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Showing posts from May, 2016

It Ain't So Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas

Filled with humour, charm and genuine cultural references. It Ain't So Awful Falafel is a lens into the immigrant experience. 
When we meet Cindy a.k.a Zomorod at the beginning of the book, she is struggling with culture shock as she acclimatizes and adapts to life in the U.S. Zomorod was born in Abadan, Iran, and now eleven, is on her way with her family to Newport Beach from Compton, California. She has moved four times in her life. Who does that? 

She also tells new people she meets that her name is Cindy (it's just easier that way). Like any other kid of immigrant parents, she struggles to understand why her parents are so different from the Joneses and Smiths. She's embarrassed of their accents and her mother's lack of English. When she meets strangers she thinks her dad will start talking about the oil industry and her mom will probably say something that makes no sense. She's really like any other preteen except for the added cultural barriers. 

She may have cha…

Guess Whose Birthday It Is?


Sophie La Girafe has had a busy day today. After all it's her birthday. Can you believe that she's 55 this year. She sure doesn't look a day older than one. 
Perhaps it's because she wakes up early and busies herself with lots of jobs. 

Read all about it in Sophie's Busy Day, one of the lovely books in Sophie's Little Library. The other two are Peekaboo Sophie and Colors.

This delightful collection is a must for every Sophie fan, who simply won't be able to resist the curiosity of interacting and touching the book as they read along. 

For more wonderful Sophie La Girafe books to add to your collection visit this special Sophie page

Whatever Happened To My Sister by Simona Ciraolo

Funny. Sensitive. Charming. 

There's a bond between sisters that is unexplainable. I spoke about this when I represented Saleema Nawaz's Bone & Bread at CBC's Appel Salon event on March 8th. That book was meant for an older audience. Now, I've stumbled upon another book that will appeal to the younger audience, and it is delightful and heartwarming. 

Told from the perspective of the younger sister,  Whatever Happened To My Sister by Simona Ciraolo evokes genuine emotions packaged in a straightforward conversational manner. The crux of the story is how while becoming a teen can seem like it will change things between sisters, it doesn't have to. The bond evolves and is strengthen with new behaviours that are just as strong as the previous ones.

The plot begins with the younger sister explaining the issue at hand. She is honest with her observations; something is different and she really doesn't know when it was "that someone had replaced my sister with a g…

Everyone Brave Is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

Humour. Heartbreak. Heartwarming. 

If there is one author who can take a period piece set during the devastating realities of the Second World War, and turn it into a relatable, heart-warming story, written from three very different perspectives, Chris Cleave is probably the guy to do it. Author of Gold and Little Bee, he has a way of adding a lyrical bounce to the prose moving the story along an insouciant path towards life’s adventure. 
The lens is cast from London’s high society. Each of the three individuals, Mary North, Tom Shaw, and Alistair Heath, see the war from different perspectives. Mary North is the daughter of an MP, and thinks that war is “after all, morale in helmets and jeeps". London was a city in love with beginnings and Mary was eager to do her part. She's convinced that she'd make a marvellous spy and rather disappointed when she is appointed a teaching role. She's certain it's probably some sort of big mistake but, full of life and optimism, sh…

Skunk On A String by Thao Lam

Wordless. Playful. Dreamy.

Skunk On A String is the brainchild of debut writer/illustrator Thao Lam. Coming from a background in graphic design, Thao Lam tells a story that is bold and daring, without any words and full of visuals that string us along for a beautiful ride. These pictures really do tell a thousands words.

Watch the book trailer from Owl Kids

The skunk drifts through the city, one leg tangled in the string of a red balloon. People are amused as the skunk passes by, not knowing what to make of this bizarre sight. One of his first interactions is with a woman who is hanging her laundry to dry on a clothes line. She tries to save the skunk with a pair of boxer shorts, but alas the skunk cannot grab on. 
The red balloon carries him high into the sky at the top of a building construction site, where the workers are sitting on the beam eating their lunch. While some of them are afraid of the skunk, one steelworker worker offers his sandwich. 

This cheers up the skunk and after tha…

This House Is Alive by Scot Ritchie

What better than #NationalRealEstateDay to review My House Is Alive

"Have you ever noticed there are some noises you only hear at night?"
This kids'  book is an exploration and explanation of the noises a house makes. 

From knocks, thumps, banks, to trickles, creaks and gurgles, a house is full of those curious sounds. But, the book is neat in that it teaches kids not to fear them and gives them a scientific reason for their occurrence. 

Kids are introduced to the basic scientific concepts, from energy, structures and matter. For those little science nerds, this book will entertain for hours and hours. And, you may have to be all ears when they the little know-it-alls repeat it back to you. 

------------------------------------------- This House Is Alive is published by Chirp, chickaDEE and OWL
Blog post by @ShilpaRaikar (Creative and Social Media strategist, decor enthusiast and book lover, who also writes for a branding blog:, as well as a lifestyle blog:…

GIRAFFE on a BICYCLE by Julia Woolf

A simple premise. 
Monkey finds a bicycle. 
Luckily, giraffe knows how to ride it....

And, although they have to wiggle and wobble to find the perfect balance, they are able to pedal alongfor a bumpety bump ride. Practice makes perfect after all. 

Along the way, other animals in the jungle join them for some fun, one by one. From the sleepy stripy tiger, the leaping lemurs, to the slithering snake and crocodile...there's no discrimination on this bicycle. As monkey says, "Plenty of room for you!" 

But soon, they are WHOOSHING through the jungle so fast that it's not surprising that the are headed for a crash. 

But, Julia Woolf throws in a wonderful message of teamwork. All the animals have something to contribute to fixing the bicycle. 

Snake snatches the saddle.
Giraffe grabs the basket.

Everyone has a part and knows exactly what to do. 

Cute. Adorable. Unexpected. 

Julia Woolf is the author and illustrator of this bright, bold book. A great story time book for kids who want a…

The Paris Secret by Karen Swan

Art. Mystery. Romance.

Everything you expected from Paris, and more. 

Despite the title, The Paris Secret is not wholly set in The City of Light. Rather, Karen Swan's latest novel spans Paris, Vienna, Antibes, and London, and takes you on an adventure that uncovers both hidden pasts, and secrets of epic proportions. 

Down a Paris cobbled street, a long-forgotten dust cloaked apartment is found. But there is more to the story; there is a secret -- the apartment contains contains priceless art that dates back to Vichy France. Why did Madame Vermeil's father-in-law keep the apartment hidden from his family, with only a letter that outlined it's whereabouts and specific instructions that it not be accessed until after his wife's death? 

So, how does the secret come out? After the property has been broken into, the letter is forwarded to the family informing them of the apartment's existence. Although Madame Vermeil's mother-in-law is alive, she is eager to see what'…

A Dog Day for Susan by Maureen Fergus and Monica Arnaldo

This is the third book I've read by Maureen Fergus, and by far the most advanced. The first book, And What If I Won't, was interesting premise and a hilarious read when you put into context of children misbehaving. With InvisiBill, Maureen Fergus captured a snapshot of life today, where both parents work, and technology rules our lives. And, she did it with a brilliant tongue-and-cheek style that delivers maximal impact and drama, while continuing to keep the rhythm of the narrative. 

Now, her new book A Dog Day For Susan is published by Owl Kids, and captures a different point of view. But keeping true to her writing style, Maureen Fergus attempts to give a bit of feistiness to the main character in her story.

Great Aunt Alice, and her dog, Susan, are slated to visit Spencer and his family. Spencer has been told that Susan is very dignified and graceful, a bit unlike his own unruly pup, Barney. With an open point of view, Spencer is happy to oblige; both he an Barney look forwa…

Ultimate Star Wars: May The 4th Be With You

[stepping on board the Millennium Falcon] "Chewie... we're home" ~ Han Solo (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Star Wars Episode 7 – The Force Awakens came and went and it simply did not satiate the appetite for all things related to the Star Wars universe so now we fanboys and fangirls await Rogue One, which will be released this December 2016. 
In the meantime, the next generation of fans needs to get caught up. But how?
Think of the original Star Wars trilogy (now re-branded as Episodes 4-6 and called A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and The Return of the Jedi) and how it captivated a generation of fanboys who are now probably middle aged. Now think of the generation that was supposed to be attracted to the second trilogy, the prequel episodes 1-3 (The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and The Revenge of the Sith) and how it garnered big box office receipts among a younger eager to explore and the older generation eager to relive.

Now on this #MayThe4thBeWithYou #Star…

Earth's Mightiest Heroes: Assembled

Fans Assemble! With Captain America: Civil War releasing in North American theaters on May 6 and a steady stream of Marvel superhero movies being released from now till May 2019, culminating in The Avengers: Infinity War (Part 2) finale, there's plenty to keep fans of the genre busy and satiated. 

But what about the comic books? 

I recall collecting (and spending a lot of money on) the Marvel Universe comic books as a kid --alas, like many a fanboy -- but honestly, once those were bagged in mylar, stored with acid-free backing boards, and locked up in a temperature controlled cabinet they were seldom opened again. 
For those who love the Marvel Universe in general and The Avengers in particular, there's nothing that compares to the DK's The Avengers Encyclopedia

This isn't a regular encyclopedia -- remember those big books those of us old enough looked up for information before it became ubiquitous to "Google" everything -- this is a well-made, handsome hardcov…