Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Prairie People

Finished October 26
Prairie People: A Celebration of My Homeland by Robert Collins

This is a collection of observations, conversations, research, and interviews with Canadians either from, or living in the three prairie provinces.
I came across this book clearing out the books from my in-laws house, and grabbed it to read, since I am, after all, from the prairies myself.
It was an interesting collection of people's outlooks, feelings, memories, and more. Collins has grouped them topically to make this collection.
There are tales about the prairie and its effect on those who live there, good memories and bad, lots of variety of farming stories, stories of towns and cities, food and religion, oil and politics, loneliness and community. 
There is the outlook of those who came from the prairies but no longer live there, and there is a look to the future.
This book was more than a decade old when I came across it, but much is still relevant and all of it interesting.

Friday, 1 November 2019

13th Canadian Book Challenge November Roundup

Post the reviews from the books that you read this month here. I'm away for a few days, so the reading stats in the sidebar won't be updated until next week.

Have fun as always.

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Nutcracker Night

Finished October 20
Nutcracker Night by Mireille Messier and Gabrielle Grimard

This delightful picture book would make a lovely December gift for a young child. It is a story centered around a young girl as she attends a performance of The Nutcracker at New York City's David H. Koch Theater with her father. This is a story full of sounds, sights, and new experiences.
The girl's tale begins on the way to the theatre, where she observes the traffic and its noises, the noise of the world around her and even of her own clothing.
Then they are at the theatre and the join the crowd, showing their tickets, listening to the orchestra tune up, and await the beginning of the performance.
There are many wonderful sounds and sights during the performance, from both the stage and the audience. The intermission arrives and with it sounds of refreshment and excitement, with the young audience members geared up for the rest of the show. And then the final half of the show, with more wonder and interesting sounds. The story ends with a kiss on the cheek of the father as she thanks him for the evening out.
The pictures here are charming, bringing the characters, audience members, musicians, and dancers to life. We see the rosy cheeks, the children awed by the night and the ones eager for more. There are many children, as would be expected for this ballet, and lots of ages of adults. Fathers and mothers, diversity of people, and a range of festive attire. Outside the snow is falling, and inside the magic makes everything else disappear. Beautifully done. 

Monday, 28 October 2019

Tears of Salt

Finished October 19
Tears of Salt: A Doctor's Story of the Refugee Crisis by Pietro Bartolo and Lidia Tilotta, translated by Chenxin Jiang

This is the memoir of Pietro Bartolo, a man who grew up on the Italian island of Lampedusa, and returned there as a doctor. His career there has been marked by the enormous flood of refugees arriving from Africa, many in dire physical condition.
The story jumps around from his personal life, growing up, going to school on the mainland, working as a doctor, stories of meeting his wife who is also a doctor, dealing with the huge numbers of refugees arriving on the island, struggling for support for the work he does, working in his field of obstetrics as well as whatever is needed by the local people and refugees, acting as a coroner and doing autopsies on the refugees who don't survive their flight to freedom and a better life.
I learned many things about the situation there, adding to the knowledge I had from news stories.
The book does not move in a linear fashion, but moves around in time back and forth. Bartolo is obviously hugely affected by the stories he witnesses, but also aware that he is only there for a brief moment in these people's lives, and he doesn't know much of their stories before or after their passage through his island.

The Recipe Box

Finished October 13
The Recipe Box by Viola Shipman, read by Susan Bennett

The story begins with Alice Mullins making an apple crisp in the 1930s at the orchard farm her and her husband own in Wisconsin, but quickly jumps to the present day, with her great granddaughter Samantha working as a pastry chef in New York City. Sam doesn't like or respect the man she works for, a phony who goes by the name Chef Dimples and never actually cooks himself, and who treats his staff badly.
Samantha is making a pie for Chef Dimples appearance on Good Morning America, when he behaves horribly and disrespectfully towards her, and she ends up quitting. She decides to take a break and go home to Wisconsin for a while to regroup and lick her wounds. She's enjoyed her time in New York City, attending cooking school, making friends with other women her age both as classmates, roommates, and coworkers. She's kept herself busy and made no time for relationships despite the attentions of a young New Jersey produce delivery driver.
Back home in Wisconsin, she doesn't at first admit to her family that she's left her job, and she hears more family stories, spends time in the orchard and the kitchen of the family-run bakery business and thinks about her future.
Each section of the book has a recipe, all of them sounding absolutely delicious. I'm definitely going to try some out. I liked the continuity of the family and learning the story of each generation, their struggles, and their successes.
This was a fun read, centered around families and food, with the Mullins slogan of "Pie equals Love" coming through loud and clear.

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Triceratops Stomp

Finished October 12
Triceratop Stomp by Karen Patkau

This picture book will be great for all the dinosaur enthusiasts. In addition to the triceratops of the title, there are other dinosaurs pictured in the book and there is a key at the back explaining the different types and giving basic information on them. The back cover endpapers also show the sizes of the various dinosaurs compared to each other and to humans.
The story follows a new generation of triceratops from their hatching through a few early adventures. There is lots of word repetition, onomatopoeia, alliteration and fun sounds to keep a youngster interested in what's happening. The drawings are simple, but have lots of movement and interest. I loved the proliferation of different greens here. A fun read.

The Castle in the Sea

Finished October 9
The Castle in the Sea by Mardi McConnochie

This is the second book in the series that began with The Flooded Earth. The boat the children are on has hit a storm as the book begins, and the sea is very rough. Annalie is safety conscious and makes everyone put on their life vest, and they struggle to put the sails down, but the mast is damaged before they complete it and two people have gone overboard. Annalie is torn over what to do, but sticks with the boat. After the seas calm she goes searching, and we see the story from both her and her brother Will's point of view. With pirates in the waters, the Admiralty still searching hard for them, and their options limited, the four struggle on, still searching for Annalie and Will's father Spinner.
This is a story of resilience and determination as the four children use the resources and skills they have as they deal with new and often frightening situations. The terrible strength of water arises more than once here, and they learn to look for solutions that are not always the obvious ones. I enjoyed seeing the characters develop further. Pod comes out of his shell and Essie shows new determination. Annalie surprises the others with the things she is able to stay calm in the face of. Looking forward to the third book.