I just saw the very first ballet of my entire life* this weekend, and I am so incredibly excited about the rest of the performances in the National Ballet of Canada’s 2016/2017 season! Cinderella kicked off the season, and while I was sitting quite high up in the fifth ring and couldn’t see in as much detail as I would have liked – especially the costumes! – it was quite an exciting night nonetheless. I had no idea what to expect, apart from popular (read: stereotypical) notions of what ballet performances might consist of (stiff tutus? classic ethereal elegance?) and was very pleasantly surprised: various elements of the story were reinterpreted and the stepsisters fared very well as comic relief, there were zero stiff tutus in sight, in addition to which the transformation scene was quite well done, the forest coming to life in the process of conjuring & presenting to Cinderella the transformative garbs. Part of me does wish they went through the entire change onstage – as it was, a scarf/wrap took the place of the dress, changing up her plain dress for that scene only, and she arrived at the ball in a completely different dress – but I suspect it would have been rather difficult to orchestrate. Continue reading
Birdie is the nickname of Bernice Meetoos, a “big, beautiful Cree woman” from Northern Alberta who has made her way to Gibsons, British Colombia. On the surface her travels have been in pursuit of her childhood crush, the actor Pat John (Jesse from The Beachcombers television series), but her journey goes much deeper.
Not long after her arrival, Bernice “takes to her bed”, not eating or speaking or even moving, but she continues to voyage within herself. Her secrets are slowly revealed throughout the novel as she tries to come to terms with (and sometimes recall pieces of) her painful past. At the core of this book is the relationships between women, and how they come together in times of need, as Bernice’s cousin Skinny Freda, motheraunt Val, and employer Lola (who all have their own secrets) rally around her and try to will her back. This book is particularly relevant in light of calls that led to a National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
Tracey Lindberg’s first novel is beautifully written, interspersed with fragments of poetry and Cree storytelling tradition. It is not without humour (see: Birdie’s preoccupation with Pat John, as well as her obsession with reruns of the cooking show The Frugal Gourmet) despite sometimes dark subject matter.
Birdie was one of the books selected for CBC’s Canada Reads 2016. Though The Illegal by Lawrence Hill eventually won this “Battle of the Books”, defender Bruce Poon Tip felt so strongly about the importance of Birdie to the Can Lit canon that he is giving 10,000 copies to Canadian high schools.
As well as Canada Reads 2016, Birdie is tagged on our Adult Summer Reading, Brilliant Debut Authors, and Escape the Ordinary lists. Be sure to reserve your copy of Birdie soon, and check out these lists for some other amazing reading recommendations!
Copies of the title is now available at all VPL branches for check out, and ebook is now available on Overdrive through VPL site. Author Janet Hepburn will visit Vaughan on November 19 at Ansley Grove Library. Come to join us at the author visit and get a chance to win a iPad mini!
It’s Janet’s first novel, a gentle and funny read. Lilian and Audrey, two adventurous seniors managed to escape from their senior home, just wanting a “summer vacation”. They want to see Rocky Mountain, and hope Rayne, a young man they met on the way, to drive them there. Did they finally get to their dream destination? I have to say, the ending is very thought-provoking …