Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Concussions and Our Kids by Robert Cantu M. D.

Concussions in sport, especially among young athletes, has become one of the most important sports stories of the past decade.   Concussions and Our Kids by Robert Cantu, M.D. is a new, well-researched, well-reviewed book on the subject of how to protect young athletes and keep sports safe.  Dr. Cantu’s list of credentials is very long, and impressive.  He is considered a leading expert on athletic brain trauma, and a pioneer in the study of the link between concussions and progressive brain disease. 

This book offers practical information for parents and coaches on what head trauma is, why children are vulnerable, and what can be done to make youth sports safer.  Dr. Cantu explores how concussions happen in collision and non-collision sports.  He looks at Post-Concussion Syndrome and Second Impact Syndrome.  Dr. Cantu dispells many of the myths surrounding head trauma.  Finally he offers readers practical advise for keep kids safe; like tests parents can give at home, an explanation of what “rest” really means, an explanation of why helmets are no guarantee of safety, and much more.

This is an important book for all who care about young athletes and their well-being.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Miss Dorothy and her bookmobile by Gloria Houston

Family Literacy Day occurs this week, and every branch has activities planned, so check the website for the date and time of the celebration in your community.  This is a time when my thoughts always turn to the importance of books and libraries in our lives.  When I was growing up, I attended a small rural school in Northern Ontario.  The school didn’t have a library, but the school division had a bookmobile.  I loved that bookmobile, it was always warm and smelled like books are supposed to smell.  

You may wonder what has me so nostalgic.  Today I’m recommending the book Miss Dorothy and her bookmobile.  This beautiful children’s book is based on the true story of Dorothy Thomas.  When Dorothy graduated from library school, she idealistically dreamed of starting a fine brick library in her new community.  There was no money for the building, so instead the community purchased a bookmobile, and Dorothy became the librarian.  Over the years, although she still dreamed of the fine brick library, there was nothing that kept Dorothy from delivering books to the entire community.  

This is a lovely book with a heart-warming story, and I just say thanks to everyone in our communities who has fostered a love of books and reading.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Will Sparrow's Road by Karen Cushman

We attend Medieval dinners or Renaissance fairs and think of it as a simple time of courtly manners.  In actual fact they were a brutal time and place for the poor, and especially for children.  Karen Cushman has brought that world to life in the new young reader's novel, Will Sparrow's Road.  Cushman is best known for her Newberry medal winning novel, The Midwife's Apprentice.  This is her first attempt at writing a book in which a boy is the main character.  In the note at the back of the book, she states that is because in this setting, a girl’s chances of survival were slim.

Will Sparrow is a boy alone in the world.  He has almost no memory of his mother, and has been sold by his father for ale.  He feels himself unloved and unloveable.  He hits the road, without shoes, and soon finds himself part of a group of "oddities and prodigies" travelling around the country from fair to fair.  Will grows in stature and character as he finds a family among these outcasts, and finally stops running.

For any young fan of history, this is a great choice.  Or, with chapters averaging 10 pages, it is easily shared by a family over several days.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Twelve Drummers Drumming by C. C. Benison

When is a Christmas book, not a Christmas book?  When it is a mystery by C. C. Benison, the author of the Father Tom Christmas mystery novels.  The second in the series, Eleven Pipers Piping has just been released, but today, I'm going to focus on the debut novel, Twelve Drummers Drumming, which first appeared about a year ago.

In this novel, Father Tom Christmas and his daughter Miranda relocate to the small village of Thornford Regis.  He is recently widowed following the brutal murder of his wife.  He is anxious to begin a new life with his daughter in the small village, away from the scene of his wife's murder.  The tranquility of the village is shattered when the bludgeoned body of a young woman is found inside a Japanese o-daiko drum.  To Father Tom's consternation, there is no shortage of suspects for the murder and he soon learns that life is not as idyllic as first appears.  Through it all though an interesting group of characters emerge in a caring community.

The thought that came to mind when I read this novel was Agatha Christie meets the 21st century.  I'm looking forward to the further adventures of Father Tom Christmas, and catching up with the wonderful characters in Thornford Regis.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Puss in Boots by Jerry Pinkney

Preserving the integrity of the great fairy tales in this age of animated versions can sometimes be a challenge.  When a new, carefully rendered and extensively researched, illustrated version by Jerry Pinkney come along, we add it to the collection.  Such was the case recently with his new book, Puss in Boots. 

Pinkney’s version of the original fairy tale by Charles Perrault remains true to the original story written in 1697.  Puss in Boots’ master, the youngest son of an impoverished miller, frets about making his way in life.  He puts his trust in the cat.  Puss in Boots gains the attention and favour of the king.  Later, when the king and his daughter are travelling through the countryside, the cat uses trickery to introduce his master to king and sets about procuring a castle and a great kingdom for him.  The king decrees that Puss in Boots’ master should marry his daughter.  The cat is also given a royal title, and his life becomes very comfortable.

The old fairy tales served a useful purpose as moral tales centuries ago.  Whether or not a reader wants to delve deeply into its meaning is up to the individual.  But these tales have stood the test of time, and it’s great to see new, fresh, retellings such as this one.