Friday, November 27, 2015

Favourite Books of the Year from John Mutford, Yellowknife Public Library

 Scott McCloud – The Sculptor
Scott McCloud is perhaps best known for his 1993 masterpiece, Understanding Comics, a must-read for anyone getting serious about comics.
Clearly McCloud knows his way around the medium. But that book was largely technical. Understanding and appreciating the complexities and subtleties that go into a comic is not the same as being able to create one. Can McCloud pull off a fictional story, a creation of his own?
Without a doubt.
Impress over the technique behind The Sculptor all you want, but before long it will become impossible not to be caught up in the story.
The titular sculptor goes by the rather generic name of David Smith, who makes a deal with death.  For a few short months Smith will be able to sculpt anything, out of anything, with his bare hands. And then he will die. That, however, becomes complicated when he falls in love. Despite that, The Sculptor is not a love story…or at least, not simply a love story. It’s also a treatise about art; the business, the legacy, the meaning, and purpose of art. It's absolutely gorgeous.

Sheila Watt-Cloutier – The Right to be Cold
Our library has Sheila Watt-Cloutier's The Right to be Cold classified in the biography section (which also includes autobiographies and memoirs). The title, however, suggests something different. It's "The Right to Be Cold," not, "My Right to Be Cold," after all.
So did my library catalogue it incorrectly? Perhaps it would better fit under ecology? Or perhaps philosophy? In the end, however, I think the classification is apt. Cloutier begins by describing her early life in Kuujjuaq, northern Quebec. And her own life very much remains at the center of the book. Sharing details about her residential school experience, her marriage, her father, and so forth, I wondered when she might get to "the right to be cold." She does, to be sure, but it's past the midway of the book. There's actually almost as much about her fight against POPs; the pesticides and other synthetic chemicals to wind up in the winds, making their way to Arctic and the food chain.
However, Watt-Cloutier does lead us, eventually, to the right to be cold and it's her arguments here that make me suspect none of this arrangement of details was haphazard. She rails against global warming campaigns that do not put a human face on the tragedy. Polar bears are usually at the center of such campaigns, with nary an Inuk in sight. By telling her own story, she submits herself, essentially as Exhibit A. You want to talk about change in the Arctic? You want to talk about how it affects people? Here she is.
But it also helps support her other argument: that we're all connected. Hers is a message of holistic health. As she gets her own life in order, taking care of herself spiritually, socially, physically, and so forth; as she reconciles her choices and her circumstances, seeks a greater understanding, all in an effort to become a complete human being, she advocates the same for the Earth and the human race. We cannot be a healthy planet without a healthy Arctic and we cannot be a healthy human race if we forget about the Inuit. 
This is Watt-Cloutier’s life, but it’s also ours.

John is the Public Services Librarian at Yellowknife Public Library

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Fave Books of Erin Grittani from Mabel's Fables!

Being a children’s bookseller at Mabel's Fables means that not only am I introducing people to wonderful books, helping them to share their favourites with little ones in their lives and connecting children with inspiring, engaging, on the edge of your seat reads but that I, myself, am always reading. I go home and kick back after a long day of being surrounded by books to my very comfy couch surrounded by…well…towers of books! Here are just a couple of books, from a long list of 2015 favourite releases. I am honoured to be able to share them with you.

I finished this book and immediately had a sense of panic set in- how long would I have to wait for the next one?!?!? Action, adventure, kids needing to rise to their true potential and overcoming all odds- all with an underlying dialogue about the dangers of environmental overconsumption and the exploitation that exists in the mining industry. AND IN TAKES PLACE IS SPACE! What’s not to love??? What Sylvester did with this one is pretty brilliant- at no point do we learn the exact ages of the kids in the book, allowing readers of different ages to really see themselves in the characters’ shoes. He also uses culturally diverse names. This was a fantastic read with a major cliffhanger! BRING ON #2! (*watch out for deaths of parents for any particularly sensitive readers*)

Another 2015 love. Neil Pasricha, author of The Book of Awesome, takes a first crack at writing for children with this one and it’s beautiful! Not only visually stunning and interactive, this book introduces the concept of mindfulness to children. Increasingly, I am asked for books that focus on opening a dialogue on mental health with young ones- either at home or in the classroom. Pasricha has created a stunning book that helps teach kids about being in the moment and about perspective all the way down to the significance of a single grain of sand. With a positive, inspiring spin on mental health & carrying on the spirit of the Book of Awesome, this book has nailed it!
Erin Grittani is the BOOKS FOR SCHOOLS MANAGER  at Mabel’s Fables Bookstore in Toronto. She works directly with educators to help them curate their school collections, make curriculum ties and bring the best books into their schools. To connect with her to learn more about Mabel’s school services, please email her at

Friday, November 20, 2015

Fave books of the year!

We have asked some of our favourite readers across the country to tell us about their fave books of the year. It was no easy task for these folks to come up with their top two and we applaud them for their efforts! First up is Chris Hall co-owner of McNally Robinson the awesome Prairie bookseller.

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald. The more I read about H is for Hawk the more compelling it seemed and so I took the bait and read the book itself. It didn't disappoint. In fact it's easily the best book I read this year. Macdonald, cast adrift by the death of her father, decides to adopt and train a goshawk but that premise barely begins to describe what the book is about. The writing is startling and as vigorous as the goshawk whose raw energy sits at the core of the book. Captivating, and now I have a fascination with hawking and I know a goshawk from an austringer.
The Hunter and the Wild Girl by Pauline Holdstock. Pauline Holdstock came to my attention when she made the Giller Prize shortlist in 2004 for Beyond Measure, a fascinating novel about the world of art in 16th century Italy. With her new novel, Holdstock takes us to 19th century France where Peyre Rouff has retreated from the world after suffering a tragedy. But a feral girl crashes into his calm and wrenches him free of his estrangement in a subtly told story about a man who can't avoid the consequences of the choices he makes. 

About McNally Robinson from Chris:

"McNally Robinson is an independent bookseller: family-oriented, committed to the values of community bookselling, and determined to present an alternative to corporate-chain bookstores. Our focus is on Canada, and we work closely with authors and publishers to reach Canadians with their own stories. Moreover, we select all our books, wherever written, to reflect the interests and circumstances of Canadians.We firmly believe in a literate society: one in which reading is co-relative with a thoughtful, imaginative and fulfilled life. We have stores in Winnipeg and Saskatoon".

If you are out that way, a stop in is MANDATORY!