Top Ten Tuesday: Book Club Picks

This week’s theme is a lot of fun – top ten book club picks! One of my favourite genres, and one that I think is woefully under-appreciated, is nonfiction. And so, here are ten nonfiction titles to try out with your book club. I’ve tried to pick titles with broad appeal that will encourage discussion and conversation.

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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Science, race, family, ethics, economics and politics collide in the fascinating story of Henrietta Lacks and her incredible cells.

The Devil in the White City – The stories of two men, one a sinister murderer and the other the architect behind the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, collide in this gripping true tale of crime and commerce.

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Into Thin Air – A thrilling account of the disastrous 1996 Everest season, in which 11 climbers lost their lives.

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat – Neurologist Oliver Sacks beautifully and sympathetically recounts some of the strangest and most fascinating cases he encountered during his long career.

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In a Sunburned Country – Pretty much any books by Brill Bryson is a good choice for a book club, but this exploration of Australia is one of Bryson’s laugh out loud funniest.

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void – Mary Roach always manages to make hard science accessible and often hilarious. This look at space exploration is fascinating, cheeky and highly informative.

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Working in the Shadows – A journalist spends a year undercover working the jobs “most Americans won’t do”, revealing the plight of undocumented migrants and poor Americans in this fascinating, at times heartbreaking account of life in the shadows.

52 Loaves – This hilarious account follows one man’s obsession to bake the perfect loaf of bread.

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The Omnivore’s Dilemma – Explore the natural history of cooking and food and take a hard look at the modern Western diet and what it means for the future of our society as a whole.

Orange is the New Black – When a successful young woman is sent to prison for a crime she committed years before, she discovers an entirely new world behind bars. An eye-opening, compassionate look at prison life.

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Top Ten Tuesday – Halloween Picture Books

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the bookishly inclined team over at The Broke and the Bookish.

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This week’s theme is a Halloween-freebie, so I’ve decided to share ten of my favourite picture books for Halloween picture books!

Go Away Big Green Monster – A perfect monster book for your littlest patrons. Even timid children will enjoy shouting out “go away!” as you disassemble the big green monster.

Click Clack Boo – A Tricky Treat – Those crazy farm animals from Click Clack Moo are back, and this time they’re planning a sneaky surprise for Halloween-hating Farmer Brown.

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Creepy Carrots – Jasper Rabbit loves carrots. He eats them all day every day. But what happens when the carrots have had enough…..?

How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? – Fall is all about pumpkins, and this great picture book, with its diverse cast of characters, introduces STEM themes in a fun fall way.

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Pumpkin Trouble – Trust Jan Thomas to create a silly, simple pumpkin story that will have kids in stitches!

Where’s My Mummy? – This little baby mummy loves playing hide-and-seek, but who will comfort baby mummy when the deep dark woods spook him? Mommy mummy, of course!

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Ghosts in the House! – I love Kazuno Kohara’s minimalist illustrations in this sweet and spooky story of a little girl and her haunted house.

Mouse’s First Halloween – A sweet, not-scary story perfect for the littlest ghouls and goblins.

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Pumpkin Eye – A poetic Halloween celebration that’s a little bit spooky, but not too scary.

Peek-A-Boooo! – A fun lift-the-flap book that’s perfect for babies and toddlers.

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Have a spooktacular Halloween, everyone!

Top Ten Tuesday – Recommended Recommenders

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the bookishly inclined team over at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s prompt is recommendations, and today I’m going to talk about a few of my favourite sources of bookish inspiration. I follow a lot of blogs, and narrowing the list down to ten was a bit of a challenge! I can always rely on these sites/sources to inspire me and fill my wish list with fantastic book suggestions. And because sharing is caring, I’m going to share them with you!

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The Book Wars

OK, I’ll admit it, I’m a bit biased here, because in addition to Raincity Librarian I also blog over at The Book Wars. In my defence,  I was inspired to join the brilliant Book Warriors because I admired and was inspired by these children’s literature aficionados. The original four bloggers behind the site are all graduates of the Masters of Children’s Literature program at the University of British Columbia, so they definitely know a thing or two about children’s books! The team has now grown to include a children’s librarian and a graphic novels specialist, so there’s really something for everyone at The Book Wars. Be sure to check it out and subscribe!

There’s a Book for That

Carrie Gelson is a fellow Canadian, as well as a passionate children’s book lover and educator. Her Monday posts are guaranteed to have you running to the library and filling up your basket with heaps of fantastic children’s books. Carrie is also an active Twitter user, so definitely make sure you’re following her!

The Logonauts

I work in a highly diverse city, and being able to connect my patrons with an inclusive array of materials is such an important part of my work. The Logonauts is dedicated to celebrating fantastic children’s books with a diverse and global  focus, and is the driving force behind the DiverseKidsLit linkup. A visit here never fails to inspire me.

Gathering Books

The majority of the books available in libraries in my area come from our neighbours down south, which isn’t a bad thing in itself – you Yankees make a lot of fantastic books! But the world is a big old place full of brilliant minds, incredible talents and fascinating cultures, and the team at Gathering Books are always introducing me to exciting new-to-me books that I immediately want to get my hands on. If you’re looking for a children’s literature blog with a global approach, definitely follow Gathering Books.

Kid Lit Frenzy

Alison Beecher is the queen of children’s nonfiction, and the host of the Wednesday nonfiction picture book challenge. She regularly does previews of upcoming nonfiction titles, as well as blog tours, interviews and giveaways. If you’re looking for nonfiction inspiration, this is definitely the place to be.

Unleashing Readers

Yet another teacher-led blog, Unleashing Readers is all about connecting readers of all ages and levels with inspiring, engaging books. They regularly participate in linkups and memes like Top Ten Tuesday and IMWAYR, and regularly review children’s materials represented a range of themes, formats, genres and levels. A great all-around children’s book resource.

Nerdy Book Club

Nerdy Book Club isn’t just a blog, it’s a community. Teachers, librarians, bloggers, writers, reviewers, readers and other children’s literature lovers share their thoughts, ideas, impressions and opinions to create an inclusive and inspiring online community.

Fab Book Reviews

Oh, Canada! We do have some pretty fantastic bloggers up here, if I do say so myself. Check out Fab Book Reviews for “book reviews, pop culture & more bookish goodness from a librarian in Canada” – now that is definitely right up my alley! Michelle’s book reviews are fun and informative, and she reads and reviews a great variety of genres, themes, styles and subjects. There’s a little bit of everything for everyone!

Picture Books Blogger

Exactly what it says on the tin! This is really a go-to resource for anything and everything picture book. Fantastic reviews, awesome images, and a really great variety of old and new, well-known and obscure, local and global make this one of my favourite new-to-me book blogs.

Read it Real Good

Read it Real Good is a celebration of diverse voices in children’s literature. Blogger and bookseller Alia Jones definitely knows and loves children’s literature, and I’ve discovered so many fantastic titles through her thoughtful reviews. A really great resource for infusing new voices and perspectives into your reading and recommending.

Here Wee Read

Blogger, mother, computer programmer and book lover Charnaie shares reviews of children’s books that have been tested and approved by her own kidlets! She features a really great variety of titles, and I’ve discovered so many great titles on her beautiful, clearly organised blog.

So, even with an extra blog sneaked in  I’ve still got so many resources left to share! Maybe I’ll do another post sometime in the future with more of my favourite book blogs – the interwebs is bursting with inspiring and exciting bloggers who generously share their love for children’s books with us.

Be sure to check out these blogs, follow them if you’re new, and enjoy all the bookish goodness!

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Top Ten Tuesday – My Fall TBR Pile

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the bookishly inclined team over at The Broke and the Bookish.

There are so many books I can’t wait to read. So.  Many. Books.

One of the challenges with being a Canadian librarian is that you so often have to exercise that patience you were supposed to have developed in primary school. So many books come out later in Canada than they do in the United States, which means you have to sit patiently pining while all your American blogger friends rave about their favourite new books. Such sadness!

I also rely on the public library to meet my bookish needs, which sometimes means adding my name to waitlists so long they make your eyes water.

Here are just a few books I can’t wait to get my hands on.

Soon, my pretties….soon.

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The Liszts by Kyo Maclear

Leaping Lemmings! by John Biggs

Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke

Monsters Go Night-Night by Aaron Zenz

Bring Me a Rock by Daniel Miyares

Shy by Deborah Freedman

Hoot and Peep by Lita Judge

Before I Leave by Jennixa Bagley

The Secret Subway by Shana Corey

A Child of Books by  Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston

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So, what’s on your reading wish list this fall?

Top Ten Tuesday: Podcasts for the Bookishly Inclined

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by the book lovers over at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s these is all about audio. To be honest I’ve never been a huge fan of audio books – I don’t have anything against them in theory, I’ve just never really got the hang of them. So instead, I’m going to talk about some of my favourite bookish or literary podcasts!

Here, in no particular order,

SOME AWESOME BOOKISH PODCASTS!!

 S. S. Librarianship

Not only are the two librarians behind this podcast for “librarians and the nerds who love them” incredibly nice fellow-Vancouverites, they’re also funny, smart and incredibly geeky. Did I mention they’re also fellow Trekkies and D&D players? This podcast is perfect for librarians and information specialists, nerds and geeks of all kinds.

The Yarn

School librarian Travis Jonker and teacher Colby Sharp are the brilliant minds behind The Yarn. The series “goes behind the scenes of children’s literature, taking listeners on a narrative journey behind the making of a book.” The Yarn regularly features great children’s literature authors and illustrators, and past guests have included Patrick Ness, Rebecca Stead, Raina Telgemeier, David Levithan, and Salina Yoon. Perfect for teachers, librarians and children’s book lovers alike.

The Picturebooking Podcast

“A podcast about creating and sharing picturebooks” – now that’s a podcast that’s right up my alley! Host Nick Patton is a picture book author who interviews author picture book creators, whether they’re authors, illustrators, editors, publishers, or all of the above! A great look behind the scenes of the picture book world, perfect for teachers, librarians, booksellers, book bloggers, caregivers and aspiring authors/illustrators!

All the Wonders

All the Wonders describes itself as “Weekly interviews with Authors, Illustrators, Award Winners, Up-And-Comers, and Everyone In Between”. While The Picturebooking Podcast looks specifically at picture books, All the Wonders takes a broader look at children’s literature, taking in everything from picture books to graphic novels to middle grade fiction and everything in between.

Publishers Weekly PW KidsCast

Publisher’s Weekly children’s reviews editor John A. Sellers interviews children’s and YA authors in this ongoing children’s book podcast, giving each author twenty minutes to talk about their works, their creative and personal lives and their paths to authorship.

OK, so it’s not ten, but at least it’s a few to get you started. 😉

What are some of your favourite bookish podcasts?

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday -Top Ten ALL TIME Favorite Singable Picture Books

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by the book lovers over at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s theme is Top Ten ALL TIME Favourite Books of X Genre, and seeing as I’m a children’s librarian I’m going to share a few of my favourite singable picture books! These books are always on my story time shelf, and they’re some of my go-to books for pretty much any story time.

Singing has been shown to support the development of early literacy skills in young children:

Singing breaks up words into syllables, slowing down the sounds that words make and allowing your child to understand how to pronounce words they might not even know the meaning of. For instance, “Lon-don bridge is fall-ing down, fall-ing down, fall-ing down,” splits up the words into smaller, slower pieces, allowing your child to really understand how to mimic those sounds. Before children can learn to read, they need to be able to identify the different sounds that words make, and singing is a great way to introduce this, even if you’re off-key! 🙂 Herrick District Library

My story times are very high energy – I love getting kids moving, interacting, participating and having fun in my programs, and singable picture books are great way to get kids engaged in a story. They’re also a lot of fun!

So, in no particular order,

TOP TEN ALL-TIME FAVOURITE SINGABLE PICTURE BOOKS

 I Love My White Shoes

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You cannot go wrong with this jazzy story about a positive cat who doesn’t seem to pay much attention to where he’s going… I absolutely love jamming with Pete as he introduces children to basic colours.

The Seals on the Bus by Lenny Hort

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Kids loving singing The Wheels on the Bus (over and over and over…) and kids love making animal noises. Put them both together and you’ve got a fun new take on a beloved children’s song.

I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More

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I love this book SO MUCH. The tune is ridiculously catchy, the protagonist is a cheeky little performance artist, and there’s a funny little line that will have adults in the audience cracking up. I LOVE singing this one with a bit of a country drawl for added effect (and extra ridiculousness).

Old Mikamba Had a Farm

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I love being able to shake up a classic and  give it a fresh spin, and this African retelling of Old MacDonald Had a Farm does just that!  Old Mikamba has quite the exciting farm, filled with new and wonderful animals to explore and imitate.

Five Green and Speckled Frogs

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Besides having a really fun tune, Five Green and Speckled Frogs can be shared as a finger play, a felt story and a picture book – learn it once, share it in multiple ways to engage different learners in different ways.

There was a Tree

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Rachel Isadora is back with another beautiful take on a classic children’s song. This time in the prettiest little tree that you ever did see is actually beautiful acacia tree growing in a beautiful African setting.

If You’re Happy and You Know It

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Jane Cabrera is a master of the illustrated nursery rhyme, and pretty much any of her books is guaranteed story time gold, but this animal-themed take on If You’re Happy and You Know It is one of my favourites. Kids can roar like a lion, squeak like a little mouse, and have lots of fun expressing their happiness in all sorts of active ways.

If You’re a Monster and You Know It

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This spin on the traditional children’s song is so much fun! Kids roar, stomp, wiggle and more. If you’ve got a particularly wiggly group of kidlits, this delightfully silly story is the perfect way to harness that energy in a fun and interactuve way.Rebecca Emberley is the daughter of Ed Emberley, the creator of the beloved children’s classic, Go Away Big Green Monster.

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons

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Like I Love My White ShoesFour Groovy Buttons is perfect for people who don’t necessarily feel comfortable singing in front of others, including nervous or reluctant caregivers. Most of the text can simply be read aloud, with only the insanely catchy refrain sung or chanted. It’s a great gateway book that can ease storytellers into singing with their audiences, as well as a fun introduction to the concept of subtraction.

Sing, sing, sing!

Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Animes

Top Ten Tuesday is brought to you by the good folks over at The Broke and The Bookish. 

This week’s theme is all about TV! I thought I’d do something a little bit different, and share ten of my favourite Japanese animated TV series (animes). I started watching anime when I was in high school, long before the days of Youtube or Netflix, when most anime had to be downloaded from questionable websites, and we were heavily dependent on funsubs, in which dedicated fans created their own translated subtitles (sometimes with unintentionally hilarious results). Narrowing this list down to just ten titles has been a real challenge, since I’ve got nearly twenty years of viewing history to draw from, but I think I’ve got a good starter list here. There’s some old favourites, a few timeless classics, and a couple of new-to-me titles all thrown into the mix.

Now, this definitely isn’t a “top ten” list in the traditional sense, rather it’s just ten series that I’ve really enjoyed, listed in no particular order. If you’re new to the genre, any of these titles could be a great starting point, and they’re all widely available now on DVD or on streaming services like CrunchyRoll or Netflix.

I also tend to prefer fantasy/science fiction-themed animes, rather than high school stories or comedies, so that’s predominantly what you’ll see on this list.

NOTE:  I just can’t bear to watch subtitled programming – it’s subtitles or bust for me. No one can emote like a Japanese voice actor (seiyū). No one.

始めましょう。

Sailor Moon

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This is the series that first introduced me to anime (and to manga – I bought the entire series in Japanese. Without being able to read Japanese. Nerd…) all those years ago. Mamoru Chiba, aka Tuxedo Kamen, was my teenage heartthrob, and I loved everything about this classic series. Sailor Moon and her band of teenage superheroes must battle evil while looking super cute in their school uniform-inspired superhero costumes. It’s not subtle, but it’s actually a lot more complex than you might think, especially if you watch the entire series in its original incarnation (the American adaptation tried to turn the two lesbian characters into COUSINS…yuck….) This is also one of the few shoujo series that will show up on this list – I typically prefer shōnen anime/manga, though honestly I’ll watch almost anything.

Samurai Champloo

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This visually stunning, highly stylised, hip-hop influenced series takes the classic buddy movie trope of two mismatched partners and transports it to an anachronistic interpretation of Edo-era Japan. A young woman hires two polar-opposite swordsmen to accompany her on her mission to find a mysterious samurai. This is a shorter series, too, making it a great entry point for anime newbies.

Fairy Tail

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From the sublime to the ridiculous. Fairy Tale is non-stop action and noise, but boy is it a lot of fun. Fairy Tail is a famed and powerful wizards guild, which is home to a motley crew of wizards, including our hero Natsu, a fire-wielding wizard, and Grey, an ice-wielding wizard, among countless others. The series has been going on for ages, but the first few seasons are currently available on Netflix. Action, adventure, friendships and lots of popcorn fun.

Fullmetal Alchemist / Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood

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When their mother dies, two brothers turn to the dangerous, dark arts of alchemy in a desperate bid to bring her back. The results of their actions are catastrophic, and the boys must embark on a perilous journey to undo the damage they’ve caused. This is another well-known classic, and with good reason – great characters, great stories and great music make this a definite winner. There are actually two different series with similar names based on the same manga, with one follows the manga more closely than the other. Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood is available on Netflix (and is my preferred series), but both are worth watching.

Attack on Titan

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One of the best things about anime is that’s there’s really something for everyone. Love fluffy happy high school romances? There’s an anime for you. Love dark, disturbing, violent end-of-days stories? There’s Attack on Titan! What’s left of humanity lives in a walled city, fighting a desperate battle against the horrific, towering monstrosities known as titans. When the city’s walls are breached and Eren’s mother is killed, he and his sister and friends are drawn into an epic struggled to save the remaining citizens and discover a way to defeat titans once and for all. This is definitely one of the more violent anime, and it is a major adrenaline rush.

Bleach

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I discovered Bleach when I was in college, and I quickly became obsessed. Soul Reapers are like grim reapers, magical beings responsible for guiding souls to the afterlife. When high school student Ichigo meets and grows too close to a Soul Reaper, he’s drawn into a complicated and dangerous power struggle that might cost him and his friends their lives. Action, adventure, humour and a delightfully potty-mouthed stuffed lion make this one a classic.

Hunter X Hunter

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Our hero is a little boy named Gon, who is on a mission to find his deadbeat dad. To find him, Gon will have to pass a deadly series of tests to become a qualified Hunter like his father. Gon is just so darn chipper, never letting anything get him down, and he gathers a motley band of friends in his wake. I’d say this is geared towards a younger audience, except that there are (as usual) a few king of disturbing sexual elements that might make me a little bit uncomfortable recommending this to children. Still, with its engaging story arcs and likeable characters, this is an exciting bildungsroman that’s definitely worth taking a look at.

Cowboy Bebop

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Any list of the “the best anime of all time” is likely to include this weird futuristic western. A crew of bounty hunters on the good ship Bebop travel through space in search of the next big job (and the meaning of life). This is anime at it’s most thought-provoking, touching on such heavy concepts as existentialism and ennui. This is the series that’s credited with introducing the West to anime in a big way, and has acted as a gateway for countless Western fans. In fact, while Sailor Moon introduced me to anime as a whole, it was Cowboy Bebop that showed me just how complex and addictive anime could truly be, and turned me into a life-long devotee. It’s strange, it’s weird, and it proves that animation isn’t just for kiddies, and deserves to be so much more.

Psycho Pass 

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Imagine a world with no stress, no crime, no danger. A perfect world of order and happiness. I don’t think you need me to tell you that such a world is probably too good to be true, and of course in the world of Psycho Pass, it is. In the totalitarian Japan of the future, sensors constantly scan the population, monitoring individuals’ emotional and mental states, and calculating the probability of any individual committing a crime or becoming “unhinged”. The members of the Public Safety Bureau’s Criminal Investigation Division are there to pick up the pieces whenever something goes wrong. This series is dark in every meaning of the world – the characters are conflicted, the violence is gory, the story lines are complex, and the lighting is so dark that it’s sometimes difficult to make out what’s going on. Still, this is a stylish, thought-provoking adult anime that poses major questions and creates engaging story lines.

Neon Genesis Evangelion

Even if you know next to nothing about anime, you’ve probably heard of this series. It was one of the first few series I ever watched, and it was so unlike anything I’d ever come across in Western television. The series has been hailed as a classic of the medium, and with good reason. It’s complex and complicated, turning the traditional, macho mech story line on its head. A group of teenagers are society’s last hope of survival against horrific monsters known as Angels, but how much must they sacrifice, and how far is mankind willing to go to achieve survival? Great action sequences that still hold up today, fascinating characters, complex story lines and thought-provoking questions come together in this unforgettable series.

So there you have it, ten of my personal favourite anime series. Have I missed some fantastic titles? Absolutely, but if you let me ramble on about all of my favourite series you and I would be hear all night. But if you have an absolute favourite that I didn’t mention, please let me know, I might not have seen it yet, and I’m always looking to discover great anime!

Have a great week, everybody!!