Friday, September 30, 2011

The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje

This is a great time of year to explore the new section of the library. The fall releases are quickly making their way onto bestseller lists. Reserve a copy of a newly arrived, or anticipated book, at your local branch.

A new release that has risen to the top of the Maclean’s and the Globe and Mail bestseller lists is Michael Ondaatje’s The Cat’s table. This is the story of a young boy’s three week voyage from his home in Colombo, Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) to England. The 11 year old is travelling alone and is assigned to the lowly "Cat’s Table". There he joins two other boys and an assortment of adults. As the boys roam the ship, they are enthralled by their surroundings, and the odd assortment of characters, including a young deaf girl, a rich industrialist dying of rabies, and a chained prisoner. Unsupervised, they participate in a variety of new, interesting, and often illegal, activities.

This vivid portrayal of life on board a ship has been hailed as one of Ondaatje’s best.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The sweetness of Tears by Nafisa Haji

The Sweetness of Tears is a beautifully written novel by Nafisa Haji, a story that interweaves multiple generational and cultural viewpoints.

The book revolves around Jo March, who comes from a conservative Christian family, but finds herself questioning her faith. During her spiritual struggle, she comes to find out the startling truth about her past, and her history. In order to reconcile with her lost self, she travels to Chicago, Pakistan and Iraq. She learns Urdu and Arabic on the way, so she can bring her family together and find some semblance of peace in her life.

The author transports the reader from the mundane to places like Pakistan and Iraq. The descriptions are so vivid, that one feels transported to the streets of Pakistan, or immersed in the sweltering heat of Iraq's desert.

The way that author Nafisa Haji speaks of both Islam and Christianity in a fair and unbiased light is truly commendable. This book is a powerful reminder of the ties that bind us, the choices that divide us, and the universal joys and tragedies that shape us all.

Preschool Storytime & Apples and Pumpkins by Anne Rockwell

The fall session of preschool storytime is fast approaching. I have been asked at times what makes the library storytime special? Why should I bring my child to the library? There are at least 4 reasons that I can think of quickly. They are:

An example: it is important for adults to model reading, and the easiest, most inexpensive way to do that is by visiting the library.

Responsibility: learn to care for and return borrowed material.

A good habit: Children who develop a habit of visiting the library are more likely to continue this into teen and adult years.

Variety: Not all adults enjoy the same books and neither do children. The library holds a variety of materials to satisfy each child’s unique interests.

One brand new book that children will enjoy this fall is Apples and Pumpkins by Anne Rockwell. In it, the family visits an apple and pumpkin U-Pick farm. They pick a bushel basket full of red shiny apples, and choose the best pumpkin from the pumpkin patch. The entire family delights in their visit to the farm and seeing all there is to see.

This is a book just meant for sharing.

What we saw

This week we remember the events of the day that changed our world. We all remember what we were doing when we heard the news on 9/11.

A new book, What We Saw, captures moments in words, images, and on an accompanying DVD. Much of the material for the book was compiled from the CBS news archives of that day. Each of the contributors describes what he saw on that fateful day, as only gifted wordsmiths can. They include Bryant Gumbel’s telephone conversation with a woman five minutes after the first plane hit, and she describes in horror as the second plane slams into the tower and it becomes clear it was done on purpose. Dan Rather provides the introduction. The contributors write of the chaos and desperation surrounding those fleeing Manhattan amid the smoke, ash, dust, and falling bodies. They write of the brave heroism of emergency workers, police officers, firefighters, and health care workers.

Joe Klein, in his forward, states, “Ten years later, the falling towers seem an almost mystical premonition, the sort of event that our distant ancestors would have put in the same category as comets, floods, or volcanic eruptions. It marked the end of one era and the beginning of another”.