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Moving to Canada? Great authors live there

By Jenny Hubbard

Rowan Public Library

The election is over — hooray! — so for some of you, it’s time to learn a little about the literature available to you in your new adopted homeland of Canada.

The heavy hitters there write fiction. Alice Munro, arguably the most masterful short-story writer alive or dead, won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2013. (Unlike Bob Dylan, she earned it.) The only Canadian-born-and-bred author to win it, Munro grew up in rural Ontario, where most of her stories are set. Razor-sharp, vivid and often astonishing, these stories concern themselves not with what happens but the way it happens, and why.   What takes some novelists hundreds of pages to say, Munro can crystallize in 20. Her story “The Found Boat,” which I read 30 years ago, haunts me to this day.

Equally haunting is Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” a dynamite dystopian novel. Although it first appeared in 1985, it has garnered recent attention because with The Donald holding the reins, the vision Atwood lays out seems entirely plausible.

A prolific writer, Atwood has won every award, it seems, but the Nobel. Her latest endeavor, “Hag-Seed,” published last month, is a retelling of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” with Prospero as an artistic director of an Ontario theatre. (Check out the New York Times review by fellow Canadian author Emily St. John Mandel, whose own scarily realistic dystopian novel, “Station Eleven,” imagines a world devastated by a pandemic.)

But of course one of the reasons you are moving north is to seek sources of hope and light, not doom and despair. Perhaps no Canadian author is more beloved and optimistic than Lucy Maud Montgomery, whose “Anne of Green Gables,” published in 1908, is one of the great classics in children’s literature and one of my personal favorites.

The sunny and irrepressible Anne Shirley brings nearly 150,000 tourists annually to Prince Edward Island, where most of the Anne books are set. I have, in fact, been there, and it truly is idyllic, so if you haven’t yet chosen your new home and you’re fond of lobster, church suppers and starry night skies, you might want to investigate the smallest of Canada’s provinces.

Although I’ve known Anne Shirley since I was 10, I’ve only recently met Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. His creator Louise Penny (who scores extra points from me because she’s a dog rescuer) has written a dozen best-selling mysteries featuring Gamache, head of homicide, who resides in the village of Three Pines, Quebec.

Though it looks peaceful, Three Pines roils below the surface with dark and deadly secrets. If you start with the first one, “Still Life,” you can track Gamache’s small victories and inner struggles through “A Great Reckoning,” Penny’s latest.

Her books, smart and satisfying, are also nice way to bone up on your French, which you’ll be needing if you choose to set up shop in Montreal.

So many male Canadian writers, too, are worthy of your attention: Robertson Davies, Yann Martel, Douglas Coupland, Michael Ondaatje. Thank you, Canada, for not building a wall to keep your southerly neighbors out.

Lego free play:  Legos have been cited for developing creativity, imagination, systematic reasoning and problem solving. The library’s collection will be available for free play or bring your own. 10 a.m-1 p.m., Nov. 26, East Branch.

Drive-In Movie Night for Kids: Nov. 22, 5 p.m., East Branch, Rockwell. Enjoy an indoor drive-in featuring Disney Pixar’s “Cars.” Lightning McQueen takes an unexpected and life-changing detour through Radiator Springs. Rated G, the film runs for 116 minutes. This is geared for children ages 2 to 12; families are welcome. Light refreshments will be served.

International Game Day: Nov. 19, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at all library locations. Rowan Public Library joins thousands of libraries around the world for the ninth annual celebration of International Games Day.  We will offer games for children, teens and adults.

Cards for a Cause: Nov. 26, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. All library locations. Create holiday cards that will be delivered to service members in the U.S. Armed Forces. For more information, call Laurie at 704-216-7841. Stations to make cards will be available during the week.

Gale Lessons Class: Nov. 15, 7-8 p.m., headquarters. Access your online, free Gale class from the RPL computer lab and get help if needed from an on-site staff member.

Technology Tuesdays: Reading free content on your tablet, Nov. 15, 7-8 p.m., headquarters. Learn how to access and read free content on your tablet. Seating is limited. To reserve your spot, please call 704-216-8248 or email info@rowancountync.gov

Money Mondays: Dealing with Debt for Adults, Nov. 21, 7-8 p.m., headquarters. Learn practical tips to manage debt, avoid quick fixes and plan to resolve financial trouble.

No-School Cinema: Nov. 23, 10:30 a.m., East Branch, Rockwell. Kick off the Thanksgiving holiday with “The Santa Clause.” Divorced dad Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) accidentally becomes Santa, and holiday hijinks ensue. Rated PG, this film has a runtime of 97 minutes. Light refreshments will be served. This event is free, open to the public, all ages are welcome.

Saturday Cinema: Nov. 26, 10:30-1 p.m. East Branch, Rockwell. Enjoy the holiday classic “White Christmas;” runtime is two hours. Light refreshments will be served. This event is free, open to the public, all ages are welcome. Participation in Cards for a Cause is not required, though both events will be held simultaneously in the East Meeting Room.

Tail Waggin’ Tutors: Children 7-9 can practice their reading skills in a relaxed, dog-friendly atmosphere. Reading therapy dogs registered through Therapy Dogs International are available for beginning and struggling readers to read aloud to them. Reservations recommended, not required. Headquarters, Tuesdays, 4:30 p.m.; East, selected Mondays, 3:30 p.m.,  Nov. 21; South, selected Tuesdays, 6 p.m., Nov. 15.

Chapter Chats Book Club: A weekly club for teens 14-17, primarily for participants with developmental or intellectual disabilities, but all are welcome. Meets at East branch meeting room, Tuesdays, 5 p.m., Nov. 15, 29 and Dec. 6, 13, 20.

Weekly events for teens are on hiatus after Nov. 22, unless otherwise noted.

Teen Advisory Board: Teens who join this board provide input on the library’s teen programming and selection, as well as discuss current events and issues. Meets once a month at each library location at 4:30 p.m. TAB members can count their hours of participation towards school community service requirements. Nov. 14, East branch; Nov. 22, headquarters.

Teen Monthly Program: Teens play games, make crafts and do various activities related to a specific theme. November is Back to Hogwarts. 4;30 p.m. Nov. 15, headquarters; Nov. 17, South Rowan Regional; Nov. 21, East branch.

Book Bites Book Club: South (China Grove), Nov. 29, 6-7 p.m. Free, open to the public. We discuss a different book each month and serve refreshments loosely related to the theme.”Bel Canto,” by Ann Patchett. Need a copy? Call 704-216-7731.

Displays: Headquarters, International Game Day and Lee Street theatre; East, photos of Rockwell, Glenda Hunsucker; South, artwork/paintings, Kay Azzara.

Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second  language.

Unless otherwise noted, weekly children’s event are on hiatus after Nov. 21.

Baby Time: A loosely interactive program of simple stories and songs for infants up to 23 months with parent or guardian. 30 minutes. Headquarters, Char’s Little Stars, Wednesdays, 10 a.m.; East, Tiny Sprouts, Mondays, 10 a.m.; South, Miss Pat’s Tiny Tots, Wednesdays, 10 a.m.

Toddler Time: Sharing books, singing songs and encouraging listening skills for children 18-35 months with parent or caregiver. 30 minutes. Headquarters, Reading Rumpus, Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m.; East, Tammie’s Tot Time, Mondays at 11; South, Miss Pat’s Wee Readers, Tuesdays, 10:30.

Preschool Time: Encourages the exploration of books and builds reading readiness skills for children 3- to 5-years-old with parent or caregiver. 30 minutes. Headquarters, Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.; East, Thursdays, 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

Noodle Head Story Times: Children of all ages can listen to silly books and tales together. 30 minutes. Headquarters, Thursdays at 4 p.m.; South, Wednesdays, 4 p.m.

Art programs: Activities and instruction based on various themes and media vary by branch. Pre-kindergarten through fifth grade; 30-45 minutes. Headquarters, Art in the Afternoon, Thursdays, 4:30 p.m.; East, Bethany’s Brushes, Thursdays, 4 p.m.; South, Emma’s Easel, Wednesdays, 4:30.

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