Jacobs. This year there are are two guided walks featuring the Bluffs:

Photo by Grant MacDonald
Photo by Grant MacDonald from

If you're more of an armchair traveller you may prefer to borrow a book about the Scarborough Bluffs from the library. Here is a selection of fiction and non-fiction books in which the Bluffs make an appearance:


Soucouyant by David Chariandy

Soucouyant by David Chariandy


"She has become an old woman. She looks out from the doorway of her own home but seems puzzled by the scene, the bruised evening sky and the crab scurry of leaves on the shoreline below. These are the bluffs at the lakeside edge of Scarborough. This is the season named fall."

FICTION print | ebook


Photo by Peter Power
Photo by Peter Power from


Writing Home by Barry Dempster

Barry Dempster“Walt is looking down now, across the shadowy backyard. A moonbeam perches on the edge of the Scarborough Bluffs as if it were a floodlight. He too is perched on the edge of his life, a bright man beginning to fade. There is only a backyard between himself and the Bluffs. Almost nowhere left to go. Considering erosion and gravity, it will be no time at all before this very house stumbles on its own foundation, falling over a moonbeam into the great devouring lake below. Shivering, Walt wraps his arms around himself, feeling sharp and empty. The palms of his hands long for something to grasp: a chimney, a ladder, a child.”

FICTION print reference

Photo by defkreationz
Photo by defkreationz from


Mrs. Simcoe's Diary by Elizabeth Simcoe

Mrs. Simcoe's Diary by Elizabeth Simcoe

"Sunday August 4th 1793...It was not much larger than a Canoe but we ventured into it & after rowing a mile we came within sight of what is named in the map the high lands of Toronto [now Scarborough Bluffs]. The Shore is extremely bold & has the appearance of Chalk Cliffs but I believe they are only white Sand. They appeared so well that we talked of building a summer Residence there & calling it Scarborough."


The Bluffs as Viewed by Elizabeth Simcoe c. 1793
The Bluffs as Viewed by Elizabeth Simcoe c. 1793 by Mural Routes. Image from


A History of Scarborough edited by Robert R. Bonis

A History of Scarborough by Robert Bonis

“Accordingly, shortly thereafter the name of Glasgow, which had been assigned to the township east of Toronto when it was first laid out by Surveyor Augustus Jones in 1791, was discarded... On August 27th [that township], with the great gray cliffs like those of the English Yorkshire town, henceforth became Scarborough.”



Along the Shore: Rediscovering Toronto's Waterfront Heritage by M. Jane Fairburn 


Along the Shore by Jane FairburnFrom the introduction: "While running high above the lake on a frigid midwinter afternoon, I slipped on black ice on the first step down to the Scarborough Bluffs, an extremely steep incline known locally as Killer Hill. Below the hill, the Scarborough Bluffs plunge to the water some 250 feet below. As I lay there stranded, my cries were blown away by the gusts of wind that swirled around me. With my right ankle hanging from my leg at an unnatural angle, I could do nothing but wait to be discovered. Far below me the ice fog swirled along the surface of the lake, weaving its intricate patterns over the grim grey water. Despite being on the outskirts of Canada's most densely populated city, it seemed as though I had tumbled into a wilderness that remained raw and uncivilized. It was a lake I had never known."

NON-FICTION print | ebook

Artist Andrew Horne painting underpass mural
Artist Andrew Horne painting Warden underpass mural. Image from

Spring is Coming Soon to a Garden Near You!

April 21, 2014 | Winona | Comments (0)

It's time to get ready...spring is coming soon to a garden near you!

Give your garden a great start this year: join us at Albert Campbell branch for a "spring awakening" on Saturday April 26 at 1:30 p.m. An expert from Toronto Master Gardeners will show you how to get your garden growing this spring. Enjoy a photo gallery of beautiful bulbs to motivate you to action! Unravel the mysteries of mulching and pruning! Learn what to plant and when to plant it! From cleaning up to transplanting, learn how to get the most from your garden, from your veggie patch and flower beds to your shrubbery and lawns.

For more "Ask an Expert" gardening programs at different library branches in the city, click here.

Check out these books from the library to help you get your Ontario garden started this spring:

Getting Started on a Great Canadian Garden by Wendy Thomas Best Garden Plants for Ontario by Liz Klose Seasons of My Garden by Marjorie Harris Tree and Shrub Gardening for Ontario by Alison BeckPerennials for Ontario by Alison Beck Canadian Gardener's Guide ed Lorraine Johnson The New Ontario Naturalized Garden by Lorraine Johnson The New Ontario Gardener100 Best Plants for the Ontario Garden by Steve Whysall Annuals for Ontario by Alison Beck Canadian Encyclopedia of Gardening by Christopher Brickell and Trevor Cole Mark Cullen's Ontario Gardening by Mark Cullen

Author Visit: Deborah Ellis!

April 5, 2014 | Winona | Comments (0)

Join us for a visit with award-winning Canadian author and peace activist Deborah Ellis! At Albert Campbell branch on Wednesday April 9, 2014, 6:30-7:30 p.m. 

Deborah Ellis is the internationally acclaimed author of many fiction and non-fiction books for children, teens, and adults. She is perhaps best known for her novels about courageous young people in difficult circumstances, such as The Breadwinner Series (The Breadwinner, Parvana's Journey, Mud City, and My Name is Parvana), which was inspired by the true story of a young girl who cut off her hair and pretended to be a boy so she could earn money to support her family in war-torn Taliban-era Afghanistan. 

The Breadwinner tells the story of Parvana, a young, fictional character who cuts off her hair and poses as a boy so that she can have freedom of movement and support her family in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. - See more at:
The Breadwinner tells the story of Parvana, a young, fictional character who cuts off her hair and poses as a boy so that she can have freedom of movement and support her family in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. - See more at:
The Breadwinner tells the story of Parvana, a young, fictional character who cuts off her hair and poses as a boy so that she can have freedom of movement and support her family in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. - See more at: its sequels Parvana's Journey, Mud City, My Name is Parvana.  series set in Afghanistan and Pakistan that has been published in twenty-five languages
The Breadwinner tells the story of Parvana, a young, fictional character who cuts off her hair and poses as a boy so that she can have freedom of movement and support her family in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. - See more at:

Deborah Ellis has received several awards for her beautiful and challenging books, including the Governor General's Award, the University of California's Middle East Book award, Sweden's Peter Pan Prize, and the Order of Ontario. Her most recent book is Looks Like Daylight: Voices of Indigenous Kids, a compelling collection of interviews with Aboriginal and Native American youth aged nine to eighteen.

This program is suitable for teens and adults. For more information or to register please visit the branch or call us at 416-396-8890.

The Breadwinner Series

The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis Parvana's Journey by Deborah Ellis Mud City by Deborah Ellis My Name is Parvana by Deborah Ellis

  • The Breadwinner - Eleven-year-old Parvana lives with her family in Kabul, Afghanistan. When Parvana's father is arrested for having a foreign education, and conditions in the city become more difficult, Parvana must disguise herself as a boy to become the breadwinner of the family. Translated into 25 languages, with over two million copies sold worldwide.
  • Parvana's Journey - In this sequel to The Breadwinner Parvana sets off from Kabul in search of her missing mother and siblings.
  • Mud City - The third book of the series is the story of Parvana's best friend Shauzia who leaves the refugee camp in Pakistan to join other homeless children on the streets of Peshawar.
  • My Name is Parvana - Parvana, now fifteen, is imprisoned by American authorities on a military base in post-Taliban Afghanistan and recalls the past four years of her life.

Selected Novels by Deborah Ellis

  Looking for X by Deborah Ellis No Ordinary Day by Deborah Ellis I Am A Taxi by Deborah Ellis True Blue by Deborah Ellis    

  • Looking for X - Kyber is a smart, bold, eleven-year-old girl from Toronto's Regent Park neighbourhood who sets out to find her friend X, a mysterious homeless woman who has gone missing. Winner of the Governor General's Literary Award.
  • No Ordinary Day - An orphan girl lives on the streets of Calcutta unaware of her leprosy until she meets a doctor who helps her get treatment and find hope for the future. Starred review in Book List Review.
  • I Am a Taxi - Twelve-year-old Diego runs errands and delivers goods to a prison in Bolivia where he lives with his mother who has been wrongly incarcerated for drug trafficking. Winner of the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Award.
  • True Blue - An eight-year-old girl is murdered and Jess' best friend Casey is accused of the crime. A gripping murder mystery that will appeal to readers age 12 and up.

Selected Non-Fiction by Deborah Ellis

Kids of Kabul by Deborah Ellis Looks Like Daylight by Deborah Ellis  Three Wishes by Deborah Ellis Our Stories Our Songs by Deborah Ellis

 Biography of Deborah Ellis


Printmaking Workshop for Teens During March Break

March 7, 2014 | Winona | Comments (0)

Get creative at the library this March Break! Join us for a free workshop with artist Rob Matejka and learn how to create and apply your own design to a book bag/eco-bag using printmaking techniques. Supplies are provided and you get to keep your creation!

Rob Matejka photo printing003
Photo courtesy of Rob Matejka

Printmaking for Teens is being held at two branches during March Break:

This workshop is for teens ages 12-19. Each participant will receive a bag to print on. If you are interested in an additional printmaking project please bring a t-shirt to print on.

This is a free workshop but space is limited! Register in-person at the branch where you will taking the workshop or call to reserve your spot.

This workshop is great for those who want to learn a super cool art technique, express themselves, and have fun while doing it. Plus, once you've learned the basics of printmaking you can use your new skills to make unique gifts and other great stuff - from personalized stationery and greeting cards to gift wrap, posters, pillows, scarves, dishes, wall art...the possibilities are limited only by your imagination!

Rob Matejka photo printing007
Photo courtesy of Rob Matejka

Want to know more about printmaking? Check out these books on simple printmaking techniques and cool projects you can make at home:

         The Printmaking Bible by Ann D'Arcy Hughes and Hebe Vernon-Morris Printmaking and Mixed Media by Dorit Elisha Print Workshop by Christine Schmidt
Paper and Ink Workshop by John Foster  Practical Mixed-Media Printmaking Techniques by Sarah A. Riley The Instant Printmaker by Melvyn Petterson The Printed Pattern by Rebecca Drury Low Tech Print by Caspar Williamson

Simple Printmaking Hand-Printing Projects to Make at Home by Elizabeth Harbour

Oscars 2014: Book-to-Movie Adaptations

March 1, 2014 | Winona | Comments (0)

Pop your popcorn, place your bets, and call the fashion police: it's Oscar time again!

As always, several literary adaptations have been nominated for Hollywood's top prize. This year, five of the nine nominees for Best Picture are based on books, and there are books on film in many other categories. Read on for a list of some of this year's Oscar-nominated movies and the books that inspired them. You can get all these books at the library - and you can already place a hold for some of the movies too!

Which ones have you seen/read this year? Which was better, the book or the movie? Are there any great story-to-screen adaptations that you think the Academy missed? And who do you think will go home with Oscar? Let us know in the comments below!

American Hustle

The Sting Man by Robert W. GreeneAmerican Hustle posterLoosely based on the true story The Sting Man: Inside Abscam by Robert W. Greene.

Nominated for: Actor in a Leading Role; Actor in a Supporting Role; Actress in a Leading Role; Actress in a Supporting Role; Best Picture; Costume Design; Directing; Film Editing; Production Design; Writing.

Synopsis: "When small-time con man Irving Rosenfeld meets Sydney Prosser, an ambitious hustler who persuades him to up the stakes in his scams, they find themselves targeted by FBI agent Richie DiMaso. With the threat of prison looming, Irving and Sydney agree to cooperate with DiMaso in a far-reaching sting operation that will target prominent political figures."


August: Osage County

August Osage County by Tracy Letts movie tie-in August Osage County posterBased on the play August: Osage County by Tracey Letts (ebook).

Nominated for: Actress in a Leading Role; Actress in a Supporting Role.

Synopsis: "A look at the lives of the strong-willed women of the Weston family, whose paths have diverged until a family crisis brings them back to the Oklahoma house they grew up in, and to the dysfunctional woman who raised them."


The Book Thief

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak The Book Thief posterBased on the novel The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (audiobook | book club set | eaudiobook| ebook | talking book).

Nominated for: Music.

Synopsis: "While subjected to the horrors of World War II Germany, young Liesel finds solace by stealing books and sharing them with others. Under the stairs in her home, a Jewish refugee is being sheltered by her adoptive parents."


Captain Phillips

A Captain's Duty by Richard Phillips Captain Phillips posterBased on the true story A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy Seals, and My Dangerous Days at Sea by Richard Phillips  (eaudiobookebook | large print | movie).

Nominated for: Actor in a Supporting Role; Best Picture; Film Editing; Sound Editing; Sound Mixing; Writing.

Synopsis: "When the freighter ship Maersk Alabama is pursued and captured by a handful of Somali pirates, Captain Richard Phillips faces off against Muse, the band's leader, in an effort to protect the lives of his crew. In an explosively dangerous situation, Phillips must strike a careful balance between strength and compliance if he and the men he is responsible for are to survive."


Dirty Wars

Dirty Wars by Jeremy Scahill Dirty Wars posterBased on the true story Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield by Jeremy Scahill (audiobook | eaudiobook | talking book | movie).

Nominated for: Documentary Feature

Synopsis: "One of the least-known components in the war on terror, the Joint Special Operations Command conducts its work in secret and seemingly without limitations. With no existing record of their actions or personnel, the JSOC carries out strikes against those deemed a threat to U.S. security while remaining entirely outside the scope of public knowledge."


Ernest & Celestine

Ernest and Celestine by Gabrielle Vincent Ernets & Celestine posterBased on the children's picture book series Ernest & Celestine written and illustrated by Gabrielle Vincent (movie - in French with English subtitles). 

Nominated for: Animated Feature Film.

Synopsis: "Beneath a village inhabited by bears lies a subterranean community of mice who steal from their ursine neighbors and particularly value their teeth. When Celestine, an orphaned mouse studying dentistry but dreaming of art, meets a sensitive, talented bear named Ernest, the interests they share lead to a bond between them that challenges the traditional enmity between their species."



The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson adapted by Ken Setterington Frozen posterInspired by the fairy tale The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson (audiobook | ebook | other print editions).

Nominated for: Animated Feature Film; Music.

Synopsis: "Sisters Elsa and Anna enjoy an idyllic life in the enchanted kingdom ruled by their parents until Elsa's magical ability to create ice and snow around her proves a threat to those she loves. Emerging for her own coronation after several years of self-imposed isolation, Elsa flees her home in distress when her uncontrollable powers transform the kingdom into a frozen realm."


The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby posterBased on the Jazz Age classic The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (eaudiobooks | ebooks | large print).

Nominated for: Costume Design; Production Design.

Synopsis: "A Midwestern war veteran finds himself drawn to the past and lifestyle of his millionaire neighbour."



The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

The Hobbitt by J.R.R. Tolkien The Hobbit posterBased on the fantasy classic The Hobbit, or, There and Back Again by J. R. R. Tolkien (eaudiobook | ebooks | talking book | first Hobbit movie).

Nominated for: Sound Editing; Sound Mixing; Visual Effects.

Synopsis: "The dwarves, along with Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf the Grey, continue their quest to reclaim Erebor, their homeland, from Smaug. Bilbo Baggins is in possession of a mysterious and magical ring."


Iron Man 3

Iron Man Iron Man posterBased on the Marvel comic book hero Iron Man (first Iron Man movie | Iron Man 2) | Iron Man 3).

Nominated for: Visual Effects.

Synopsis: "When Tony Stark's world is torn apart by a formidable terrorist called the Mandarin, he starts an odyssey of rebuilding and retribution."


Lone Survivor

Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell Lone Survivor posterBased on the true story Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10 by Marcus Luttrell (eaudiobook | ebook).

Nominated for: Sound Editing; Sound Mixing.

Synopsis: "Marcus Luttrell and his team set out on a mission to capture or kill notorious Taliban leader Ahmad Shah, in late June 2005. Marcus and his team are left to fight for their lives in one of the most valiant efforts of modern warfare."



The Lost Child of Philomena Lee by Martin Sixsmith Philomena posterBased on the true story The Lost Child of Philomena Lee by Martin Sixsmith. 

Nominated for: Actress in a Leading Role; Best Picture; Music; Writing.

Synopsis: "When Irishwoman Philomena Lee gave birth to her son in 1952, the boy was taken from her by the Catholic home for unwed mothers to which she had been consigned, and adopted out to a family in America. Accompanied by a former BBC correspondent in search of a human interest story, Philomena travels to Washington, D.C. in an attempt to find her now-grown child."


Room on the Broom

Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson Room on the Broom movieBased on the children's picture book Room on the Broom written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler (book and CD set | movie).

Nominated for: Short Film (Animated).

Synopsis: "A genial witch and her cat are joined on their broom by several friends as they set off on an adventure."


12 Years a Slave

12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup12 Years a Slave posterBased on the true story 12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup (eaudiobook | public domain ebooks | movie).

Nominated for: Actor in a Leading Role; Actor in a Supporting Role; Actress in a Supporting Role; Best Picture; Costume Design; Directing; Film Editing; Production Design; Writing.

Synopsis: "Solomon Northup, a free black man living with his wife and children in New York in 1841, is tricked by slave traders into traveling to Washington, D.C., where he is kidnapped and sold into slavery. Sent to Louisiana, he experiences the violence and degradation of life as a slave while clinging to the hope that he will someday regain his freedom."


The Voorman Problem

Number9dream by David Mitchell The Voorman Problem posterBased on the novel number9dream by David Mitchell.

Nominated for: Short Film (Live Action).

Synopsis: "A psychiatrist is called to a prison to examine an inmate named Voorman, who is convinced he is a god."


The Wolf of Wall Street

The Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort The Wolf of Wall Street posterBased on the true story The Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort (eaudiobook | ebook).

Nominated for: Actor in a Leading Role; Actor in a Supporting Role; Best Picture; Directing; Writing.

Synopsis: "In the heady financial world of the 1990s, stockbroker Jordan Belfort enjoys a meteoric rise as one of Wall Street's power players. Tossing aside ethics and legality, he embraces the excesses of the era and enters into a series of scams that will have far-reaching implications throughout the financial community."

Note: All film synopses are from the Oscars 2014 website, except August: Osage County, The Book Thief, Iron Man 3, and Lone Survivor, from Internet Movie Database.

Oscar statuette

Related blog posts:

Reading Toronto: The Black Experience

February 25, 2014 | Winona | Comments (0)

Did you know that Toronto was the first city in Canada to officially recognize Black History Month?

In the 1950s, the Canadian Negro Women's Association successfully petitioned Toronto City Council to recognize Black History Week. In 1979, thanks to advocacy by the newly formed Ontario Black History Society, February was proclaimed Black History Month in the City of Toronto, and later proclaimed provincially in 1993 and across Canada in 1995.

The history of the Black community in Toronto has its origins in the early settlement of the city, when the first African Canadian residents arrived with the British and United Empire Loyalist settlers. In 1799, 15 Black residents were living in Toronto (then York), and by 1837 there were 50 families. Today, Toronto's Black community includes the descendents of those early residents, as well as those of fugitive slaves from America in the 1800s and migrants from Africville in Nova Scotia or southwestern Ontario in the 1900s, plus more recent immigrants who have come from Caribbean, African, and Latin American countries in the 20th and 21st centuries.   

In celebration of Black History Month, and to honour the experiences of Toronto's African-Canadian and Carribean-Canadian communities, I offer you this selection of fiction and non-fiction books by some of Toronto's great Black storytellers. You can read them any month of the year.


The Refugee: Narratives of Fugitive Slaves in Canada edited by Benjamin Drew, with an introduction by George Elliott Clarke

The Refugee edited by Benjamin DrewThis collection of interviews with fugitive slaves, first published in 1856, includes the stories of ten men living in Toronto. The book is plainly propagandistic: it condemns slavery in the United States and portrays Canada as a paradise, forgetting that slavery was legal here until 1834. But it is also, as George Elliott Clarke points out in his introduction, a fascinating collection of "settler narratives" that "are also great reads. They exhibit the rough intrigue and derring-do of historical romance, as well as the Byzantine traps and torments of the Gothic." 


A Black Man's Toronto, 1914-1980: The Reminiscences of Harry Gairey, edited and with an introduction by Donna Hill

A Black Man's Toronto by Harry GaireyHarry Gainey was born in Jamaica in 1898, moved to Cuba as a boy, and came to Canada in 1914 on his own at the age of 16. He soon settled in Toronto where he found employment with the Canadian Pacific Railway as a sleeping-car porter, then helped to organize the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, worked to make changes to Canada's immigration laws, and went on to become a senior statesman in the city's Black community. This wonderful oral history is transcribed from nine hours of interviews, and offers insight into daily life in Toronto and its emergent Black community, as well as life on the railway, and the casual discrimination and systemic racism he experienced. You can read a partial excerpt of the book here.


The Meeting Point by Austin Clarke

The Meeting Point by Austin ClarkeThis is the first novel in the "Toronto trilogy" (the others are Storm of Fortune and The Bigger Light) about the experiences of a group of West Indian immigrants, their friends, lovers, relations, and employers, in late 1950s Toronto. The story centres on Bernice, a Barbadian woman employed as a live-in maid by a wealthy family, and the at first comic, then tragic, events that unfold when cultures collide. Bernice's fictional experience is modelled on the real experiences of women during the notorious Domestic Workers Scheme, in which Caribbean women age 18-35 were recruited to live in Canada as domestics, thereby allowing Canadian women to enter the workforce. Austin Clarke himself came to Canada in 1955 from Barbados, to study at the University of Toronto, and is considered the first Black writer to achieve major attention in Canada. In 2002, Clarke won the Giller Prize for his ninth novel, The Polished Hoe, and in 2005 he won the Toronto Book Award for More.


Sleep On, Beloved by Cecil Foster

Sleep On Beloved by Cecil FosterCecil Foster's second novel also uses the Domestic Workers Scheme as a starting point to explore the complex culture of racism experienced by immigrants from the Caribbean diaspora. Ona Morgan leaves behind her Jamaican home and her baby for a new life in Canada. When she and her daughter are reunited in Toronto, twelve years later, the two must struggle to reconnect with one another and with their cultural heritage. Sleep On, Beloved was shortlisted for the 1995 Trillium Award. Foster has a new novel out this year, Independence, and it's already getting great reviews. 


Soucouyant by David Chariandy (e-book | talking book | book club set)

Soucouyant by David ChariandySet in Scarborough in the 1970s, David Chariandy's debut novel centres on Adele, a Black woman of mixed race who immigrated from Trinidad in the 1960s and now suffers from early onset dementia. The story is told from the perspective of the son who has returned to care for his deteriorating mother and the collapsing family home. In Caribbean folklore, a soucouyant is an evil bloodsucking spirit; the publisher notes that here the soucouyant is a symbol "of the distant and dimly remembered legacies that continue to haunt the Americas." This beautifully told, complex novel was nominated for ten literary prizes, including the 2008 Toronto Book Award. Look for Chariandy's second novel, Brother, to be published sometime next year.


What We All Long For by Dionne Brand (ebook | talking book)

What We All Long For by Dionne BrandThe city is a major character in Dionne Brand's third novel, which won the 2006 Toronto Book Award. This book gives voice to the experiences of four twenty-something second-generation Torontonians - Tuyen, Carla, Oku, and Jackie - as they struggle with identity, displacement, and desire. There are are also brief, evocative glimpses of Toronto's Black communities of the past, such as passages that describe nights out at the Paramount Tavern and the Elephant Walk Club, two infamous clubs on Spadina Avenue in the 1970s. Brand is also an award-winning poet whose long poem thirsty also explores the many cultural intersections in Toronto.


T-Dot Griots: An Anthology of Toronto's Black Storytellers, edited by Karen Richardson and Steven Green

FT-Dot Griots edited by Karen Richardson and Steven Greenrom the afterword: "We are Toronto's Black storytellers; standing together in hopes that the world might see us, Africans in a foreign land where transplanted roots fight for a foothold in the snow. This winter I am hopeful. I look forward to embracing fellow artists and friends. I am warmed by the fire in their words, soothed by the heat of their voices. From the Bluffs to the Caledon Hills, the Pickering power plant to Sky Dome, right up to the Maraine, my words find residence. I hear the crackling syllables on open stages and I know something is happening. Our words live here and in case you haven't noticed - so do we."


 You may also enjoy these books by more of Toronto's Black storytellers:

            Women Do This Every Day by Lillian Allen Motion in Poetry by MotionBrown Girl in the Ring by Nalo HopkinsonThe Heart Does Not Bend by Makeda Silvera


For related reading, check out Katherine's post Canadian and Black on the Toronto Reference Library blog.

You may also be interested in the Toronto Public Library's collection of materials on the Black historical and cultural experience, with special emphasis on Canadian material: The Rita Cox Black and Caribbean Heritage Collection.

Do you have a favourite book about the Black experience in Toronto? Please share it in the comments section below!

2014: The Year of the Horse

January 31, 2014 | Winona | Comments (0)

Happy New Year! Kung Hei Fat Choy 恭喜發財! According to the lunar calendar, the new moon on Friday January 31, 2014, marks the Year of the Horse. To celebrate the Year of the Horse, here is a selection of Toronto Public Library resources related to Chinese New Year and to the animal of the year: the Horse!

2014 Year of the Horse Canada Post stamp
Canada Post Year of the Horse stamp
What the Rat Told Me illu zodiac
Illustration from What the Rat Told Me by Marie Sellier and Catherine Louis, illustrated by Wang Fei

The Horse is the seventh animal in a cycle of 12 animals in Chinese astrology. Discover the legend of how each animal came to be a part of the zodiac in these books for young readers:  

 The Rooster's Antlers by Eric Kimmel The Animals of the Chinese Zodiac by Susan Whitfield illu Philippa-Alys Browne What the Rat Told Me by Marie Sellier The Great Race by Dave Bouchard

What the Rat Told Me illu horse
Illustration from What the Rat Told Me by Marie Sellier and Catherine Louis, illustrated by Wang Fei

The Horse is beautiful, powerful, wild, and free. Those born in the Year of the Horse - 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014 and so on in 12-year recurrences - may share these characteristics.

Learn more about Chinese astrology and your animal sign, and find out what the Year of the Horse has in store for you:

The Handbook of Chinese Horoscopes by Theodora and Laura Lau The Complete Guide to Chinese Astrology by Derek Walters Your Chinese Horoscope 2014 by Neil Somerville  The Chinese Astrology Bible by Derek Walters

Just as each year in the 12-year cycle is associated with an animal, each animal is associated with one of five recurring elements: Metal, Water, Wood, Fire, and Earth. 2014 is the Year of the Wood Horse.

Read about the lives of notable people born in the Year of the Wood Horse:   

  Martha Graham by Victoria Thoms K Blows Top by Peter Carlson  The Prince, the Princess, and the Perfect Murder by Andrew Rose Aldous Huxley Selected Letters by Aldous Huxley

  • The library has lots of books about horses for adults, teens, and for children.   
  • You can also borrow a DVD about horses
  • Did you know: the expression "straight from the horse's mouth" comes from the fact that the best way to figure out the age of a horse is to examine its teeth? Connect to the e-book Horse to learn more fun facts about horses.  
  • Have you ever wanted to learn how to ride a horse? We've got books on that too!
By Yann Arthus-Bertrand
Photo by Yann Arthus-Bertrand from Horses

Humans and horses have been companions for thousands of years, all around the world, and the horse features prominently in the folklore of many cultures. Read about horses of myth, legend, and lore:

  Magic Hoofbeats by Josepha Sherman Horses of Myth by Gerald Hausman The Mythology of Horses by Gerald Hausman Horse Tales by June Crebbin

Humans also have a long history of hitching their hopes to horses in sport. Read about the allure of the track in these books about race horses and horse racing:

 Battleship by Dorothy Ours  My Year of the Racehorse by Kevin Chong  Seasbiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand  A Year at the Races by Jane Smiley


A perennial favourite literary horse is Black Beauty. Black Beauty: The Autobiography of a Horse tells the story of the cruelty and kindness experienced by one horse throughout his lifetime. The novel was originally published in 1877 and has since become a children's classic and an animal rights manifesto.

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell embroidered cover by Jillian Tamaki

Here are some other wonderful books with horses at their heart:

  The Horse Whisperer Gray Horses by Hope Larson The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse by Eric Carle  Horse Stories edited by Diana Secker

Happy Year of the Horse everybody!

Patti Smith Group - Horses - 1976 by thegirlstheyrock 

Related blog post: 2013: The Year of the Snake

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