Category Archives: Reviews & Interviews

Book Review: Painted Skies – by Carolyn Mallory

painted-skies

 

 

 

 

 

Book: Painted Skies  
Author: Carolyn Mallory
Illustrator: Amei Zhao
Publisher: Inhabit Media Inc                              
Date: June 23, 2015    
Genre: Picture book; K-2; 5-7 yrs                               
Pages: hardcover, 36 pages
Price: $16.95                
My rating: Simply & artfully told, exquisitely illustrated

Last year I had the privilege of meeting Carolyn Mallory at a children’s book fair; of course I bought her book.  Look at that title and beautiful cover!

Painted Skies tells the story of a young girl’s introduction to one of Nature’s most spectacular events, the Northern Lights. One night, as two friends are playing in the Arctic snow, the sky begins changing colour. When the colours swirl and move closer in ribbons across the sky, Leslie, who recently moved to the far North, starts getting nervous. Her new friend, Oolipika, reassures her and demonstrates what to do to keep them safe from the playful spirits. When Oolipika tells her the Inuit legend and that it’s about the Northern Lights, Leslie’s fear turns to awe.  

Painted Skies by Carolyn Mallory is a beautiful book with gorgeous illustrations by Amei Zhao. The story is told and illustrated in a way that is interesting and educational at the same time, making it ideal in both an elementary classroom and in a child’s collection.

At the back of the book is an explanation of the Northern Lights (aurora borealis), what causes them and when they occur. I’ve felt the awe of seeing the Northern Lights a few times where I live, and would love to see them up close – the way they are depicted in this story. 

You can find Painted Skies on my BUY THE BOOK page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Book Review: As Far As I Remember – by Michael Bawtree

as-far-as-i-remember-coming-of-age-in-post-war-englandBook: As Far as I Remember: coming 
of age in post-war England

Author: Michael Bawtree

Publisher: Like No Other Press

Date: 2014 in England; 
2015 in Canada 
Genre: Memoir
Pages: 408

Price: $24.95 (CD)

My rating: very interesting, honest, and funny in all the 
right places

I was very pleased to meet the author, Michael Bawtree, at his book signing in April 2015. I hadn’t known about it until I entered the shop for a children’s book, but immediately bought a copy of As Far As I Remember and waited to speak with the author to have him personalize my copy.

I enjoyed this book, although it took me awhile to read all the way through due to my limited reading time when I purchased it. Mr. Bawtree wrote with revealing honesty about his childhood in England where he was born – his years in boarding schools, overcoming shyness, establishing himself as a successful student, a temporary rather nomadic life due to harsh economic times for his family, and many interesting events that occurred. Some incidents he tells about are downright hilarious, the funniest for me being an unfortunate situation that involved his proper English mother in a garden entanglement. There are many things he describes with just the right balance of humour.

This book is the first of two volumes about his fascinating life – the first covering his early years in England, the second volume will cover his life and career in Canada as an actor, playwright and director.

Although Michael Bawtree grew up in boarding schools, he had the opportunity to meet professors and dukes and many other important people, including world-famous C. S. Lewis and others who sometimes stayed at the inn his parents bought and operated. I hope you can read the back cover of his book shown here once you click on the image below to enlarge it.

as-far-as-i-remember-back-cover

His interest in literature, drama and music eventually led him to Canada where he embarked on a career in theatre and the arts all across the country, eventually bringing him to Nova Scotia where he now resides. As Far As I Remember, though, is everything leading up to then and is told in a natural and inviting way. It’s well worth the time to read this fascinating story. I’m looking forward to volume two.

 You can find As Far As I Remember: coming of age in post-war England on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Book Review: Rocket Man – by Jan L. Coates

Rocket ManBook: Rocket Man
Author: Jan L. Coates
Publisher: Red Deer Press
Date: May 2, 2014
Genre: Middle grade (age 9-11; gr 4-6)
Pages: 120, paperback
Price: $12.95
My rating: many youngsters will relate

Rocket Man is a story I’m sure both male and female MG readers will really enjoy. Jan Coates‘ books are always appealing, and this one covers more than one topic to which many readers will relate.

Her main character is an eighth grader named Bob who is awkward around girls, bullied by a couple of guys at school and on his basketball team, feels he has to live up to his older brother’s example as an athlete. All that, and his dad, who also was a basketball legend, is fighting cancer. Bob considers himself to be Mr. Invisible.

The reader gets to like Bob right away. He practices hard to try to move up to the Division 1 basketball team, but things just don’t seem to go his way until one of his bullies gets into trouble. Bob’s brother starts paying more attention to him, impressed by his earnest efforts, and comes up with a more positive nickname for him – Rocket Man. You have to read the book to find out the reasons behind that.

Bob also puts a lot of work into an idea for a major fundraiser because of his dad having cancer, and that has exciting results.

Jan Coates has created a story of hope. She has touched on family dynamics and the emotions of a young boy in the midst of the struggles going on in his life, in a way that makes the reader care.  If your pre-teen boy (or girl) is a reluctant reader, give him/her a copy of this book – even if he/she is not into basketball. Don’t let the cover fool you, it’s not really a book about basketball but the main character finds a way to make the sport work for him. Rocket Man is a good read.

You can find Rocket Man on my BUY THE BOOK page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Book Review: Great Falls – by Steve Watkins

Great FallsTitle: Great Falls
Author: Steve Watkins
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Date: April 12, 2016
Genre: young adult (ages 14 & up)
Pages: 256
Price: $17.99 US; $24 CD
My rating: a gripping, realistic story

I received this book from Library Thing in exchange for my honest review.

This seemed a story quite different from what I usually read, and the topic was of interest to me.  It says on the cover “One brother home from war. The other desperate to save him. A river that will change them forever. ” – and it had my attention immediately.  This book  was not a disappointment.

Shane is his older brother’s biggest fan, but Jeremy has done three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and is not the same as he used to be. He’s troubled, very troubled, and can’t even function around his wife and two very young children. He’s drinking too much and seems to be paranoid and nervous all the time. Jeremy has PTSD and needs help.

Jeremy manages to show up at Shane’s high school football game, but when Shane suffers a concussion resulting in his making a very bad play, Jeremy offers to take him away for a night to escape the humiliation. Shane agrees, hoping it will also be a turning point for Jeremy, that he can convince him to get the help he desperately needs. That’s where the adventure really begins, and things go from bad to worse, with Shane never giving up on his brother. 

Great Falls is a novel that is gripping, raw at times, and that takes the reader on a worthwhile journey. Even though there is some violence and strong language in it, one must remember this realistic story is about a war veteran who suffered horrific things that just won’t leave his mind. Once you start reading you may not want to set it aside until you finish the book. I didn’t, honestly!

You can find Great Falls on my BUY THE BOOK page. 

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

A reminder, and another giveaway coming!

The day is almost over, and with it goes your chance to enter the draw for a copy of Darlene Foster‘s bilingual children’s book Cerdito a juicio  — Pig on Trial. This book is as good for adults learning Spanish as it is for children to enjoy.

Perhaps you know someone who would like this book. You can enter the draw for them, or direct them here.

Tonight at 9:00 EST a winner will be determined (thanks to an automatic random name picker), so check your email. I will make the announcement here tomorrow morning.

The next day, August 2, I will be offering my eighth 2016 monthly giveaway!

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!

Book Review: Cerdito a juicio; comment by author Darlene Foster; & book giveaway!

Cerdito a juicioBook: Cerdito a juicio 
(translation: Pig on trial)
Author: Darlene Foster
Publisher: Ediciones Camelot SRL
Date: March 24, 2015
Genre: children's
Pages: 30; paperback
Price:  $12.00
My rating: enjoyable bilingual medieval tale

Poor Fredrick! He was innocently minding his own business when soldiers showed up and arrested him, and ten-year-old Sebastian could do nothing about it. When Father came home, immediately the decision was made to go and sort out the misunderstanding. He took Sebastian with him, and what transpires is not quite as easy a rescue as expected. Fredrick was slated to be executed, and  Fredrick is the family’s pet pig!

Imagine medieval times, bizarre accusations, a pig on trial and the efforts to rescue him – as told by a ten-year-old boy. Now you have an interesting story.  Plus it’s in two languages – English and Spanish.

When I asked author Darlene Foster if there was anything she wanted to tell me about the story or the writing of it, here is what she said:

“I got the idea for the story a few years ago when I learned that animals were put on trial and sometimes executed in medieval times. I thought that children might find that interesting. Then, I met someone who, when he was a child, had a pet pig called Frederick, and I loved that name for a pig. As often happens, I couldn’t sleep one night, so I got up and scribbled down the first draft of the story. When I moved to Spain, I was introduced to a publisher here. He offered to translate the story into Spanish so we could offer a bi-lingual book to children (and adults) who wanted to learn either language. I am pleased with how the book turned out and will be doing readings at four outlets in Spain this summer.”

Congratulations, Darlene! 🙂  This is a wonderful book. 

Here’s an inside view to show you how it’s laid out in two languages:

Cerdito a juicio.2Now, to my readers located anywhere in the world I am offering one copy of Cerdito a juicio. If you want to put your name in for your chance to win this book, all you have to do is leave a comment about anything mentioned in this post. Easy peasy. 

You have until July 31 at 10 PM AST, that’s 9 PM Eastern, to get your name in. Don’t put it off! I will use an automated random name picker to select one winner. The next day, August 1, I will make the announcement of who won  Darlene Foster’s Cerdito a juicio.

You can find Cerdito a juicio on my BUY THE BOOK page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Book Launch May 7; Jan L. Coates does it again!

Today I want to let you know about an exciting book launch taking place tomorrow, here in Nova Scotia. When I was at the Children’s book fair last month I got to purchase a copy of this fun book – Sky Pig by Jan Coates –  directly from the author, and tomorrow it is officially being set free into all the world.

CONGRATULATIONS, JAN!

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The story is fabulous, and look at the illustrations by Suzanne Del Rizzo — they are made from clay! Impressive work.

This is such a wonderful children’s book by prolific author Jan L. Coates. I know if you could be here you would enjoy meeting her. You can send her a message HERE on her website to encourage her, too.  

In case you can’t make the journey and wish you could, you can pre-order a copy of Sky Pig HERE at Amazon.com or purchase HERE at Amazon.ca. It’s also available HERE on Chapters Indigo.

If Jan’s name seems familiar it might be because I interviewed her here, and I have reviewed two of her books here and here.  She is a talented, award-winning author.

Please pass this information along to your friends, neighbours, contacts, … even those people you’re not sure you like much. They and the little ones in their lives can all enjoy Jan’s writing.

And maybe I’ll see you at the launch!

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂