Skip to main content


Showing posts from November, 2016

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…

The Tobacconist by Robert Seethaler

The simplicity of a novel set in the backdrop of a devastating war is refreshing. Life after all, goes on. People adapt to their situation and make the most of it. There is genuineness about this type of storytelling, told with an air of normalcy, intent on capturing a moment in time. 

Seventeen-year-old Franz Huchel finds himself in a bit of a conundrum when his mom’s wealthy lover, suddenly passes away. Young Franz has been used to a life of leisure until now in the little fishing village of Nussdorf am Attersee. 

"Unlike all the other lads, he didn't have to spend the whole day crawling around a salt mine or a dung heap somewhere, earning a meagre living. Instead he could stroll about the forest from dawn till dusk, bare his belly to the sun on one of those wooden jetties, or simply lie in bed when the weather was bad and lose himself in thoughts and dreams. All that was over now, though."
With Alois Preininger's untimely death, there are no more free rides for youn…

Burt's Way Home by Jason Martz

"You'll understand when you're older." But Burt understands plenty. A book about the sweetest of optimism. |