Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cool Water by Dianne Warren

Recently Dianne Warren’s novel, Cool Water, won the 2010 Governor General’s award for fiction. When I picked it up and read the description, it didn’t strike me at first, but since it was an award winner, I thought I’d give it a try. Am I ever glad I did! I loved this book, and it is one of my favourites of 2010.

The book takes place over a 24 hour period and chronicles a day in the life of the community of Juliet Saskatchewan. The people of the town and its surroundings go about their daily lives. What is different about this particular day, is that a stray horse has found its way onto the farm of Lee Torgeson. Lee decides to take the horse for a midnight ride which then extends to a 100 mile trek throughout the next day. This ride is the thread that ties the characters of the novel together. Lee, the rider, was a foundling, left on the doorstep of a childless couple who loved and raised him as their own. Other characters include the kindly banker who despite having a position of power in the community has no power at all; the stressed out couple with six children wrestling with the weight of imminent farm foreclosure, and others.

The characters in this novel are ordinary, yet complex. They are the people we see about us each day - each with a story to tell of love and loss, guilt, desire, loneliness, and strength.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Porcupine in a Pine Tree by Helaine Becker, Illustrated by Werner Zimmermann

Today I’m focusing on Christmas books for children. A brand new Christmas picture book by Helaine Becker and illustrated by Werner Zimmermann, is A Porcupine in a pine tree.

This book is sure to become a holiday classic in many households. It is so wonderfully Canadian. This book contains every Canadian stereotype one can think of including bear cubs, loons, Mounties, caribou, beaver, moose, Maple Leaf hockey players and Stanley Cups. There is loads of action as the “gifts” romp across the pages; especially as the Maple Leafs try to grab the elusive Stanley Cups.

Another favourite from their Snowmen series is Snowmen at Christmas by Caralyn Buehner and illustrated by Mark Buehner. It answers the question “How do snowmen celebrate Christmas?” It seems they slip away and enjoy a Christmas celebration of their own. The artwork in this book is absolutely gorgeous. Each snowman exudes warmth, personality, and charm, and half the fun is looking for the small details on each page.

Take the time this holiday to cuddle up with a child you love and share a wonderful Christmas story.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Visit from St. Nicholas by Clement C. Moore, illustrated by Kim Fernandes

The children’s poem A Visit from St. Nicholas is a favourite of many – but it is more commonly known by the title “Twas the night before Christmas”. Clement C. Moore wrote the poem for his children and did not at first acknowledge ownership. Fortunately it was published, and millions have enjoyed it ever since.

If you type “Night before Christmas” into the library’s search, you would find 9 different entries of the poem in various media formats. My personal favourite is titled “A visit from St. Nicholas” and is illustrated by Kim Fernandes. Fernandes’ vibrant three-dimensional illustrations leap off the page. The illustrations seem lovingly rendered - and any child or adult will pore over the tiniest of details.

If you are interested, check out the history of this poem and discover how it has influenced the development of modern Christmas celebrations. Whatever your favourite version of the poem is, I hope you’ll find time to enjoy it this Christmas.