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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Beach Reads - To Say Nothing of the Dog

    To Say Nothing of the Dog, Or How We Foundthe Bishop’s Bird Stump At Last (1998) by Connie Willis, winner of multiple Hugo and Nebula awards, is an ideal book for the beach. It is a comedic story of mystery, romance and time travel. Ned Henry, time-lagged and exhausted, desperately needs rest after shuttling between the 21st century and the 1940s to search for a Victorian atrocity called the bishop’s bird stump. It is part of a project to restore the famed Coventry Cathedral, razed to the ground by a Nazi air raid over a hundred years earlier.

   But now Ned must fix a chronological complication–caused by fellow time traveller Verity Kindle–by travelling back to Oxford in 1889. He arrives in the Victorian era dressed in boating clothes, a mountain of luggage, a regal cat in a box and absolutely no idea of what he is supposed to do next. After drifting down a river, in a parody of Three Men in a Boat, he finally finds Verity, his contact for this mission, and together the two must solve the problem or the Nazis will win the Second World War.
review by Peter at the Vernon Branch

Monday, July 22, 2013

Friends of the Westbank Library

Many of the Okanagan Regional Library branches have "Friends" groups that help with raising funds for extras! Here is the story of the start of one of these groups. If you are interested in joining a "Friends" group please speak with your local branch staff!

"The Origins of the Friends of Westbank Library by John Raybould"

In January 2001, I was doing some photocopying in the Library on the machine on the right as you went in through the old entrance.  As I was copying my pages Sophie was passing by and I said “Perhaps we need a small table to put the work on.”

Sophie replied “Yes, that’s a good idea.  Why don’t you set up a Friends of the Library as that’s the sort of item they could raise money to buy through book sales.”

I replied  “I’ll do it!”

So I spoke to Barbara Wolfe, the then Librarian, Judy Hammond’s predecessor. She was all in favour.

Therefore, I drew up a notice that read along the lines of  "If you love books, please come to the Library on February  14 at 7.00pm to discuss setting up a Friends of the Westbank Library.”   (NB: note the date!).

And on February 14 about a dozen people came and we had a good discussion. We sat near where Judy’s old office was.

To break the ice, so people could get to know each other I gave each person a piece of paper with a quotation about books on it.

All agreed it was a good idea. I’ll have to check my notes but out of the group we struck a small committee with Mel Brousseau as my Vice Chairman (other Friends’ groups had “Presidents” but I decided that was too pompous!).  

Teresa & Keith Boehmer agreed to handle publicity and thinking about members.  Sheila Paynter and Carol Zanon too were active from the beginning…..I’ll have to look up the other names in my “file box!”   

So after that little meeting on February 14, the rest is history (as they say!)."

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Barbara Jo’s Summer Picks

Summer is the best part of the year, especially here!  Swimming, ice cream, peaches, raspberries, warm evenings, star gazing, watching quail, more swimming, more ice cream...(Put on repeat!)

Here are two novels I like that are set in other beautiful summer places:
Tove Jansson’s “The Summer Book

Written by the Finnish author who wrote the children’s classics about the Moomins,  this novel written for adults,  is very different from the beloved tales of the hippopotamus-like trolls.    An artist and grandmother spends the summer with her six-year-old granddaughter, Sophia, on a tiny island off the coast of Finland.   Sophia is mourning the recent death of her mother.    They pass their days exploring tide pools and talking about nature and life – talking about everything except their feelings about the mother’s death and the love they have for each other. Both are fiercely independent and temperamental.  Jansson captures that unique friendship that sometimes develops between the very old and the very young.   Totally unsentimental, this is a book of gentle wisdom and humour.   It’s been called “a perfection of the small, quiet read”.  

David Macfarlane’s “Summer Gone 

Set among the islands and lakes of Ontario’s “cottage country” and farther North,   “Summer Gone”  is the story of a divorced father and his son who are trying to mend their difficult relationship on a canoe trip.  The father reflects on his own boyhood canoe trips with his father and other trips he took with his ex-wife, as much as he is in the present with his own son.   It’s a story of three generations of lost summers and how one event breaks the estrangement between father and son.  Beautifully written, and Macfarlane describes Northern Ontario so well it makes you want to sing Neil Young’s “Helpless”. 

( If you are looking for car chases, whodunit’s, exploding planets , or any kind of plot-driven book,  these aren’t good choices.   But if you are looking for something slower and more descriptive of human lives and hearts, I would recommend either of these novels. )

My recommendation for THE Okanagan summer movie :  Sandy Wilson’s My American Cousin. 
Photo from
It’s a story based on Wilson’s girlhood experiences in Naramata in the 1960s.  It is evocative of growing up anywhere in the Okanagan, and bang-on with the small details of that time!   

I saw the premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, just after I had survived my first gritty & humid summer there.  The opening scene is shot at sunset  from the west side of Okanagan Lake,   with a sweeping view over the lake, then the Naramata bench, then an orchard (with that distinctive noise of the overhead sprinklers used in those days), then a busy family home lit up with all the windows open.  I burst out in sobs as it made me so homesick!  The rest of the movie also made me weep - with laughter.   A funny and gentle coming-of-age story that anyone will enjoy, including young adults.
Happy Summer, y’all!
Barbara Jo

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Up, Up and Away with the Okanagan Regional Library Summer Reading Club!

Zooming through the sky like a super hero is what awaits your child when they join the Summer Reading Club at your nearby Okanagan Regional Library branch.  “Up, Up and Away” is the exciting theme this year for 5-12 year olds.  To celebrate reading, there are seven fun subthemes, one for each week of this free series.  Hovering like a hummingbird in “living things with wings”, your child will learn about birds, bats and flying insects that buzz!  Successfully uncovering secret identities in “pardon me, you’re standing on my cape” showcases superheroes, superpowers, secret identities and secret lairs.  Kids can soar through the clouds in the “prepare for takeoff” theme where aircraft, airships and flights to interesting places will thrill them!  Another stop will be to journey on quests and expeditions to exotic locations during the “send me a postcard” theme.  Finding out about weird weather and shining stars while “reading the sky” where sky mythology and star gazing will fascinate your pre-teen!  Explore sci-fi   in “worlds above and beyond” where fantasy and future worlds abound!  For the final subtheme, “to the stars!” your astronauts will travel to other planets, learning about astronomy and reading tales set in space!

So, have your child become a space traveler by joining this “out-of-this world” club for school-aged children.  Registration for SRC is ongoing throughout the summer. Each registrant will receive a special superhero kit with a reading record to keep track of all the outstanding books that he/she reads and a bookmark.  A cool rocket ship game, based on “Snakes and Ladders” is part of the reading log, as well as a punch-out disk, with two merging picture which dress the superhero before your very eyes! Set a goal to read- even just for 15 minutes a day -it’s that easy!   Seven colourful stickers to fill in the squares on the reading log can be earned, one for each week of reading and programs. Weekly book draw tickets will be given for each title read for a chance to win some fantastic book prizes and coupons!  Cool contests, great guest speakers and fun activities are just some of the awesome stuff kids can do! Everything is FREE! A special Olympic – sized medal,  as well as a completion certificate to hang on the wall,  will be awarded to children who complete their reading logs by September.
Encouraging kids to read regularly to keep up or improve their reading skills while school is out is the goal of incentive-based Summer Reading Clubs. Studies have shown all students experience learning losses during the summer when they don’t take part in educational activities. No one wants their kids to fall behind at school! Last year there were 4,524 children registered for the Summer Reading Clubs at our 29 branches.   A huge total of 8.998 children went to our 208 programs system-wide from Golden to Princeton!

So, check out for more information and to sign up your child to become a super reader!
By Linda Youmans, Youth Collections/ System Librarian