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Showing posts from 2016

A Boy Called Christmas

An Impossibility is just a Possibility that you don't understand

'Tis the season when one of our most beloved heroes comes down the chimney and drops off something special for those of us who've been nice. So what a great time to read a book that perfectly ties to that feeling of joy, love and hope? A Boy Called Christmas is the story of that hero, and Matt Haig aims to delight the kid in all of us. 

The book centres around an 11-year-old boy named Nikolas, who heads off to the Far North in search of his father, Joel, the woodcutter. Joel, has been commissioned to venture up to the Far North with six other men to find Elfhelm, a mythical place where elves are believed to dwell. But does this place really exist? 

Joel really needs the money, and the huge reward of twelve thousand rubels from the king, is an even bigger motivation for him to make that dangerous expedition hundreds of miles in search of Elfhelm village. The journey takes him to Seipäjärvi, Finland, and beyond th…

Just one coin may save the day

This is a story about Collin -- a boy who loves collecting coins. Collin is very disciplined and spends hours arranging all his beloved coins by size, or shape, country or state, and sometimes even by smell or taste. (A word of caution from the writer: DO NOT try the latter.) 
Collin has a favourite coin. One that he always keeps in his pocket, and turns from silver quarter into a golden dollar, with a tricky flick. 
Because of his obsession, Collin always is trying to get more coins. One fine day, in search of coins, Collin puts his hand deep down into the forgotten spaces of the couch. These are spaces that can be very, very dangerous, and soon Collin learns why. 
"Down, in the deep, dark cave that lies below the cushions and springs of your couch, dwells MARGARASH." 
This monster, is just waiting to pull boys like Collin down into his world and trap them in his cage. Margarash believes that all the coins that fall through the couch are for him, and he's got a mound of coi…

The Perfect Escape For The Holidays

Most often than not, life doesn't usually turn out the way you want it to. Plans unravel, and the path of life can meander into the darkest of dark corners. This was the case for Zoe Maisey. Three years ago, this seventeen-year-old musical prodigy with an IQ worthy of Mensa, was involved in a tragic incident -- one that left three of Zoe's classmates dead. After serving her time, she's back, and ready to pursue her musical career once again. 

Life has changed for her: her parents separated in the tragedy's aftermath, and her mom, Maria, now has a new man and a new step son in her life. They don't know anything about Zoe's past; Maria has made sure of keeping it a secret. 

At the start of the novel, Zoe's is about to deliver her debut recital, hoping to once again ingratiate herself under the musical spotlight. Her mother has been planning this night for months. Zoe's prodigious talent presented itself when she was only three years old, and Maria made it h…

Imagination and kindness are at the centre of this vintage children's book

Be charmed by this piece of vintage storytelling 
Originally published in 1958, Roland by Nelly Stéphane & André François is a whimsical story that captures your imagination and your heart. The vintage drawings take you back to a time of simplicity and innocence. The duo writing/illustrator team were quite legendary. Nelly Stéphane was a French writer and famous graphic designer and illustrator, whereas AndréFrançois art and illustrations graced many covers of the New Yorker magazine. Did you also know that he studied withPicasso? Small world indeed. 

In this book, the story centres around a boy called Roland who finds himself in situations where he has nothing to do. To pass the time, he starts to draw things, which immediately come to life as soon as he says "CRACK". 
When the teacher sends him to the corner because he is late for school, Roland draws a tiger. The tiger becomes real and stretches out in front of the teacher, who informs him that there's no room in the…

Métis Beach by Claudine Bourbonnais

An epic historical snapshot, chronicling the great sixties in America, Métis Beach will be well received by readers who want to read a story that's real, taut, gripping, and willing to take you on an emotional roller coaster during an tumultuous period. 

The story circles around Roman Carr (a.k.a. Romain Carrier) who has a successful television series, In Gad We Trust, a scathing satire of the America's  relationship with God. For a man who fled his past in a Gaspé Peninsula village in 1962, Roman is doing quite well for himself. 
The story takes on a lot of issues - from feminism, inequality, and the social unrest that played out in the sixties. Growing up in Métis Beach, in northern Quebec, Roman was well aware of the cultural divide between classes and races; the "French" (francophones) generally worked in blue collar jobs as maids, maids, or gardeners, cooks and gardeners, for the "British" (anglophones). "You didn't need a border to know you were…

This Holiday Season, Travel through 13.8 billion years of History

What is it?
Perhaps I had been hiding under a rock but I must confess that prior to reading DK's impressive book Big History (more on that later) the Big History Project was new to me. In a nutshell, the term "Big History", coined by Australian academic David Christian of Macquarie University, is a new way of thinking about history and our species place within the timeline of how we conceive history. 

The conventional history view -- one that we are aware of from primary education and beyond -- covers a timeline spanning approximately seven thousand years (5000 BCE to present day). By contrast, Big History encompasses 13.8 billion years (Big Bang to present day). Moreover, the Big in Big History isn't an exaggeration: it takes a multidisciplinary approach that includes the hard sciences, and social sciences as well as the humanities. In contrast to conventional history, which is grounded in the deep dive of getting into the minutiae of a particular specialism within a …

Lines, Squiggles, Letters, Words

Learning to read can be a daunting task. Writer Ruth Rocha and illustrator Madalena Matoso, have done a phenomenal job in immersing the reader in a journey that is wondrous and enlightening. LINES, SQUIGGLES, LETTERS, WORDS was born in Brazil, but with a little help by translator Lyn Miller-Lachmann, can now be enjoyed by children this side of the equator. 

The story is so simple in its telling, yet so powerful in its execution. At the centre of the book is Pedro, a little boy who is very observant. He hasn’t yet learnt to read, but as he looks out into the world, he is bombarded with messages and visuals everywhere. None of it makes any sense to him. Imagine his frustration. Despite his mom’s attempt to assign meaning to these random posters, billboards and signs, all Pedro can see around him is a bunch of squiggles, and drawings, which apparently represent various things. 
Then one day a wonderful thing happens. Pedro's teacher showed the class a big colourful board. The big A she…

Think positive. Be positive.


"We are what we think." 

This is the wonderful message in Owl Kids new book Abigail the Whale by Davide Cali & Sonja Bougaeva. 

Abigail dreads swimming lessons! She'd always try to be last in line because she'd be afraid to hear words like "Abigail is a whale" when she dived in. 

Unfortunately, the teasing didn't stop here. When she tried to dive, there was more taunting from the other kids. 

But her teacher was encouraging and told her that she was actually a good swimmer. He told her that all the negative thought were in her head. 

"We are what we think," her teacher said. 
"If you want to swim well, you have to think light. Do you suppose birds or fish think they're too heavy? 

And so, Abigail decides to put that principle to the test. Whether it's thinking thoughts that would extinguish fear of the needle, or to put herself to sleep, Abigail is surprised at the impact of positive thinking.   

A wonderful book abou…

Puns can be fun when done right

Have You Seen My Trumpet?
By Michael Escoffier & Kris Di Giacomo

Beautifully illustrated seaside scenes, juxtaposed with visual puns, make Have You Seen My Trumpet? unique. There was an earlier book in this series with the same idea. But the play of words in Have You Seen My Trumpet? is by far superior, and playful. And it's especially delightful when you realize that this book isn’t predictable, unlike a lot children's books which tend to be just that.
Some playful examples from Have You Seen My Trumpet?
Who thinks it's  too crowded? This line accompanies a visual of a bunch of animals in a crowded boat standing cheek to cheek. The crow is the reference point in this instant, and he looks absolutely grumpy. 
Who is chasing the pigeon? This beautiful beach scene shows a pig chasing, what else, a pigeon with an ice cream cart. The water coloured illustration shows the sea, with a ship in the background. The other animals like a porcupine, a stork, a bear, a flock of flamingoe…

Marcel by Eda Akaltun

New York through the eyes of a French bulldog. What could be more enticing than that? Marcel is a posh little dog, who lives in Manhattan with his owner. He loves exploring all things New York with her. And, he sure is a true New Yorker, strutting through New York with the human, stopping by mouth-watering bagel joints, enjoying a pampering day at the fru fru dog spa, and swinging by the park to listen to some soothing jazz. Marcel just loves life in downtown New York City.

Uptown, seems to be quite another story. Marcel definitely doesn't like uptown. He doesn't understand what humans like uptown, except perhaps the Museum. 
Things are all fine and dandy, until one day, there’s a new human in town. This guy is taking up all of his owner’s time. She giggles and flirts with the new human and doesn't seem to mind constantly bumping into him. But Marcel minds. And he minds even more when they start hanging out a lot more. This new human also likes to hang out uptown a lot. Marc…

Good Night Tiger by Timothy Knapman and Laura Hughes

What do you do when you just can't get to sleep? 





That's exactly what Emma tried to get the tiger in her wallpaper to fall asleep. But alas, her good intentions were met with some resistance. 

The tiger couldn't have a bath in the watering hole because the crocodiles got in the way.

The hot chocolate that the animals made with mud, turned out to be disgusting. 

When Emma started to sing a lullaby, all the animals in the jungle joined in too, and it became too LOUD.

Emma was tired and exhausted and out of ideas....until....

One brilliant solution came to mind. 


Good Night Tiger is a delightful tale full of imagination and quirky storytelling while putting it right into context with kids' bedtime. You could say it's the perfect bedtime story. Curbing insomnia with a bedtime expectedly unexpected. 

Timothy Knapman does a wonderful job bringing in the fantasy to the narrativ…