Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Remarkable Creatures by Tracey Chevalier

Our branches look like jungles these days, but staff would be happy to recommend titles to help you through the jungle of adult books.

Kim in our Winkler Branch recommends Remarkable Creatures by Tracey Chevalier. This book, based on real events and real people, is set in the early 1800s in the English seaside town of Lyme Regis. Poor and uneducated Mary Anning, finds a friend and ally in the educated Lady Elizabeth Philpot. Both women have an interest in searching the coast for fossils in the time before there was any understanding of dinosaur existence.

Mary’s discovery of a “fish lizard”, later called the ichthyosaurus, and its subsequent assembly drew scientists and collectors to the area. Although both women contributed a great deal to the finding and understanding of fossils, neither received much pay or recognition for their work.

The fossil discoveries made by these women, which are still in museum collections today, predated Darwin and called into question notions of how the world was formed and how old it was.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Animals of the World from World Book

Libraries are gearing up for the Summer Reading Club, Destination Jungle, and registration begins June 24.
With this in mind I’d like to highlight several new series from World Book, found in the Juvenile Non-fiction section. These series, collectively titled Animals of the World are bright, and colourful and offer a wealth of information on the diversity of animals found on our planet.

With summer reading upon us, the one I chose to highlight is Howlers and Other New World Monkeys. This book answers such questions as “Why do howlers howl?” “Which monkeys are named after monks?” “Are woolly monkeys really woolly?” and many more.

When we think of jungles, we usually think of Africa, but we must remember that much of South and Central America is covered by jungles as well. Taking a few books from the Animals of the World series OFF THE SHELF can be incredibly educational, and provide hours of enjoyment.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

This Hidden Thing by Dora Dueck

This Hidden Thing by Dora Dueck is a story that is told through the eyes of a Mennonite girl, Maria, arriving in Manitoba from Russia in 1927. Her family had been wealthy and comfortable in Russia, but now everything is gone. 3 days after arriving in Canada she is forced by her uncle to become a maid in an English household.

Maria faces many struggles, learning English, learning how to be a servant and accepting her social position, and encountering conflicts between her own values and those of her employers. After 5 years Maria must return to her family to care for her siblings after the death of her mother.

This book has been recommended by Elaine in our Winkler branch. The setting of the book, Winnipeg and Winkler, the descriptions of the landscape, and how the story goes beyond the Mennonite particulars to shed light on the universal and timeless struggles of the human spirit, all make it a great read.

Dora Dueck will be reading from and signing this book at the Winkler Library on June 29 at 7:30, and we look forward to hearing her story.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Various Flavours of Coffee by Anthony Capella

In his 2nd novel, The Various Flavours of Coffee, the author draws you into the rich and decadent world of the late 1890’s Victorian England where merchants were amassing fortunes in the trading of coffees and other exotic imports. With attention to historical accuracy, Anthony Capella describes London during this time as one of have and have-not so vividly that you can almost smell the rot in the streets, the unwashed humanity and the open markets and food stalls.

Robert, the aspiring writer-turned coffee apprentice, is an extravagant dandy who accepts an unusual job offer. Working alongside Emily, his employers’ daughter, he learns about the fine art of roasting, cupping and writing “The Guide” that describes the various flavours of coffee. This seemingly innocent task leads him into dangerous and exciting travels to Africa and back.

Through his eyes, we see how Europeans supported the slave trade and colonization of indigenous people. We also see the suffering of women in London during their struggle to gain the vote. Various Flavours of Coffee is a delicious read but is very graphic and at times disturbing. It is a like a caffeine-induced rush through an era of history that has changed the world as we know it.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

IT’S A JUNGLE IN HERE!

If you’ve visited one of the library’s branches during the past several weeks, it’s quite possible this phrase has come to mind. The libraries are gearing up for the summer reading club “Destination Jungle”. Registration begins June 24.

The book that immediately comes to mind is Rudyard Kipling’s classic The Jungle Book. The library has just purchased new copies of this book. This new publication, illustrated by award winning artist, Robert Ingpen offers the story of Mowgli, and others such as The White Seal, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, Toomai of the elephants, and others. The timeless quality of these stories is evident in the number of times they have been adapted for film. Reading a story as the author intended it, gives it an authenticity not found in other versions.

Despite Kipling’s prose being dated, its lyrical quality, transcends time. It’s social commentary and the themes of honour and courage, make this a wonderful book for reading aloud, or quiet enjoyment.