Monday, July 27, 2009

The sweetness at the bottom of the pie by Alan Bradley

I am drawn to books with off the wall titles, and that’s the reason I chose Alan Bradley’s Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie as my favourite book of the summer. This book has spent several months on the Maclean’s bestseller list, and its easy to understand why. This is a book that friends will recommend to each other and its popularity will continue to grow.

10 year old Flavia De Luce lives in a household with an aloof father, 2 annoying older sisters, an inept housekeeper and a loyal handyman. Flavia is a chemistry whiz and has an acute understanding of poisons. When mysterious events begin to happen: Like a dead bird appearing on the doorstep with a postage stamp in its beak, and a mysterious late-night visitor argues with her father before turning up dead in the cucumber patch, Flavia turns to chemistry - and her curiosity and charm- to investigate.

Everything about this novel is perfect. The characters, setting, narrative, and plot work together to make this novel truly enjoyable.

If you pick up this book, you’ll want to get a cool drink, and settle down in your favourite lawn chair, because you won’t want to put it down until it’s done.

Antiques Roadshow Collectables

There is an old saying “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. This is obvious to any fans of the Antiques Roadshow. How often do we hear stories of items that were thrown away by someone, rescued by another, and turned out to be extremely valuable.

A new book in the library is the Antiques Roadshow Collectables: The Insider’s Guide to What’s Hot and What’s Not. This book offers useful information for the novice, and the serious collector. The text and photographs pertaining to each area of collecting include an introductory text and a note regarding its desirability. “What to look out for”, and “what’s not hot” are listed. “Key facts” describe the most important periods in the development of the subject. The Core collectibles section offers those items around which a collection may be built. Ask the expert boxes provide answers to frequently asked questions. An estimation of the value of each subject is also offered.

This is garage sale season and who knows, armed with the knowledge in this book, you may find an honest to goodness treasure, or, perhaps this book will keep you from throwing one out.

This water goes north by Dennis Weidemann

Al, a few weeks ago you interviewed Dennis Weidemann who wrote a book “This Water goes North”, and Dennis did a presentation in the Altona Library.

In 1979 Dennis and 3 friends canoed down the Red River from Iowa, across Lake Winnipeg, and into the Hayes River, all the way to York Factory on Hudson Bay. The 4 young men set out with borrowed canoes, poor equipment, little experience and little knowledge of what to expect. At that point we did not yet have a copy of the book, but after reading it, I can truly say I really enjoyed it, and savoured every page.

Throughout much of the book , one thought kept popping into my mind … What were they thinking… But that is what makes up much of the charm of this book. Weidemann does a great job of telling the reader what was is in the head and the heart of a young adventurer. One particularly poignant statement comes as they enter Canada.

Upon leaving Norway House, Weidemann writes about how unexpectedly difficult it was to leave the small communities where they had made friendships.

I recently came across a quote by the great adventurer, Sir Edmund Hilary, and although he was writing about his home, New Zealand, the same can be said of Canada “In my journeying through the wild and lovely places of the earth, I sometimes forget how lovely my own land is.”

Wiedemann reminds us all of how beautiful and interesting our country is, and that adventure comes to those who welcome it.