Category Archives: Mostly About Reading

Book Review: One Plastic Bag – by Miranda Paul

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Book: One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling 
Women of the Gambia
Author: Miranda Paul
Illustrator: Elizabeth Zunon
Publisher: Millbrook Press
Date: 2015
Genre: children's; age 6-9; gr 1-4
Pages: 32
Price: $19.99
My rating: True story superbly told for children to 
understand its importance

One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia was written by Miranda Paul after hearing about this success story and doing extensive research to get it just right.

This is a true story, simplified for the sake of the genre. However, even simplified it is a dramatic and very impressive story of change.

In 1970 Isatou is born in Gambia. She grows up seeing, and then using, plastic bags that seem to be more convenient to use than the handmade baskets she used for carrying things. The problem is the plastic bags, when no longer useful, do not degrade and mix back into the earth like the baskets. They become an unmanageable, unhealthy, dangerous accumulation of garbage in the village and surrounding villages. The plastic bags make it hard for the villagers’ gardens to produce, they strangle the animals necessary to households, and they cause disease. No one knows what to do with the bags once they are no longer useful.

One day Isatou gathers up some of the smelly bags and takes them home. She and some other women wash them and, while they are drying on the line, Isatou watches her sister crocheting. She asks her sister to teach her, and then Isatou comes up with an idea. Secretly, she and a few other women get busy evolving the old plastic bags into useful things – until their impact is noticed over a year later and cannot remain a secret.

One Plastic Bag is a story about how Isatou and her friends make a difference in the world through their recycling efforts. It’s a remarkable accomplishment with very positive environmental results.

Elizabeth Zunon illustrated One Plastic Bag by using her skill of collage. Her work is stunning.

Actual photos are included of the women in the story.

One Plastic Bag by Miranda Paul is a story that will help to bring awareness to young readers. One person CAN make a difference.

You can find One Plastic Bag on my BUY THE BOOK page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂 

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Book Review: Fiddles & Spoons: Journey of an Acadian Mouse – by Lila Hope-Simpson

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Book: Fiddles & Spoons: Journey of an Acadian Mouse
Author: Lila Hope-Simpson
Illustrator: Doretta Groenendyk
Publisher: DPG: Dery Publishing Group
Date: 2004
Genre: children's historical fiction; age 5-9, gr K-4
Pages: 32
Price: $17.95
My rating: historical event wonderfully-told for children

This is one of the beautiful books I purchased at the children’s book fair in 2016, although my copy has a different cover, as you see below. Apparently, the image above is the newer edition which includes more illustrations.

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Fiddles & Spoons: Journey of an Acadian Mouse is written by Canadian author Lila Hope-Simpson, who, in fact, lives only a few miles from me. Illustrator Doretta Groenendyk is also a local artist.

First of all, look at this dedication – which seems very suited to the times we are living in – that she wrote in her book:  This book is dedicated to uprooted people from every place and time, whose spirits have proven that after adversity, life goes on.       And sometimes, there is even dancing.

Fiddles & Spoons is a historical fiction, fanciful for the child reader. This story is about a mouse family, the expulsion of the Acadians, and the will to survive.

In the small Acadian village of Grand Pré in Nova Scotia, Canada, life was good. Families worked hard to keep their village functioning and to make a life they could be proud of. The men built sturdy dykes to hold back the powerful tides of the Bay of Fundy, creating very fertile farmland along the coast – and those dykes are still there doing what they were intended to do.

Under the floorboards of the homestead of the hardworking Dubois family lived the Souris mouse family. They feasted on the crumbs that fell down through,  particularly enjoying Saturday nights when everyone danced and played their fiddles and spoons.

One night in 1755 it all changed. Soldiers marched in and separated the men from the women and children. Mama Souris was determined to not leave the Dubois family, so she and her family scurried along near the feet of all the people being forced onto boats. It was a long rugged trip until they finally arrived in a new land and were reunited with their loved ones. From there they had to start over. 

Lila Hope-Simpson told this story of an important historical event in a wonderful way, introducing children – and perhaps adult readers – to the Expulsion of the Acadians, which is a memorable part of local, and far-reaching, history. It is not heavy-handed so as to include lurid details of the atrocities committed against an honest, God-fearing people. On the other hand it is not overly gently told so that the drama cannot be felt and understood. 

Doretta Groenendyk‘s illustrations are colourful, playful, effective. I especially like the scenes of Minas Basin and Cape Blomidon which are very familiar to me.

You can find Fiddles & Spoons: Journey of an Acadian Mouse on my BUY THE BOOK page. 

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂 

Book Review: The Rescuing Day – by Christine Goodnough

The Rescuing Day















Book: The Rescuing Day
Author: Christine Goodnough
Illustrator: Wendy Siemens
Publisher: PrairieView Press
Date: 2015
Genre: children's; Christian; grades 1-3
Pages: 48; paperback
Price: $7.75
My rating: an easy pleasant read for children

The Rescuing Day is a chapter book by Canadian author Christine Goodnough, sketched illustrations by Canadian illustrator Wendy Siemens.

First of all, look at the pretty red cover! Between the red covers are short chapters just right for a young reader.

It’s summertime. The story starts with Mom suggesting to her two young daughters that they get their room cleaned up quickly, their Saturday rule, so that they can be in the strawberry patch early – before it gets too hot in the sun. Megan has trouble being neat like her older sister so in her hurry she shoves everything out of sight. When she gets back she can’t find her favourite doll. This is a major crisis for a little girl, and the author depicts her feelings well.

In each chapter is an adventure for some members of the family. They have a mischievous little puppy, a younger brother who gets into his own trouble, and somebody is in need of rescuing in one way or another. There is an incident where the children are in need and they think to pray about it. It’s nicely done by Christine Goodnough, in a natural, non-preachy way.

Table of Contents:

Chapters:

  1. Trip to the Strawberry Patch
  2. Damien’s Equipment Gets New Paint
  3. Callista is Lost
  4. Callista to the Rescue
  5. The Naughty Student
  6. Megan Rescues Shaggy
  7. The Wasps’ Nest
  8. Shaggy to the Rescue

You can find The Rescuing Day on my BUY THE BOOK page. 

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

13 Weird And Wonderful Facts About Your Favorite Books As A Kid

Today I’m sharing with you something I think is very interesting. I found this list on BuzzFeed, posted by Nora Whelan – BuzzFeed staff, and, in case you haven’t already seen it, I thought you might like to read it, too. As my title indicates, it’s a list of thirteen “weird and wonderful” facts about books you likely read as a child, or have read to children in your life. The only one I knew is number 2 on the list.  

 

1. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was inspired to write The Little Prince while stuck in the desert post-plane crash.

In the mid-1930s, Saint-Exupéry, who had intended to fly from Paris to Saigon, crashed in the Sahara. His experiences while waiting to be rescued, including hallucinations, became fodder for the beloved book.

2. Green Eggs and Ham was the result of a bet.

Publisher Bennett Cerf bet Theodor Seuss Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) that Geisel couldn’t write a book using only 50 words. Geisel did, and won $50, which is a pretty solid per-word rate.

3. The Giving Tree almost wasn’t published, as editors didn’t believe it would resonate with readers of any age.

“The trouble with this ‘Giving Tree’ of yours,” Simon & Schuster editor William Cole told Silverstein, “is that … it’s not a kid’s book — too sad, and it isn’t for adults — too simple.” Needless to say, Cole was wrong.

4. Where the Wild Things Are was almost about horses.

“[My editor Ursula Nordstrom] gave me a contract based on ‘Where the Wild Horses Are,’” author Maurice Sendak said in a 2004 interview. “And then, it turned out after some very few months to her chagrin and anger, I couldn’t draw horses.”

As for the “wild things”? Sendak said he based the creatures on his hairy, lovable relatives.

5. Similarly, Goodnight Moon’s characters were almost humans. Almost.

Turns out, illustrator Clement Hurd was just better at drawing rabbits.

6. H.A. Rey and his wife Margret fled Paris on bicycles with the first manuscript of Curious George in 1940, shortly before the city was taken by Nazis.

The manuscript was nearly seized by an official who suspected the Reys were spies, but upon seeing its content, released it back to the couple.

7. The idea for Charlotte’s Web came from E.B. White’s fascination with the (many!) spiders in his own home.

White brought a spider egg sac from his farm in Maine to his apartment in New York. He then allowed the hatched baby spiders free reign of his pad, until his cleaner complained.

8. Eric Carle got the idea for The Very Hungry Caterpillar from … playing with a hole punch.

“One day I was punching holes with a hole puncher into a stack of paper, and I thought of a bookworm,” Carle has said of the book’s unexpected origins. As such, he originally named the story A Week With Willi the Worm, before his editor suggested a caterpillar instead.

9. The steps taken by Alice in Alice: Through the Looking Glass make up a playable game of chess (though not necessarily an efficient one).

“At two points the White Queen passes up a chance to checkmate and on another occasion she flees from the Red Knight when she could have captured him,” The Annotated Alice author Martin Gardner has said of the moves/plot. “Both oversights, however, are in keeping with her absent-mindedness.”

10. Everything you thought you knew about Madeline’s characters is apparently untrue.

John Bemelmans Marciano, grandson of Madeline creator Ludwig Bemelmans and the author and illustrator of recent titles in the series, says most people have the story all wrong.

“It’s not an orphanage; [Miss Clavel is] not a nun; and Madeline is not French,” Marciano told NPR in 2013. “I used to get almost indignant over it, but these things take on a life of their own and sometimes misperceptions are the stuff of legends.”

11. In the Australian version of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Alexander wants to move to Timbuktu.

Alexander’s seeming belief that bad days don’t happen in Australia is a running gag in the original book. But what about the printing for Australians, who know better than that? Turns out, Timbuktu was the answer.

12. Bridge to Terabithia author Katherine Paterson didn’t realize at first that she’d kind of snatched the kingdom’s name from The Chronicles of Narnia.

“I thought I’d made up ‘Terabithia,’” Paterson says on her website. “I realized when the book was nearly done, that there is an island in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis called ‘Terebinthia.’ I’m sure I borrowed that unconsciously … [and] Lewis got Terebinthia from the Biblical terebinth tree, so it wasn’t original with him either.”

13. In 1929, J.M. Barrie gifted Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children his Peter Pan rights, which have benefited the organization ever since.

The London hospital receives royalties from Peter Pan book and product sales, as well as from performances of the play.

Next week, unless something else comes up, I will give you more information regarding number 4. Do you know of any book facts not listed here?

 Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Book Review: The Princess and the Frogs – by Veronica Bartles

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Book: The Princess and the Frogs
Author: Veronica Bartles
Illustrator: Sara Palacios
Publisher: Balzer + Bray of HarperCollins Publishers
Date: November 15, 2016
Genre: picture book; 4-8 yr, preschool to gr 3 
Pages: 40
Price: $17.99
My rating: such a great example of "girl power"

You know the saying, sometimes you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince. Well, this little princess just wanted the frog.

The Princess and the Frogs, written by Veronica Bartles, is a clever twist on the Princess and the Frog fairy tale. This little princess wanted a pet that would be her best  friend. It was hard for the Royal Pet Handler to find one to match her specifications – one that liked to swim and play and jump all day, one that would match her green dress and at night would sit on her pillow and sing to her. Finally it was decided that a frog would be the perfect pet.

Princess Cassandra was so happy and everything was fantastic until, in her delight, she kissed the frog. Well, you know what happens in fairy tales when the princess kisses the frog. Yep! She had herself a prince. That was NOT what Princess Cassandra wanted! She put the prince to work in her castle and the Royal Pet Handler had to find another frog for her. Alas, the same thing happened! Several times.

This story is beautifully illustrated by Sara Palacios. The little princess either wears her running shoes or goes barefoot and is always in her tiara and eyeglasses. She is a determined and smart little girl, making the Princess and the Frogs a delightfully funny story with an empowered female main character.

You can find The Princess and the Frogs on my BUY THE BOOK page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

 

 

 

Book Review: How Smudge Came – by Nan Gregory

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Book: How Smudge Came
Author: Nan Gregory
Illustrator: Ron Lightburn
Publisher: Red Deer Press
Date: December 12, 1995
Genre: Children's picture book
Pages: 32, hardcover and paperback
Price: may have to find used copies, so price varies from 
less than $1 used, to up to $19.50 in very good condition
My rating: Such a sweet story with fabulous illustrations

 

How Smudge Came is a gorgeous hardcover book I purchased (unused) at the children’s book fair last year. The author wasn’t there, but I met the illustrator again, Ron Lightburn, whose work is fabulous. I reviewed his picture book here.

Look at the cover illustration of How Smudge Came. That immediately drew my attention to this book. The illustrations throughout are soft and beautiful, created with coloured pencils.

While walking home from her work at the hospice one cold rainy day, Cindy finds a little puppy and tucks him into her bag. She knows she’s not allowed pets so she sneaks him into her room at the group home, and the next day she hides him in the large pocket of her cleaning apron so he can stay with her while she works.

Residents at the hospice enjoy the puppy, but things turn sour for Cindy when he is found. The puppy, whom Cindy named Smudge, is taken away from her and given to the SPCA so a good home can be found for him. Cindy is very upset and determined to get him back, so with help finds where they took him. Things don’t go quite the way Cindy had in mind, though.

At first the reader will not pick up on the fact that Cindy is a young adult with Down Syndrome. She has a cleaning job and is able to travel by bus alone, and has the respect and appreciation of the people around her. The way Cindy is portrayed through how she speaks and the illustrations of her, children will understand how she feels. It’s easy to care about Cindy and Smudge.

This story is sad, but hopeful, and is told by Nan Gregory in such a gentle way with soothing illustrations by Ron Lightburn. The ending is very satisfying.

How Smudge Came won Mr. Christie’s Book Award for Best Canadian Children’s Book, won a B.C. Book Prize, was honoured as an “Our Choice” selection of the Canadian Children’s Book Centre, and was on the American Bookseller’s Pick of the Lists.

You can find How Smudge Came on my BUY THE BOOK page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Book Review: A Morning with Grandpa – by Sylvia Lui

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Book: A Morning With Grandpa
Author: Sylvia Lui
Illustrator: Christina Forshay
Publisher: Lee & Low Books 
Date: May 1, 2016
Genre: picture book for 5-8 yr; pre-school - gr 3
Pages: 32
Price: $17.95 - $23.50
My rating: a lovely story about family differences 
and acceptance

 

In talking about A Morning With Grandpa, the first thing to mention is the beautiful cover illustration of a little girl doing tai chi with her grandfather. Next to note is the gold sticker as A Morning With Grandpa won the 2013 New Voices Award!

Sylvia Lui has created a sweet story about a little girl and her grandfather who discover they can’t do exactly the same things so they learn from each other.

Mei Mei, is watching her grandpa do tai chi, so he encourages her to do poses with him. Although she tries, she has so much energy she is more bouncy than calm and her youthful excitement takes her beyond the graceful flow of movement he can do. Mei Mei then offers to teach her grandpa yoga poses which he finds a little difficult to do because he is not as nimble as his granddaughter. Despite their differences, they demonstrate patience and love toward one another and enjoy their time together, modifying their poses to what they can manage. No judgement.

A Morning With Grandpa is a book that makes the reader smile. It is refreshing to see the appreciation and acceptance between such widespread generations. The illustrations by Christina Forshay are realistic and very clearly demonstrate the art of tai chi and yoga – and the difficulty and fun Mei Mei and her grandpa have in doing each other’s preferred exercise. In the back of the book, Sylvia Lui has explanations of the different poses mentioned so that children can try them, too.

You can find A Morning With Grandpa on my BUY THE BOOK page.

Thank you for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂