Library Happenings, by Alison McCorkle

Autumn is a very busy time of year here in the library.  Young families are getting back into school time routines which often include regular visits to the library.  Recent topics of   interest that have popped up during these visits have been books about Minecraft and books about LEGO.  We have many fiction books based on LEGO, from leveled readers through to chapter books and even a chapter book series on Minecraft.  For those interested in improving their game, these are some titles that may interest you:  Tips For Kids: Minecraft: Cool Projects For Your LEGO Bricks by Joachim Klang, Lego by Sara Green, Brick Vehicles: Amazing Air, Land and Sea Machines to Build From LEGO by Warren Elsmore and LEGO Play Book: Ideas to Bring Your Bricks to Life by Daniel Lipkowitz.  With all of these wonderful LEGO books and the children’s interest to inspire us, the library held its annual LEGO Contest (this year it had a Canadian theme in honour of Canada’s 150th birthday) Saturday 7 October 2017.

For our adult patrons, one of my all-time favourite fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin has regained its original popularity and then some, due to the HBO series A Game of Thrones, which is the title of the first book of the series and was a Best Book of 1996.  We want to have our patrons enjoy this cultural phenomenon with other like-minded adults so we are having A Game of Thrones Challenge for adults 18 and over in the New Liskeard branch on Saturday 4 November 2017 from 1:30—3:00 p.m.  Register early, as we’re hoping it will be very popular and space is limited.  The program is 50 trivia questions based on the 1st book/season and is all multiple choice.  To answer, you just need to hold up the paddle with your choice of A, B, C or D on it.  Come out and join the fun!  Bring a friend and challenge each other.  There are prizes to be won!  We are really looking forward to seeing you at the library. It is not just about books anymore.

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The Temiskaming Shores Public Library is preparing to host its annual pumpkin decorating contest!

Because it’s Canada’s 150th birthday, we invite people to decorate a pumpkin with a Canadian literary character.

You can’t think of many Canadian literary characters?

The Franklin the Turtle series by Paulette Bourgeois is Canadian. So is, Scaredy Squirrel by Mélanie Watt, Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne, Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery, the Stella and Sam series by Marie-Louise Gay, any characters from Robert Munsch’s books and the Caillou series by Hélèn Desputeau. That should give you a good start.

After you have your character, you can paint and/or use props to decorate the pumpkin so it resembles the character you’ve chosen.

When your pumpkin is ready, take a picture of it beside the story book that your character is from. You can either bring that picture to the New Liskeard or Haileybury branch of the library or email it along with your name, phone number, age, and character’s name to NewLiskeard@temisklibrary.com.

Entries must be submitted by October 25.

Children aged six to twelve are also welcome to join us on October 21st from 10:30 to 12 noon at the New Liskeard branch to paint and decorate a pumpkin. Space is limited to it’s important to stop by or call the library at 705-647-4215 to register.

We will print off the pictures of the entries we receive and display them in the Libraries. From October 26 to 28 people are welcome to stop by their branch to vote for their favourite pumpkin. It will be one vote per person, per day.

The three pumpkins with the most votes will win gift certificates to Chat Noir Books in New Liskeard.

We can’t wait to see your entries!

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Timeless Classics, by Catherine Gillier

It is the end of the glorious month of September.  And in classic fashion, the trees have begun to change colour.  The fall flowers are still in bloom.  At the library, some of the books on the shelf want patrons to realize how important it is to acknowledge and learn from some timeless classics.

Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951) has written many insightful books that criticise the structure within American society that encourages greed and selfish individualism. In BABBITT, Lewis creates a person who is strangling himself with material and social prosperity.  He becomes restless with the limitations of his life and mounts a rebellion against the social expectations set out for a man in his position.  Babbitt’s eyes are opened to the emptiness of the mainstream vision of success.  Perhaps this is a cautionary tale.

In IT CAN’T HAPPEN HERE, Lewis exposes the fragility of democracy.  The author takes an eerie look at how fascism can take hold in America.  The author juxtaposes political satire with the rise of a president who wants to save America from welfare cheats and a liberal free press.  Sound familiar?  Perhaps this 1935 novel is frighteningly contemporary.

Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1844) wrote classic tales of American colonial history.  He was born in Salem Massachusetts, and sadly aware of his society’s choice to expose witches and burn them at the stake in the name of righteous behaviour.  He wrote THE SCARLET LETTER in 1850, and within those pages the author is able to weave the timeless themes of sin, guilt and redemption together with the profound questioning of the human heart.  Perhaps this is a cautionary tale for all thinking citizens.  Some in the world are rushing to judge.  Should we not question the wisdom of following an enflamed crowd?

In THE METAMORPHOSES, Ovid (43 BCE – 17 CE) inverts the accepted order of the gods of ancient Rome.  He elevates humans and human passions while making the gods (and their somewhat petty desires and conquests) the objects of low humour; often portraying the gods as self-absorbed and vengeful.  Ovid emphasises that overly prideful behaviour is a fatal flaw which inevitably leads to a character’s downfall.

So ponder the message that each of these classics sends.  There is ruin when conventions are emptied of genuine meaning.  But humanity also has the ability to transform what is happening.  There just needs to be unpretentious courage and sincere empathy in order to give voice to those who are silenced under the roar of hubris.

All of these classic stories are waiting once again to be read.  Come to the library.  Open the door to so much more.

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Atlantic Writers, by Sue Culhane

The past few years has seen a rising number of writers from Atlantic Canada on the best seller lists. These voices are being heard not only throughout Canada but on the international stage as well.

The cultural heritage of East coast Canada has been shaped by a variety of influences and historical events and is now a complex mixture of British, French, aboriginal and African heritage. A history of conflict has influenced the culture – the expulsion of the Acadians in 1755 and the subsequent immigration of the New England Planters and the Loyalists who fled in the wake of the American Revolution are two such influences.

The Haileybury Branch of the Temiskaming Shores Library has a number of books by these inspiring writers in its collection and not only are the books entertaining they also open the reader’s eyes to the character of the area.

Donna Morrissey has written three books about the Now family of Newfoundland.  The first is “Sylvanus Now”, followed by “What they Wanted” and the third is “The Fortunate Brother”. The trilogy follows the trials and tribulations of the Now family who having been uprooted from their fishing out port truly reflect the history of Newfoundland.

Lisa Moore wrote a moving book about a tragedy that took place in 1982 when the oil rig Ocean Ranger sank killing all 84 men. The book is an award winner and was selected for the 2013 Canada Reads.

Alistair MacLeod is best known as a short story writer but he also wrote a number of novels including “No Great Mischief”. This book captures the charm of Cape Breton and was once voted as one of Atlantic Canada’s Greatest books. MacLeod died in 2014 after an illustrious career.

David Adams Richards based his book “Mercy Among Children” in New Brunswick and spans five decades. Again, the reader has an opportunity to spend some time in Atlantic Canada and gain a true sense of the hardships and the glory its inhabitants live through.

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Search and Find the Harvest, by Catherine Gillier

September has crept in under the guise of sunshine and moderate temperatures.  The autumn harvest is featuring pumpkins, squash, and lots of potatoes and carrots.  Here at the library, the crop of literature is growing.  Perhaps a few books can be plucked from the shelves and gathered up to be read.

A debut novel, written in 2017 by Ayobami Adebayo, is entitled STAY WITH ME.  The author was born in Nigeria, and that country is the geographical and cultural setting for the story.  This book is well-written, and allows the reader multiple perspectives.  A young couple has fallen in love and they marry.  Contrary to their culture, both people have chosen to see polygamy as a practice not suited to their union.  However, after four years of enduring parental interference, and being unable to conceive, life changes for the couple.  The husband is introduced to a young woman.  The wife, Yejide, is very angry and very jealous.  She knows that the only way to save her marriage is to get pregnant.  But what are the consequences if she succeeds?  This book demonstrates the quality and fearlessness of the female spirit.  The damage inflicted by male pride is also evident.  But the author writes with an emotional and literary profundity that reveals the love, the secrets and the decisions that strengthen and alter the path of life.

STRANGERS WITH THE SAME DREAM by Alison Pick is a thought-provoking and sensitive novel that explores the many sides of the flawed human being.  And it explores a darker utopia that haunts the present day.  The time is 1921.  Three Jewish pioneers set out to create a utopian dream.  These are three blemished human spirits.  One is charismatic and volatile.  One is escaping the violence that is about to explode in Europe.  And one is a wife and mother, unsure of her role in the world.  The story is a story of human entanglements, historical geography, and the inability or unwillingness to acknowledge and understand different cultures.  How do people who are isolated, haunted by ghosts, and worn down by hardship and secrets ever learn to survive?  What is really inside the human heart?

THE PRICE OF ILLUSION is a memoir by Joan Juliet Buck.  This is a sad story of a life lived under a domineering and fragile father.  And a life lived in all the creative tinsel-towns that Ms Buck thought she wanted to be part of.  As a young person, Joan Juliet Buck learns the unspoken lesson that appearances matter more than reality.  But glitter needs to be distinguished from substance.  Here is a very lonely woman who, in later life, discovers that what she needed was much different from what she actually received.  There is a high price to be paid for illusion.

Karolyn Smardz Frost has written a 2017 biography of Cecelia Jane Reynolds entitled STEAL AWAY HOME.  This is the story of one woman’s epic flight to freedom, and her long road back to the South.  Ms Reynolds was a young woman of teenage years in 1846 when she made her escape from southern slavery.  This dangerous pathway to freedom meant that she had to leave behind cherished family members.  In Toronto, where she found a vibrant African-American community, Cecelia fell in love with the man who rescued her.  She also initiated a correspondence with her former owner that would continue for two decades.  Ms Reynolds eventually returned to the Kentucky she had known as a child.  Much had changed since the war.  This biography weaves the life of a single courageous woman into the complex tapestry of race relations.  Pull a few threads to remind yourself of the place you have in the textile.

So as the autumn ushers in the new school year for many, let us remember that knowledge is free at the library.  There are thought-provoking stories in many of the books here.  Be open to different cultures.  Allow your perception to understand situations from many angles.  Seek out what is genuine, and remember the tribulations of others.  Take joy into your life.  Acknowledge the treasures close by.  Come to the library.  Open the door to so much more.

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Preserving, by Sue Culhane

As Fall approaches our routines change and everyday life brings different activities. The lawn mower is put away and we prepare for what is soon to come. And here, in northern Ontario, we know too well what to expect. However, this area is blessed with a preponderance of beautiful vegetables and fruit plus a number of venues where these can be purchased so even those of us who don’t grow our own are able to enjoy the flavours of fall.

At the Haileybury Branch of the Temiskaming Shores Library we have some books that may help you to extend the life of this produce. “Preserving: The Canning and Freezing Guide for All Seasons” by Pat Crocker is an amazing guide to preserving all manner of fruits and vegetables. “Preserving” is very well organized. It is divided into seasonal sections focussing on foods that are available at a particular time of year. For instance, the section on Spring gives directions on preserving rhubarb, certain herbs and asparagus among others. The other three seasons are represented by a wide variety of produce. The instructions given are detailed including preparation methods, different ways of preserving and also recipes that use the preserved food.

Combine all this information with Crocker’s own lush photographs and you have a delightful book that is very entertaining.

“Preserving in Today’s Kitchen” by Jeanne Lesem is certainly not as visually appealing as Crocker’s book but nevertheless is a very useful book for the home cook. It has 168 recipes for preserving a variety of foods but also some very interesting facts and quotes.

Many of the other cook books in the collection have sections on preserves also and we invite you to come in and browse.

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Moon Shadow, by Catherine Gillier

It is the end of August now, and the moon-shadow has passed.  Here at the library, stories that call into question the tattered relationship that man has toward humanity need to be acknowledged and read.  Here are a few:

HEADHUNTER by Timothy Findley, brings to life a quilted mix of twisted yet believable characters.  This psychological tale throws a dark slant on twenty-first century Toronto.  It reveals what ‘horror’ truly means to the modern citizen.  Perhaps not everything can be discovered until the reader learns to listen to the words between the lines.  Is there not a sense of foreboding that permeates the book from the very beginning?  Think about it.

Robert Louis Stevenson captures a brilliant realisation of the ‘ghostly twin infecting the soul’ in his book DR. JEKYLL AND MR HYDE.  The doctor, whose reckless genius strives to bring his appalling double to life, attempts to purify himself.  All human beings, as we meet them, are commingled out of good and evil.  The doctor’s drug was meant to separate the evil from the good.  The result?  Edward Hyde, who, in the ranks of mankind, was pure evil.  Stevenson’s dark tale is a metaphysical statement of stunning astuteness.  It is perhaps the finest horror story in our language.

Mary Shelley wanted to write a book that ‘would speak to the mysterious fears of our nature and awaken thrilling horror’.  Although Shelley was born in 1797, this book is timeless.  Every age holds out opportunity for new development and new technology.  All of us are born within a culture.  There is a symbiotic relationship between the human being and the world within which he lives.  In the living world, both the citizen and the world around him continue to change.  But the symbiotic relationship among all changing, living things must continue to advance.  It is said that Viktor Frankenstein created a terrible creature.  But Viktor was an educated man who wanted to push the boundaries of science without acknowledging his obligation to think through the consequences.  He created something, yet he did not provide the culture and the nurturing necessary for the ‘experiment’ to survive.  The question then becomes:  Who is the real monster?

THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY by Oscar Wilde is a story published in 1891, and it can still be seen as a penetrating commentary on life.  A young, handsome Dorian Gray has his portrait painted.  He wants to retain the appearance of innocent beauty, and to transfer the shame of all his vices into the features of his portrait.  Tempted by the cynical nature of some of the upper class, Dorian’s power for evil leads to acts of intemperance, indulgence, debauchery, and finally to murder.  The hideous record of evil that must be hidden from the world is inscribed into the face of the portrait.  How much of that real ugliness also is written into the man himself?

So let us remember that we all live in this world together.  Listen carefully to what is happening.  And remember this story:

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life.  “A fight is going on inside me.  It is a terrible fight, and it is between two wolves.  One is evil – he is envy, greed, arrogance, self-pity, superiority and ego.  The other is good – he is hope, love, humility, kindness, empathy, truth and compassion.”  The little boy asked him, “Which wolf will win?”  The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Come to the library.  Open the door to so much more.

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