Category Archives: Mostly About Reading

Book Review: I Am Because You Are – by Jacob Lief with Andrea Thompson

Book: I Am Because You Are: how the 
spirit of Ubuntu inspired an 
unlikely friendship and transformed 
a community 
Author: Jacob Lief with Andrea 
Thompson (foreword by Desmond Tutu)
Publisher: Rodale Books
Date: May 12, 2015
Genre: nonfiction; memoir 
Pages: 240; hardcover
Price: $24.99
My rating: an inspiring motivating 
true story

I received the ARC of this book from Net Galley in exchange for my honest review.

If you ever wanted to go to Africa to help the people there, or to work in an organization that contributes, or to commit to financial or prayer support, you will enjoy this book. If you simply enjoy a good true story, give this one your time.

I Am Because You Are is the story of Jacob Lief, who, as a young student, went to Africa during his summer break from university. It was a few years after the end of the apartheid about twenty years ago and the country was still unsettled. However, Jacob had fallen in love with the country during an earlier trip there, and before he returned to the United States this time he’d decided on the purpose for his life. He passionately wanted to make a difference in the lives of the people of Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Once back in the US, his acquaintances expected him to eventually get over the idea, but it had rooted itself in his soul and, instead, he became solidly determined. In his mind, there was no other choice for him.

In I Am Because You Are, Jacob tells an intriguing, moving story of life in South Africa, how he was received as a young white man and why he started the organization known as Ubuntu Education Fund. Ubuntu means “I exist because you exist.” He tells about the challenges, the mistakes, the successes, the pitfalls, the disappointments and the celebrations. He introduces the reader to many of the people he worked with in Port Elizabeth – associates and students. We get to follow the lives of a few of the students, one family in particular, to witness the effectiveness and limitations of Ubuntu.

Jacob admits he made mistakes early on and that he was quick to correct what he could so that the organization he co-founded could continue and grow, evolving into the highly regarded service it is today.

Jacob became well acquainted with Desmond Tutu (who wrote the foreword for I Am Because You Are), the now former President Bill Clinton, and prominent heads of influential companies that donated funding.

In 2010, Jacob Lief was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. In 2012, he was selected as a member of the Clinton Global Initiative advisory board. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife and sons, and in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. I Am Because You Are was written with author Andrea Thompson.

I Am Because You Are: how the spirit of Ubuntu inspired an unlikely friendship and transformed a community is an inspiring book.  It may even motivate you to follow your passion, whatever that may be.

You can find I Am Because You Are listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

Book Review: Rainbows in the Dark – by Jan Coates

Rainbows in the DarkBook: Rainbows in the Dark
Author: Jan Coates
Illustrator: Alice Priestley
Publisher: Second Story Press
Date: January 1, 1999
Genre: Picture book ; ages 5-8
Pages: 24
Price: $14.95
My Rating: A touching, inspiring story to thrill all ages

I was delighted to find an author-signed copy of Rainbows in the Dark in a local independent bookstore. Look at the cover, isn’t it beautiful? This is a book I’d heard about but not yet seen, so I was happy to get my hands on it. Having read and reviewed (October 22’11) A Hare in the Elephant’s Trunk by Canadian author Jan Coates, and interviewed her (October 28’11,) I was eager to read this picture book.

 

This is a wonderful story about the new and different experience of a little girl out shopping with her mother. Abby did not want to shop in the secondhand clothing store and was sullen and bored waiting for her mother – until a woman came in with a dog. Abby told the lady no dogs were allowed in there, and then learned Charlie was a working dog – and the lady, Joanna, was blind.

Joanna enlisted Abby’s help finding things for a special event. In that way Abby observed what it is like to be unable to see. In appreciation for her help, Joanna gave Abby two tickets for a special event. When Abby and her mother attended, what a surprise awaited them! In fact, for Abby there were two surprises – one being a wish come true.  

Rainbows in the Dark is a lovely read, one that will bring awareness to children – and grown-ups, too – of what it is like to be visually impaired. Canadian illustrator Alice Priestley complemented Jan Coates‘ story perfectly, as I hope you will get a chance to see for yourself.  

You can find Rainbows in the Dark listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

SHHHH! This is a library!

Take a stroll with me down memory lane ….

I remember when I was a youngster in school and whole classes would get turns going to the library to read or study. That experience was usually a little nerve-racking for timid little me. I was always so afraid I would accidentally make a noise, perhaps by dropping something or whispering too loudly to the person next to me. Those were the days when libraries were quiet places.

Library_Sign_Quiet_Please

 

 

 

 

Decades later I used to take my children to the town library to borrow books. It was a small library then with that heady smell of old books, new books .. books, books, books. And it was so nice and quiet. I taught my little girls that we were not to talk out loud in there, even if it was only the librarian with us at any time. A library is a quiet place.

Now, let me tell you about my experience when I was in town for an afternoon one day last month.

After leaving my little Meyya with the groomer I had time to myself, so I decided to walk to the library. I had with me a list of books that I wanted to look for, hoping to borrow a few to see what’s new. When I walked into the library the first thing I noticed was the woman at the counter talking – loudly – to the two librarians.  hmm  I made my way to the children’s section where I attempted to find a book, any book, on my list. Over came a young mother and her little lad. She sat at a computer and began using it while her little guy wandered restlessly around looking at books, calling to her about them now and then, until finally he found a big book – somewhat advanced for him – which he brought to his mother. He asked her to read to him; she said no, she was busy but find one she would enjoy reading to him at home. She didn’t think he would like that one. (I privately wondered why he wouldn’t like it at home if he liked it there in the library. He seemed to want to learn about what it contained. ) She, in a normal speaking voice, proceeded to try to discourage him from choosing that book. He whined. loudly.

Both librarians were still busy so I finally gave up trying to locate any of the books on my list and sat at a table to read the novel I’d brought with me. Next thing I knew, the woman who was still at the counter called across the room to her friend to ask her something, and it continued. Oh my. Frustrated and annoyed I packed up my things and left, not finding out if they even have any of the books I was interested in borrowing.

My next stop was the bookstore. As soon as I walked in I felt my annoyance melt away … in the peaceful, quiet atmosphere.  *sigh*  That’s what I missed in the library. It didn’t have to be quiet in the bookstore and didn’t stay that way, but it was just so pleasant and peaceful. I was delighted to find two children’s books I’d heard about, one I read right there and reviewed on April 28, the other I purchased and will review next week.

Tell me, have you found a difference in your libraries, too? What’s happened to “Shhh, this is a library!”?

Perhaps this sign would make a difference:

quiet in library

 

 

 

 

I’ve noticed that many people don’t seem to know what to do with silence! They have to have noise of some kind, or don’t understand the lack of ‘loud’ is perfectly wonderful. What’s your opinion?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

 

Book Review: The Story of Gar – by Syr Ruus

The Story of Gar
Book: The Story of Gar
Author: Syr Ruus
Publisher: etc. Press Ltd., 
Canada
Date: 2014
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 166
Price: $20.00
My Rating: A fascinating story 
that's different and sweetly 
memorable

 

 

I was delighted to be gifted a copy of The Story of Gar by Syr Ruus. Having read both of her first two novels – Lovesongs of Emmanuel Taggart  and  Devil’s Hump – which I have also reviewed here, I was eager to find out what marvellous tale the author had written this time. I was not disappointed. 

The Story of Gar is about a young mother looking for a new home for herself and her three small children, a man who is alone and likes it that way, a family of crows also uprooted from their home. We are given the interesting view of life seen mostly from the perspective of one young crow in particular. At first notion it may seem a curious plot, however, you really should read this book! Syr Ruus has woven a story that pulls the reader in, holds one’s attention, and thrills with her storytelling.

This book is really about relationships and interactions – people with people, people with nature. The young family is needing a new life, and the man  who helps them finds his life changing – for the better – because of them. His gift to them brings a whole new dimension to everyone’s life.

The Story of Gar is a novel that a young person would enjoy. There are a couple of tastefully handled places more for mature readers, small sections that can easily be skipped over and not ruin the story should a parent/guardian prefer the younger reader not read them.

A portion of this novel was awarded the Joyce Barkhouse Award by the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia.

The Story of Gar was shortlisted in the Ken Klonsky Novella Contest (Quattro Books, Toronto.)

If you want to read this book it can be obtained directly from the author. Please write to her at: syr(at)eastlink(dot)ca 

You can find The Story of Gar listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

Book Review: Frankenstink! Garbage Gone Bad – by Ron Lightburn

Frankenstink! Garbage Gone Bad

Book: Frankenstink! Garbage Gone Bad
Author/Illustrator: Ron Lightburn
Publisher: Tundra Books
Date: March 10, 2015
Genre: Picture Book for ages 4-8
Pages: 32
Price: $19.99 CD; $17.99 US
My Rating: an excellent environmental adventure young readers will enjoy

 

 

Frankenstink! Garbage Gone Bad is written and illustrated by Ron Lightburn of Nova Scotia, Canada. I was privileged to meet Ron at his book signing in April and was delighted that he personalized a copy of Frankenstink! for me and one for my grandson. Although my grandson is almost ten I know he will enjoy this book – which I am giving him for his birthday in June, if I can wait that long!

First of all, look at that cover, shown above. It glows in the dark!

Frankenstink! Garbage Gone Bad.back cover<– And look at the back cover shown here.  Isn’t this impressive?

 

 

 

 

 

 

In fact, the book jacket is a poster! How cool is that!

Frankenstink! Garbage Gone Bad.poster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ron Lightburn is well established internationally as an illustrator, however, this is the first book he both wrote and illustrated. He told me it was a long wait until it was picked up by a publisher but it’s worth it.

Written in fun rhyme, Frankenstink! is the story of a little boy who would not clean up his room. He simply kept shoving stuff under his bed, until … one night it mutated into a huge garbage monster. Oh my! The monster was hungry for trash first and became more and more greedy. After devouring everything it could find to eat in the house, it moved on down the street to the neighbours’ garbage cans and beyond, growing bigger and smellier and nastier as it went.  I won’t give away more than that about the story, except to say there is a satisfying funny surprise ending.

The author’s descriptions along with his illustrations make this book an enjoyable environmental adventure. The gooey, oozy, garbage monster will have young readers eagerly turning pages to follow its progress.

Ron Lightburn wrote this book with a lesson in mind for children. He made recycling, composting, and cleaning up very memorable in an entertaining way through showing the experience of one young boy who refused to do them.  Released during the week of Earth Day, Frankenstink! Garbage Gone Bad is a wonderful book for children of all ages and ideal for the classroom. This book will appeal more to boys because of some of the words and creepy images the author included, but it will also appeal to girls who love a good story. And it’s simply a gorgeous book!

You can find Frankenstink! Garbage Gone Bad on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

 

Book Review: The Day the Crayons Quit – by Drew Daywalt

The Day the Crayons QuitBook: The Day the Crayons Quit
Author: Drew Daywalt
Illustrator: Oliver Jeffers

Publisher: Philomel Books
Date: 1st edition June 27, 2013
Genre: picture book
Pages: 40
Price: Kindle $8.66; hardcover price varies from about $9.00 up
My Rating: A unique idea that makes a funny story for children to
enjoy

Duncan is a little boy who loves to colour. One day he opens his crayon box to find – not crayons, but – notes from his crayons! It seems they each have filed a complaint with him, quit, and left home. Of course, each wrote the note itself so the words are in the colour of the crayon. Here are a few:

Pink crayon feels that it’s more of a colour for girls so isn’t used much. How many things are pink?

Red crayon feels it’s used too much.

Blue crayon complains about being used so much it’s become too short to see over the edge of the box.

White writes that it usually can’t be seen unless outlined.

Peach is embarrassed. It seems Duncan peeled its paper off so now it feels naked.

Yellow and orange are fighting  – something about the colour of the sun – so aren’t speaking to one another anymore.

Poor Duncan. What is he to do? You’ll have to read the book to find out what he comes up with to make them all happy. :)

This is a funny, well-written story young children should enjoy having read to them, and later learning to read themselves. This reader wanted to know what colour’s note would come next and what problem would be presented. The illustrations are cute and nicely done, with the crayons’ printing like a young child would do.

This book by Drew Daywalt was rated as Amazon Best Children’s Book of 2013.

You can find The Day the Crayons Quit on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

 

Can you help me find a book?

When I was a little girl (many years ago) in elementary school we didn’t have a local library. The bookmobile is what I remember, and for the small, very shy young girl I was, it was scary and intimidating. The other children were excited to climb on board, pushing their way to the shelves of books, but I would hang back in awe and hesitation.

When I was successfully coaxed into the bus with the other children, the smell of those many books captivated me. How would I ever choose a book? What did I even look for on those floor to ceiling shelves? Oh my! It was amazing and overwhelming.

I wish I could recall the name of the book I was given to read and that I grew to love. Being a slow reader at that time, devouring every word and scene and visualizing everything as I went along, the book I borrowed I never got to finish. It had to go back after awhile so others could enjoy it. What a disappointment! I don’t think it ever came back around to my school, although I timidly asked several times.

Even yet, how much I wish I could find that book again. Now I wonder if I were to put out my very vague descriptions is there anyone out there who will take what I can share and know what I am talking about?

It could be that my memories are of two books combined in my mind, two books that stirred up my imagination and wonder. Here’s all I can remember of them now: 

  • a child looking at herself in the mirror discovered the child looking back at her was not really herself but someone else, and seeing her from a different world she could come to her through the mirror. It seems to me that meant trouble, mischief, but I can’t recall what happened.
  • I think – maybe  in another book – there was a peculiar little man who came to help care for children and he could fly somehow and take them on adventures. He also was dearly loved by the children because he was fun and safe and adventurous. His name may have begun with a P .. but I’m unsure about that;
  • I think the children’s parents would not always agree with what he allowed, even though it was not dangerous or anything;
  • He also only stayed a certain amount of time and then had to move on, maybe because the children had outgrown him so he was going to others to care for them.

Does any of this sound familiar? Oh, how I wish I could remember what those book titles were! I would so love to find them now, especially the one about Mister … somebody, but with only the above to go by it is probably impossible. I have more impressions than memories I can put into words about it. Know what I mean?

If you think you might be able to help me I would be delighted! and very happy. :) Please let me know.

Is there a book you wish you could find from … way back when?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)