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Showing posts from August, 2018

The Arts: A Visual Encyclopedia (DK Publishing)

Hey, remember Peter Weller? People of my vintage will. He starred in futuristic sci-fi movies that have a cult following today: think of Robocop and The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai across the 8th Dimension. Why do I bring him up? The thespian's love of the arts was boundless: he went from playing trumpet in a campus band as an undergrad, getting a BA in theatre, and making a living as an actor. But it didn't end there, after his best acting days were over he continued his graduate studies, ultimately gaining a PhD in Italian Renaissance Art History from UCLA in 2014. 
We're told of the importance of STEM in terms career prospects today --  indeed, yours truly is a former engineer but despite the practicality of all things scientific, technological and mathematical, I firmly subscribe to the notion that Art Give Life Meaning. I care little whether one loathes or loves Nietzsche, but I will say that he had a point that life required a balance between the Apollonian (intelle…

The Seven Pablos by Jorge Luján and Chiara Carrer

What’s in a name? Does a name identify who you are? In Jorge Luján’s book, there are seven boys who share the name Pablo. But although there is a commonality in the name, there is an individuality about where they come from. Living in different parts of the Americas, Jorge Luján does an incredible job pulling the reader into each of their complex lives...lives that aren't privileged. 
There are some very heavy topics covered. There is a Pablo who wants to become "big guy in a uniform. When asked why, he has a shockingly honest answer. He's asked to draw it, and what ensues is a learning lesson for the boy. 
The hard charcoal drawings give those stories more weight and seriousness. Yet, there is a lightheartedness to the book...well some stories. But that's reality isn't it. Through the darkness of our existence, we try to find some comfort and joy.
The Seven Pablos is one children's book that will change the way kids perceive their world and serve as a teaching e…

Human Body: A Visual Encyclopedia

I am the first to admit that I never 'got' biology, and much to my mom's lament, my disinterest in biology generally and the workings of the human body in particular precluded me from pursuing a career in medicine. But what about the kids today that are in the same predicament that I was in decades ago? Or better yet, what about the kids who have shown an interest and need it to be piqued further? May I humbly recommend DK's fully revised, and updated new edition of Human Body: A Visual Encyclopedia available in Hardback, Paperback, and e-book format.  

On DK's website, the descriptor is apt: The first substantial human body encyclopedia aimed at young children, Human Body: A Visual Encyclopedia entertains and excites, while putting key biological information at young readers' fingertips. 

Can't get the kids out of bed in the morning, or convince them to get to bed on time at night? Have them read this write up on the body clock and do the test on the right &…

Thomas the Tank Engine rolls back into town with his friends

Fans of the famous Thomas the Tank Engine series will be delighted with this new character encyclopedia from DK Books

I realized how beloved these characters were to kids and adults alike, when I fell in love with them myself about 20 years ago working as a behaviour therapist with autistic kids. I didn't grow up in Canada myself, but I could tell how important a part these adorable train characters played in the cultural mosaic of family dynamics. They had a universal language that transpired geographical borders. 
In the digital age where we seem to have become obsessed with stories, we have to be reminded that storytelling has always been a part of our lives. Advertisers told stories around their products, and toys such as the Thomas & Friends series were no exception. Created to connect, these characters relate to children differently, each child gravitating to a particular favourite. 

In this encyclopedia, you get a snapshot, of the trains themselves and the island where t…

There, There

In Tommy Orange’s novel There  There, there is an undercurrent of community, as well as an intricacy to the stories that give the sense of individualism. Of course, savvy readers will note the title's reference to Gertrude Stein's famous quote "there is not there there" pertaining to Oakland, California -- where the novel is set. Various chapters of the book focus on members of a community of urban native Americans. As each tell their story, the reader is drawn into a world where the struggles of a previous generation and the country as a whole, are greatly weaved into current lives. In one story, you come across a young man, whose mom is in jail, and who was born with fetal alcohol syndrome.
The stories are braided. You start to understand that as you motor through the book. Each of the characters and their stories lead them on a journey to a pow wow (a social gathering of various Native American communities). Tommy Orange tempts his readers to take away something bigg…