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July 2014

Dueling reviews: Helen and Troy's Epic Road Trip by A. Lee Martinez

July 31, 2014 | Cameron | Comments (6) Facebook Twitter More...


Journey to the heart Land

Librarian Review:

Step right up and test your strength and your sense of humour. Helen and Troy are on a journey through magical america in order to end a curse placed upon them by an ancient God. They must endeavour upon a pilgrimage throughout out the United States to save themselves from an unsure fate worse than death.

Helen and Troy are two typical teens in America who work at a burger joint and their lives are thrown in an act of fate when a creature appears to them one night and gives them directions on what they have to do in order to stop the curse that has randomly been placed on them and to save their lives.

This book is LOL funny and an awesome look at greek myths and mythos set in a contemporary world. If you enjoyed the Percy Jackson series than this may be a book for you to check out. Personally this librarian loves anything that A. Lee Martinez has ever written.

Youth Review:

Helen and Troy’s epic road quest is a fast paced, magical and whimsical book filled with Greek mythology and snappy comebacks that I think everyone should read once in their lives (if you have read the Percy Jackson series or the Heroes of Olympus series, then you’ll definitely adore this one!). Helen is an enchanted American and is the first fully fledged centaur in centuries. But she’s still a teenage girl who’s self conscious about her body and the way her fur smells when it rains. Then, there’s Troy, the typical all around perfect guy who everyone loves. The book starts off in their adventure quickly. Their boss at the burger joint they work at tries to revive his god, but dies trying and the god sets Helen and Troy up on a quest. There is a spark of romance that starts up between them, which has been there for a while, that they’ve been ignoring for a while. But it will eventually come out. I would give this book a 5 on 5!





Paintless Street Art

July 31, 2014 | Alice | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

Emeza_anti-graffiti via openclipart dot com*PAINT*less. Jeez. ;)

Yes, you can. You CAN have street art with no spray cans, no brushes, no markers or stencils. So, uh, what's that look like, then, you might ask? Well, for one thing, it usually doesn't go by the name of graffiti. Same guerilla art heart, different exterior, and often seen more as community minded, rather than about the individual.

What might make it community-minded? There are, in some cases, community-supported painting spaces, even in Toronto. But often it's something more temporary and easier to remove, so partly, it seems less like vandalism. And in some cases, it's something that involves people in the community. Something open-ended, that they can contribute to and join in on, something that can bring them together. (Though, in a lot of cases like that, permissions have actually been sought.)

Community_Garden_Letterboxes via WikimediaCommunity gardens or playgrounds springing up in abandoned lots being reclaimed by the community can be like this - one day, the whole community just pitches in and turns something useless and ugly into something for them all to share. In New York, this started among some dirty and dangerous empty lots in the lower east side and alphabet city, and grew into a movement. Some of them are pretty impressive, and now are used to grow food, as well!

Continue reading "Paintless Street Art" »

Contest: AudioSplice v. 5

July 31, 2014 | Alice | Comments (4) Facebook Twitter More...

Ben_Turntable from openclipart dot org
Turntable image from

What's an AudioSplice?

The Basics:

I've taken little snippets of a handful of songs and smashed them together into a sort of sonic puzzle for you to figure out. There is also a theme that links the songs somehow for you to work out, to help you along and make it a little more fun.

So what do you need to do? Listen carefully! Try to identify as many songs as you can, look for that link between them, and leave your guesses in comments. If no one is getting close after a couple of days, I may come back and leave a hint below...

Winners of book prizes will be the commenters who a) get the link and the most songs, and b) enter the most amusing guess at the link (even if they are wrong). And by amusing, I mean it amuses me. ;)

This Week's Puzzle:

Five Songs. One theme to link them. A few rules:

  • In order to qualify to win this contest, you have to live in the city of Toronto.
  • You have to provide a valid email address - otherwise we can't contact you to let you know you've won the contest! We promise to keep your email confidential - for more information about this, see the privacy statement below.
  • You have to have submitted your entry by Sunday, August 3rd at 11:59 PM.


AudioSplice July 31


The boring legal stuff:

Your name, your e-mail address, the books you read and your thoughts about them are your Ipad-minipersonal information. Why do we need your personal information here?  Well, we want to publish your reviews, and we need your name and e-mail address to help administer the contest.  The Public Libraries Act is the law that lets us do this.  We'll be protecting your privacy every step of the way, but if you have any questions about how we're going to do that, you can contact TPL's Privacy & Records Management Officer, 789 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON, M4W 2G8, 416-395-5658 or by e-mail at [email protected] 

"Make Way for the Bad Guy"

July 31, 2014 | Monica | Comments (14) Facebook Twitter More...

Damon-SalvatoreWhether it be in books, movies, or on TV, there is always a character that you don’t know what to make of. Instead, you have this weird mix of feelings for them. You like them, you hate them, you want them to change, but then again, you don’t. Sometimes you can’t stand them, and yet you want to read/see more of them, and above all, you want to find redeeming qualities, so that you can justify why you have this draw towards them. For me, one of my favourite current baddies is Damon Salvatore from the Vampire Diaries. Unfortunately, the books lost their appeal for me after the third installment, but I think the TV show is just fantastic and Ian Somerhalder is the perfect baddie, who you just don’t want to hate (or you can’t hate? Not sure which one it is!). Draco Malfoy and Severus Snape were another two that I had a love/hate relationship with. With Draco, the love/hate feelings weren’t as strong for the book character, but they were with the actor that played him in the movie (Tom Felton did a great job). There was something about the blonde hair and smirk that was comical and likeable for me. Plus he was a coward, so I think I felt a little bad for him too.

Here are my top 5 Baddies that I love to hate:

1. Damon from Vampire Diaries
2. Catwoman
3. Gollum from The Lord of the Rings
4. Loki from Thor
5. Tony Montana from Scarface

Let me know which bad guys (or gals) you love to hate.

Words and dreams and magic books -- THE GREEN MAN reviewed

July 30, 2014 | Ken Sparling | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

Book cover the green man by michael bedardThe Green Man by Michael Bedard

Reviewed by Edmee, age 19

“You can’t turn around in our family without running into a poet,” says O, the protagonist of Michael Bedard’s The Green Man. Bedard’s enchanting story follows fifteen-year-old O, a strong-minded and charming girl with a father obsessed with Ezra Pound and an eccentric aunt who makes her living through her secondhand bookshop called the Green Man. After Aunt Emily has a heart attack, O moves into the bookshop’s attic for the summer. There, she can keep a better eye on her nervous and sickly aunt, and in a space surrounded by words and — to O’s initial skepticism — ghosts, O begins to find her own poetic voice.

Poetry, however, seems to go hand in hand with madness. An acclaimed but impoverished poet, Emily struggles. She insists O sidestep a spot on the stairs, claiming that the dead poet Mallarmé sits there. She holds entire conversations while she sits alone in a room. She’s plagued by nightmares about children taking part in an unsettling magic show, disappearing into mirrors and being run through by swords. While O is willing to help run the shop, will she ever be able to help Emily overcome what seems to be the spell of a dream? Or is the realm of words and dreams and magic books much more than it seems?

Mini-Writing Contest # 5 -- July 30 to August 4

July 30, 2014 | Christine | Comments (11) Facebook Twitter More...

Hey everyone! Welcome back for Mini-Writing Contest Number 5. :)

To start, let me ask you a few questions. Where do you like to keep things? Do you have a special place where you hide the things you want to keep forever? Is it out in the open where everyone can see, or is it hidden in a place that only you can find?

Listed below are ten containers that can be used to store things. Pick one from the list, or make up your own, and write down what kinds of things you would place inside of it.

Goldfish bowl
Golf bag
Pencil case
Cardboard box
Rubber boot
Coffee cup
Lunch box
Steamer trunk

The items inside the containers can be anything you’d like, big or small, real or imagined, and you can name as many as you want. So, what kinds of things would you keep?

Please keep in mind the following contest rules:
1. You have to live in Toronto to win this contest.
2. You have to provide a valid e-mail address so we can contact you if you win a prize (see privacy statement for more info)
3. Your entry must be submitted by Monday at 11:59pm to be considered to win.
4. Winners will be announced the following Tuesday.

Have fun!

Your name, your e-mail address, the books you read and your thoughts about them are your personal information. Why do we need your personal information here?  Well, we want to publish your reviews, and we need your name and e-mail address to help administer the contest.  The Public Libraries Act is the law that lets us do this.  We'll be protecting your privacy every step of the way, but if you have any questions about how we're going to do that, you can contact TPL's Privacy & Records Management Officer, 789 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON, M4W 2G8, 416-395-5658 or by e-mail at [email protected]

Chicken and the Egg. An eternal puzzle.

July 30, 2014 | Ray | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

Awesome video that takes a crack at the timeless puzzle, which came first: the chicken or the egg?

Finally! A plausible explanation! But the T-Rex came first, amirite?

For more, check out the IFL Science article

De-Extinction, or why Jurassic Park will probably not happen.

July 30, 2014 | Ray | Comments (7) Facebook Twitter More...


Oh the thrills of Jurassic Park - a movie classic.  That scene with the T-Rex still scares me! (It's embedded below.)

De-extinction is a possibility, but even if we could bring back species, would it be the actual animal? We have no idea how the animal behaved, how it interacted with the local ecosystem and microbacteria, in fact it's sort of an egg-but-no-chicken idea.  Would a wolly mammoth behave and act like a woolly mammoth, or would it just look like one?  

Modern, backbred auroch. Note, it is way bigger than a large cow, more like an ox!

In Europe, they're successfully bringing back a lost species of wild cattle through a technique called backbreeding.  The animal is the auroch, which was included as a mythical creature in the magical movie, Beasts of the Southern Wild

 It's been so successful, they've recently released this backbred, wild-ish cattle in to the mountains of Eastern Europe.  Cool!  After 500 years, these creatures are re-inhabiting the mountains.  

I wonder what complications will come of this for the people living in and tourists visiting the mountains.



Passenger Pigeon

And then there's the mighty passenger pigeon.  Check out the fascinating discussion of undoing extinction with passenger pigeons through backbreeding and crossbreeding of its closest relatives.  Did you know that the ROM has the most specimens of this extinct bird?  Here's a podcast from CBC that goes in-depth on how it might actually work.  It's captivating to think about!

And here's the ROM's perspective on their drawers of passenger pigeons and what that means for scientists.



Curious to know more about de-extinction? Check out The Sixth Extinction on the Word Out Science List.



I love rewatching this movie clip and getting scared over and over.

Try, TRY to keep breathing.  It's scary!!

I'd rather revive the passenger pigeon than a T-Rex...just sayin'.

Out of all the extinct creatures, which one would you bring back? 

Rabbit hole of lists of known extinct creatures

...and can we get a count of how many screams happen in this clip?

And we thought the pet caiman was exotic...this is perhaps world's oldest 'pet'.

July 30, 2014 | Ray | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...


Pet Ham [photo from Isle of Wight County Museum]

Perhaps you heard about the brief case of the caimen in High Park's pond.  Here's another peculiar pet, one that is more eccentric than exotic: a cured ham.  You might say it is a cure-ious pet.

That's right. If you ever find yourself in Virginia, stop in at the Isle of Wight County Museum to check out the 112 year old ham.  I don't know of any other pet that is quite so old.  Not even 24 year old, Poppy,  the world's oldest cat  (recently passed on) came close to the age of this cured ham.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The Bookclub

July 30, 2014 | Naomi | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Cross posted on TPL Teens.

What?! A Word Out bookclub featuring an amazing graphic novel set in our very own Toronto? I know, I know, you want the details right...


Brian Lee O'Malley's "Scott Pilgrim: Precious Little Life" is #1 of a series of 6 graphic novels. Set in Toronto, Scott even visits TPLs Wychwood Branch and the Reference Library.  He also spends a lot of time at Sneaky Dee's, an awesome divey sort of restaurant/bar that serves amazing nachoes at the corner of College and Bathurst.  But enough about nachoes... So Scott is this guy, early 20s and he's in a band, loves hanging out with his friends and has a girlfriend, 17 yr. old Knives (who is awesome). Along comes the mysterious and equally awesome Ramona Flowers for whom Scott falls deeply.  But there is a catch - in order to be with her, he has to battle her 7 evil ex-boyfriends.  Is he up for the challenge?  You have to read all 6 to find out!


Or, you could watch the 2010 Blockbuster, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, starring our very own local Bramptonian, Michael Cera. 

Read them on your own and submit a review to the Word Out website to win a prize OR, join me at Maria A. Shchuka in August to discuss the book and watch the film. Call 416-394-1001 to register.