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Harry Potter Parties 2016

by Tyler Vitt - Thursday, Aug 04, 2016 at 2:34pm

On July 30th, 2016, McNally Robinson hosted midnight release parties for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two in both Winnipeg and Saskatoon. The parties were held to celebrate not only the release of Cursed Child but the fun and magic of the Harry Potter series as a whole. Many of our booksellers are fans of the series, and from past experiences we know there are many Potterheads in the Prairies — and at this year's parties, those fans came out in force.

Our Winnipeg celebration took place at the Lyric Theatre field in Assiniboine Park, and it's a good thing we had all of that open space. Based on previous parties and the response we had on social media, we anticipated around ten thousand guests at this year's party — but ended up with closer to 15,000. With so many Potterheads, many of whom were dressed up in their finest witch and wizard garb, the park was abuzz as guests took in the live entertainment and perused the activities and tents around the party grounds. Among the attractions were Quidditch lessons and scrimmages, a Tri-Wizard tournament, live animals in the Care of Magical Creatures station, a Diagon Alley shop tent, snacks and drinks from The Three Broomsticks, plus much more. All the while there were live performances by JP Hoe and The Mariachi Ghost from the Lyric Theatre stage. To see some photos of the party, explore #PotterPartyWPG on Twitter and Instagram.

Meanwhile, our Saskatoon location hosted a party at the bookstore and surrounding parking lot, which drew in a crowd of over 2000 fans of all ages. The event kept attendees on their toes with everything from high-spirited games of Quidditch to Dementors handing out demerits. A handful of furry (and not so furry) guests made an appearance, including live rats, snakes, and cats. Fans enjoyed frothy mugs of Butterbeer and sweet nibbles of Pumpkin Pasties in Prairie Ink, which was done up in Great Hall chic for the occasion with stars and Hogwarts letters strung from the ceiling. The more daring of the attendees tried their hand at competing in tasks such as the Tri-Wizard Tournament, complete with a series of nail-biting trivia questions. All guests were also invited to sit beneath the Sorting Hat and tremble in anticipation as it deliberated over which House they would be sorted into.

And of course at the stroke of midnight we began handing out copies of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Line-ups at both parties, as well as at our Grant Park bookstore, were filled with hundreds of eager fans, most of whom were beaming and some of whom were teary-eyed with joy, and all were on their way home with their new book in record time.

We thank all of the volunteers and organizations who helped us put our parties together, and a big thank you to all of the Potterheads who joined us for the evening. We had record turnouts at both parties, and — if we're fortunate enough to get another Harry Potter book someday — we hope to see you all at the next celebration.

Categories: Fun, Store News, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Event News

August's Author of the Month: SJN

by Tyler Vitt - Tuesday, Aug 02, 2016 at 3:03pm

Born on the 27th of August, 1962, in Reykjavik, Iceland, Sjón (Sigurjón B. Sigurðsson) began his literary career at the age of 15 when his first poetry collection was published. He went on to become a founding member of the neo-surrealist group Medúsa and acquired a high profile on the Reykjavík cultural scene. He has published numerous poetry collections and several novels, as well as written plays, librettos and picture books for children.

The mind-bending miniature historical epic is Sjón's specialty, and his new novel Moonstone is no exception. But it is also his most realistic and accessible work yet. Máni Steinn is gay in a society in which the idea of homosexuality is unthinkable. His city, Reykjavik in 1918, is homogeneous, isolated, and seems entirely defenseless against the Spanish flu, which is now lapping at Iceland's shores. But the outside world has also brought Icelanders cinema, and there is nothing like watching a film from Europe to escape the overwhelming threats and make you feel like everything is going to be all right. For Máni Steinn, the question is whether, at Reykjavik's darkest hour, he should retreat all the way into this imaginary world, or if he should engage with the society that has so soundly rejected him.

Categories: Authors, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Author of the Month

Man Booker Prize 2016: Longlist

by Madison Taylor - Thursday, Jul 28, 2016 at 1:18pm

The longlist for the £50,000 Man Booker Prize for Fiction was released on July 27. This prize, awarded for excellence in literary writing, was first introduced in 1969 and is open to authors on an international scale whose work is written originally in English and published in the United Kingdom.

This year's list of 13 outstanding books was chosen from 155 submissions published in the UK between October 1, 2015, and September 30, 2016.

The longlist, or 'Man Booker Dozen', includes the following 13 works:

A shortlist of 6 books will be chosen from this selection and announced on September 13, 2016. The winner will then be declared on October 25th at a formal gala in London.

Categories: Awards, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Literature

What To Read: Summer 2016

by Tyler Vitt - Saturday, Jul 16, 2016 at 2:12pm

With the passing of the literary torch to a new generation, Chris Hall, a passionate reader with almost 20 years of bookselling experience, has taken up the challenge of continuing Holly McNally’s stewardship of our What to Read suggestions with personal recommendations that reflect attention to the care and craft of good writing.

 Among the Ten Thousand Things by Julia Pierpont. Softcover. $22.00. The Shanleys are a prosperous family living in New York. Father Jack is a successful artist, Deb is happy raising fifteen year-old Simon and eleven year-old Kay. But Jack has done something terrible and selfish and Deb has to face the weaknesses of the man she married, while Simon and Kay are forced to deal with a grown-up world they are not quite prepared for. The power of this novel lies in the portrayal of the characters, all of them very real, with their own particular strengths and weaknesses. (Random House. June)

 The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie. Hardcover. $34.00. With its exuberance and humour, this is a perfect novel for the summer. It tells the story of Veblen (named after the economist who coined the term “conspicuous consumption”) and her fiancé, Paul, as they deal with a hypochondriac mother, institutionalized father, and a high stakes deal with the Department of Defence for his medical research findings. McKenzie produces a bold and chaotic satire of our times, as the pair try to keep the peace and repair the damage involved in their upcoming wedding. (Penguin. January)

See more What to Read selections after the jump...

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, What To Read


Potter Party Winnipeg: Name our Dragon

by Tyler Vitt - Wednesday, Jul 13, 2016 at 2:55pm

McNally Robinson has come into possession of a very special creature— our very own dragon. And we need your help naming it!

We are collecting as many potential names as we can and from all of the submissions we will choose our top five favourites. Then, during our Harry Potter Party in the Park on July 30th, we will hold a public vote to determine which of the five names will be given to the dragon, which will be announced from the mainstage just before the midnight release of Harry Potter and The Cursed Child Parts One and Two.

Visit this page to submit a name. You may submit as many names as you'd like, but we please ask that you try to limit yourself to just a couple. The deadline for submissions is July 25th, 2016.

During the party, you can also visit our Defence Against the Dark Arts tent for a chance to decorate the dragon.

Categories: Store News, Winnipeg
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