November 30, 2010

Pop-up Fairy Tale

Beauty & the Beast: A Pop-up Book of the Classic Fairy Tale
by Robert Sabuda

Another spectacular feat of paper engineering by the incomparable Robert Sabuda. Of note are the pull-up accordian booklets that let you inside the depths of the Beast's castle, the dark, terrifying beast himself, and his transformation. The text isn't quite up to par, but that's to be expected when  overshadowed by 9-inch tall sculptures.
A terrific gift for kids of all ages.

November 25, 2010

Last gasp of summer

The Big Swim
by Cary Fagan

Ethan hadn't wanted to attend summer camp, but camp turns out to be better than expected. He's not the worst at anything, and he's not hated either. Then a new boy is assigned to his cabin.

Zach is rumoured to be a bad boy, expelled from one camp after another. Ethan isn't sure if the rumours are true or not, but he's fascinated by him. Zach is different: he despises nicknames, listens to Buddy Holly, and refuses to participate in camp activities, except for the Big Swim. When he's barred from the event, which involves swimming to the island and back, he turns to Ethan for help.

The Big Swim is a short, yet intriguing book. Many things are left unsaid: Zach's family background, his previous camp experiences, Amber's letter to Ethan. But it's a book that makes you think. A good book for ages 8- 12.

November 23, 2010

Soccer players speak

Soccer is truly an international game; a shared passion played all over the world. A Beautiful Gamecelebrates this popular sport through the stories of some of the world's most well-known players - David Beckham, Lionel Messi, Gilberto Silva, Claudio Su├írez, and others (42 in all). What these men all share is an abiding love for soccer, played as often as possible: on streets, dirt, grass, gravel or any available surface. In fact, their stories are so similar that some of them are less than compelling. However, the wonderful photographs scattered throughout the book more than make up for it.

November 18, 2010

The tragedy of extinction

The Race To Save The Lord God Bird
by Phillip Hoose

The Ivory-billed Woodpecker was a large black-and-white bird that used to roam the American south and parts of Cuba. It instilled awe in anyone who saw it; their cry of Lord God, What a bird! gave the bird its nickname.

Hoose's amazing book spans 200 years of history, introducing hunters, bird collectors, artists, and lumber companies. The first chapters are disturbing and saddening as whole families of birds are killed for prestige, fashion, and scientific study. It is especially tragic knowing that early ornithologists, although great contributors to our knowledge of birds, were often responsible for a species' demise, as were the many museums clamoring for specimens. Conservation was not on anyone's agenda; in fact, demand for a bird increased the closer it was to extinction! Thank goodness today's ornithologists would rather study live birds than dead ones.

The best chapters take readers deep into a Louisiana swamp, where James Tanner, a young ornithology student, struggles to find the last remaining ivory-bill and save its ever shrinking habitat. He was only partially successful.

Over the years, there have been sightings, although none officially documented. The search is still on for the Lord God bird; perhaps one day, it will return. Until then, we can only hope.

November 16, 2010

Children Make Terrible Pets!

Children Make Terrible Pets
by Peter Brown

When Lucy the Bear finds a cute critter in the forest, she takes him home with her. She's convinced that Squeaker will make the best pet ever. She soon finds out that little boys are impossible to train. 

The author makes good use of word balloons to tell his story, and his hilarious illustrations are very appealing. Where else could you find a bear in a tutu? I also liked Lucy's kangaroo outfit!

Read an interview with Peter Brown on Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast

November 11, 2010

Indian fairy tales

Indian Children's Favourite Stories
retold by Rosemarie Somaiah

A charming collection of Indian folk tales that provide insights into India's culture and history. The stories include that of Munna, who cleverly tricks the Raja into giving away his entire granary of rice; Raman, a mischievous village boy who becomes a king's jester; and foolish Guruswami, who sets out to find even more foolish people than himself. Accompanied by colourful drawings, these tales will be enjoyed by ages 5-8.

November 9, 2010

Celebrate Divali

Festival of Light: Deepavali Legends from around India
by Radhika Sekar

A collection of seven stories that explain the origins of the Deepavali festival. Within these pages, you will meet the great god Vishnu, Ravana the ten-headed rakshasa (an ogre), Hanuman the half human/half monkey warrior, and the fierce goddess Mahadevi, who liked to dance.

For anyone who enjoys fairy tales, battles, and fantastical creatures.

November 4, 2010

All about money

Money, Money, Money: Where it Comes From, How to Save it, Spend it & Make it
by Eve Drobot

It's that time of year again, when stores try to get you to buy, buy, buy. Before you part with your money, maybe you'd like to learn about money: where it comes from, how it's made, how it grows, how to spend it, and how to earn it. Written in a lively, engaging style, this is an informative, entertaining book that would make a great gift (with cash, of course!).

November 2, 2010

Nation - Pratchett's best book


Mau is returning from the Boys' Island when he is caught up in a tidal wave. His village, the Nation, is gone. It is up to him to rebuild it, with the help of a shipwrecked girl. A lot of cultural misunderstandings occur, but gradually, a new Nation is created. 

A very thought-provoking novel, with multiple themes of loss, love, courage, religion, and politics. Interesting subplots, discoveries, and insights keep readers entertained until the very last page. Highly recommended.