January 22, 2015

by Dana,

Around the world there are many different celebrations of how each country celebrates the New Year and since it’s the start of a new year I thought it would make for an interesting post. I thought that it would be fun to write about the most interesting New Year's celebrations that I found are recognized around the world. I'll briefly point out interesting facts about each country's way of celebrating the New Year - sorry if I don't cover it all or miss out on some!

After each blurb, I'm recommending some books related to each country. Enjoy!


The Japanese consider December 31st to be very important because there are various old customs celebrated around Japan. One of the most popular started around the Edo period (1603- 1868) which is eating soba buckwheat noodles. They say that eating these noodles are a way to wish for a life that's as long as the long skinny noodles they eat. Another thing about Japanese New Year's is that they ring the bells at temples 108 times to represent the old year fading out and the new year coming in. One reason for the bell ringing is that its done to forswear the 108 human desires. In terms of food Japanese eat mochi, which are made with different flavors and are wonderful to eat.

Issun Boshi  Rain  Living in Japan  A Geek in Japan


New Year's in France is called "Jour des trennes" or "le Jour de l'An", celebrations are called "Reveillons", one of the things they do is they believe feasting brings good luck. So, there is a special feast called "Le Reveillon de Sylvestre". Families meet and greet, champagnes are uncorked and huge parties are organized. Public and private fireworks are displayed which is common, they also sing songs such as "Chanson nouvel de an" (The song of the new year), and an adaption of the Scottish "Choral des Adieux" (Auld Lang syne). People generally spend the new years quietly with the company of friends and family.

The Whole Fromage Isla and the Happily Ever After   Mac in the City of Light


Germans drop molten lead into cold water and see what shape it takes as they predict about the future. Each shape symbolizes an aspect of life -  love, prosperity, etc, Families get together for meals at midnight with some bits left behind (food) as a good omen ensuring abundance in the coming year. Fireworks are a common display as well as public concerts, parties and last up to the early hours of January 1. Classical orchestras may present a special music program known as New Year's concerts in the afternoon or evening. In certain regions local medias will compete to try to find and publish the first photograph of the first baby born in the New Year.

Going Over Graffiti Knight Brothers Grimm Berlin Fashion



When midnight strikes, it's customary to eat twelve grapes one at each strike of the clock, it's suppose to bring good luck. One grape for each of the twelve months of the New Year, in the cities people gather at the main squares and observe the custom together. Dancing and drinking all night is a typical form of Spanish celebration.

The Last Song   The Apprentice's Masterpiece Tapas: the little dishes of Spain



The New Year's eve in tagalog is "Bisperas ng Bagong taon" Filipino families believe that round objects symbolizing coins would bring them good luck and prosperity in the New year. The tables are heaped with round fruits and eat exactly twelve of them at midnight, some wear polka dots for the occasion because of the round signifying prosperity. Foods that are prepared would be pancit (noodles), cooked to signify life, delicacies like malagkit (glutinous or sticky rice) are prepared like biko (rice cake made from sticky rice) which is for the good fortune to stick all year round.

Philippines Tall Story  Tuko and the Birds Authentic Recipes

Well, this is just a small introduction to how some countries celebrate the New Years, I had the experience of eating soba noodles for the Japanese New year. My Japanese teacher thought it would be a good way to finish the year, they were very tasty :) The library is open to so many diverse books about any country that celebrates the New Year in their culture/tradition so I'd definitely recommend and check out some books at your local library.

Thanks for reading!

Dana is a member of the Millennium Library's Youth Advisory Council, which is why she gets to call herself a library insider and do awesome things like write for this blog. Find out more about the Youth Advisory Council on this page.


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January 16, 2015

by Ranjan

At this time of year, it is sometimes challenging to squeeze in time to read a lot, since the first semester of school is wrapping up, and the second one is starting. It gets even harder to fit in reading time, if you are unaware of what to read, and potential reading time is spent searching for an interesting read. The following are some of my favorite books (and series) from the past year:


The Adventures of Sherlock HolmesSherlock Holmes (Series) by Sir. Arthur Conan Doyle

The original Sherlock Holmes series by Sir. Arthur Conan Doyle is one of my favorite series to read. The series is narrated by Sherlock’s good friend Dr. Watson, who gives his account (in first person point of view) of Sherlock’s adventures in solving crime. Sherlock Holmes, for those who are not familiar, is a genius detective, who solves crimes for a living. It exposes readers to a different set of vocabulary, used during the time it was written, the late 19th century. Although, some readers may find the series challenging specifically because of the vocabulary, I would recommend it for older teens. Since, there is not a ton of violence, and there is no sexual content, if a younger teen was interested in a challenge, this certainly would be a wonderful read. A good place to start in the series is The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes, which is a collection of short stories, and will give readers a wide variety of cases of Sherlock, to really see if they will enjoy it or not, before plunging into the novel. After that, A Study in Scarlett (The introductory book, with the story on how Watson and Holmes met), would be a great read.

SteelheartSteelheart by Brandon Sanderson

If someone does not enjoy mystery, perhaps they would enjoy adventure. Steelheart is one of my favorite adventure books from the past year. The book is a dystopian novel, set in a world where evil monsters (epics) have super powers. Each ones super powers are unique. The protagonist, David, is set on avenging his father, who was murdered when one of these super beings was taking over David’s city. The specific Epic that murdered David’s father is the most powerful of the epics. He is practically invincible. Does David avenge his father? Read the book and see. This book I would recommend for anybody interested.

Economics for DummiesEconomics for Dummies (Second edition) by Sean Masaki Flynn

If none of these genres suite the reader and they are looking for something factual, and non-fiction, Economics for Dummies may be a good read. It explains a majority of concepts of economics, including, demand curves, supply curves, monopolies, different kind of markets, what affects demand and supply, macroeconomics, inflation, and effect of taxes. If the reader is interested in reading something that explains the world and how different aspects of the world exactly work, this will be a good read. After this book is read, the individual will not become an economic genius, but will have a general idea of how things work. This is a good book to have sitting around and read between different fiction books. As far as basic economic books go, this one hits spot on. I would recommend this for older teens, simply because the book may feel sort of overwhelming for younger ones. Although, if younger teens are up for a challenge, they certainly would be able give it a try.

Elantris    The Billionaire's Curse  The False Prince

The previous three books were my favorites of each genre, other just as good books would include Elantris (Brandon Sanderson; adventure book, only one book, ties everything together in one neat bundle, highly recommend), The Billionaire’s Curse (Richard Newsome, cool adventure, especially good for younger readers, this one is part of a whole series, currently, five books), and The False Prince (Jennifer A. Nielsen, Yet another adventure book full of kings and queens, and suspense. This one is part of a trilogy).

If you make time to read this time of year, you will definitely, not regret it.

Ranjan is a member of the Charleswood Library's Youth Advisory Council, which is why he gets to call himself a library insider and do awesome things like write for this blog. Find out more about the Youth Advisory Council on this page.

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December 23, 2014

By Kyle

Mockingjay, Part 1, made its cinematic debut about a month ago.  It earned 123 million in its opening weekend.  Which is a lot, but it's less than the previous two Hunger Game movies.  Could there be tiredness with the whole YA books made into movies?

Since the first Hunger Games movie was released, Hollywood studios have been making as many popular Young Adult books into movies as possible.  To name a few, Divergent, The Maze Runner, The Fault in Our Stars, If I Stay, and The Giver.  While the books were praised and sold very well, the movies did not do as well as they were hyped to do, and a lot of them were critically panned.  The movie’s opening weekends were very bad compared to The Hunger Games, Harry Potter or Twilight.  Notably The Giver didn’t even make the top 1300 all time for opening weekends, it made 12 million dollars in its opening weekend while the first Hunger Games movie made 152 million, and Divergent did better with 52 million but still didn’t even make the top 100.

As well as not selling lots of tickets, these movies were critically bashed, with one review of The Giver saying “It just looks like a low-rent mishmash of Divergent and The Hunger Games, recycling riffs from Logan's Run with sets and costumes lifted from Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey.” Another reviewer said it didn’t even come close to analyzing the themes put out in the books.  There is a question about whether the book was even makeable into a movie, with the book and movie not relating whatsoever.   A reviewer said about Divergent “…just another bloated adaptation that's unable to capture the magic of its literary forebear.” 

I’m not going to offer a conclusion as to why these books did not translate well to movies.  It could be bad filmmaking, or the studios trying to rush the movies to market, or the movies trying to emulate the Hunger Games, but it could just as easily be that people aren’t going to see movies anymore.  But I’ll let you come up with your own conclusion.

Now that isn’t to say that there haven’t been good YA books made into movies.  There have been some that in my opinion were done right.  My absolute favourite book to movie is The Outsiders by S.E Hinton.  It was released in the 1980s, but it doesn’t feel old at all.  I would recommend it to anyone.   A more recently done book to movie that is one of my favourites is The Perks of Being a Wallflower.  It could have been well done because the author Stephen Chbosky was also the screenwriter and director, something about having total control to get your books vision across.  The final book to movie that I would recommend is Hugo based on the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret.

While Hugo and Perks of Being a Wallflower did not do well in the box office there was not the same kind of hype around them.  Even though Perks has been a huge book since it was released in 1999 the movie flew under the radar and wasn’t hyped up in the way that Divergent or Fault in Our Stars was.  That could maybe explain why Hugo and Perks were much better movies because the filmmakers had time to get the books vision right as opposed to just trying to release it as fast as possible to get in on Hungers Games wake.

You could disagree with me and think what I’m saying is hogwash, HOGWASH!  Which is perfectly fine.  Tell me why you liked those movies.  If you haven’t seen them take them out from the library and come to your own conclusions.  Also, tell me what your favourite book to movie is.

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December 19, 2014

By Rushika

Everyone has heard of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Most people know it as a too long movie or an old boring book. I also had this perception until two authors re told the story in modern times. Set in the world of teenagers, Pride and Prejudice gains a new appreciation from a younger audience.

Elizabeth Eulberg tells the story of young Lizzie Bennet in her book Prom and Prejudice.  Lizzie attends the Longbourn Academy, a most prestigious high school, on a scholarship. While all the girls look down on her, Lizzie’s best friend and roommate Jane is the only girl who doesn’t care about her middle class status. When Lizzie returns to school from spring break, prom fever has taken over. Every girl is desperate for a date except Lizzie. Through Jane’s possible relationship with a Mr. Charles Bingley, Lizzie meets the dark and mysterious Will Darcy. Will Darcy is the most desired prize for all the girls at Longbourn Academy who are in want of prom date. Lizzie doesn’t see the appeal though, especially of a man who is snobby and pretentious in her opinion, especially when he looks down on her because she doesn’t come from money. Or is that the reason? Find out if Lizzie and Darcy can overcome their differences for their friends or if they end up killing each other instead.

Claire LaZebnik writes a humorous twist of the old tale in Epic Fail. Elise Benton is the newest student at Coral Tree Prep, where celebrities send their children for high school. Her mom is not a celebrity though, just the newest principal. Her older sister, Juliana catches the eye of Chase, who is best friends with the son of Hollywood royalty. Derek Edwards is the most sought after boy at the school but no girl has been able to keep him. Elise is not impressed by the aloof teen; in fact she thinks he is kind of a jerk.  She wants nothing to do with the spoiled rich boy. But is it really like it seems, or is Elise jumping to conclusions? She finds comfort in her new friend, Webster Grant. What happens when Derek starts to gift her with a few sweet moments or rare smiles? Can Elise and Derrick look over their pride and their prejudice and see each other clearly? Read the book and find out.

Give these books a try; after all they were based on a classic. Pride and Prejudice is called a classic because its ideas are popular no matter the era.

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December 11, 2014

By Katherine

Your sister is screaming for you to get out of the bathroom; your dad is attempting to get the car packed; mom is hurriedly getting the kids dressed and in the car and grandpa just wants to crawl back into bed. Everything is up in the air as the whole family is headed out for a large family party. Sounds like a film right? (Think Home Alone). Every holiday season, and it doesn’t matter which one, is often filled with craziness in one form or another. But if you’re like me, it’s not the insanity of people that’s the problem; it’s the happy holiday aspect. Cheerful snowmen, saintly Santa’s, smiling reindeer, at some point it just becomes too much. When this happens, I need to be reminded of three important facts: 1) The undead are always present in fiction, even during the holidays (since when do ghosts take a vacation?); 2) Mysteries are just as much fun at Christmas – and often much spookier; and 3) sometimes I just need to see the big picture in order to appreciate how important friends and family are. Here are some of my personal favorites. Christmas Carol By Charles Dickens is a true gothic holiday classic. Now don’t let the author freak you out, Dickens wrote quite a few short stories – which I think Christmas Carol fits into – which are quite fast reads. In this work, Dickens spends his time discussing such profound ideas as what to do when a ghost (or three) is haunting you; how to survive on the austral plane in your pajamas (remember your robe) and how you handle your own past being thrown into your face (answer: you’ll have to read it to find out). By all means, enjoy this rather short story, and if you get a chance, compare it to a few different films versions and see how they compare. Dickens isn’t spooky enough for you, then I would recommend The Dead of Winter By Chris Priestly. After the death of his parents, Michael is invited to spend Christmas in a country house with an unknown guardian. Upon arrival however, he soon realizes that things are not what they seem when the only greeting he receives is from a woman who disappears into the marshes. Trapped within a desolate house, Michael must unravel the lies and secrets, if only for his own survival. For those of you who can see the parallels to The Woman in Black, by no means let that stop you from enjoying a dark tale. Remember, ghosts don’t stop for the holidays. (And if you get the chance, watch the film Woman in Black with Daniel Radcliffe and see the MTC play in March!), you’ve gone through the whole dark, horrific versions of Christmas, shall we try something a bit lighter (and more modern). Take a look at Let it Snow: Three Holiday Romances. Maureen Johnson begins with Jubilee, a teen who experiences one tragedy after another, only to find love in a place she did not expect. Next, John Green introduces us to Tobin, a young man who thinks watching cheerleaders is a good night out, only to have fate step in with a wake-up call as to what love really means. The final story in this trio, written by Lauren Myrcale, takes a failure to communicate and turns it into a realization that life is interconnected in ways that only fate could explain.


Well, the weather outside is frightful, and any fire is truly delightful and since you have nowhere to go (now that the shopping is finished), it can snow all it likes. So take a breather, curl up with a good book and your favorite warm drink by the fire (or candles as needs must) and let it snow, let it snow, let it show. J Have a fabulous haunted holiday!


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