Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Flight 1-2-3 by Maria van Lieshout

This year’s theme for the summer reading club is Go! We are focusing on travel – whether in actuality or in our imaginations.  A new children’s book that has recently been added to the collection fits in very nicely with the theme.  Flight 1-2-3 by Maria van Lieshout is like a guidebook for airports.   The airport can be a big, frightening place and this is an excellent book for anyone planning to travel with children.

The book has minimal text, and bright simple illustrations that really lend themselves to being conversation-starters for children and adults.  All the routine airport signs and procedures are covered, like check-ins, escalators, elevators, trash cans for all those things that cannot be in a carry-on, security officers, food vendors, washrooms, gates and departure lounges.  It covers a little about being on the aircraft, and arrivals. 

These days, many people find the process of actually travelling in an airplane is no fun.  Spending a few minutes ahead of time preparing children for what they can expect in the airport will greatly ease some of their trepidation and will make that aspect of the journey more tolerable.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Rain by Linda Ashman

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  Does that include rain?  Is rain something to scowl at, or something to enjoy?

Rain! by Linda Ashman is a lovely book that shows us how a sunny disposition can brighten up the most dreary day.  The story is told in contrasting viewpoints: an older gentleman who is terribly unhappy with the rain, having to wear galoshes, and an overcoat, navigate puddles, and tolerate people.  All around him - any encounter with other people leaves them in a bad mood as well.  On the other side is a young boy who sees the rain as a chance to wear his frog hat and his rubber boots, and splash in puddles.  Everywhere he goes, he brightens the day.  They eventually meet in a coffee shop and the young boy’s kindness helps the old man through his bad mood, and they end up enjoying each other’s company.  It’s a charming story about the power of kindness and a smile.

My apologies of course to Morden and Miami listeners who had more than enough rain this spring.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Last train to Zona Verde by Paul Theroux

A travel book in which the author really gets to the heart of life in a particular part of the planet doesn’t come along every day.  The Last Train to Zona Verde by Paul Theroux is such a book.  Paul Theroux first visited Africa as a twenty-two year old Peace Corps volunteer.  This is the story of his return some fifty years later to explore a part of Africa that is seldom seen by visitors.

The book description gives us an insight into its content.  “Theroux encounters a world increasingly removed from both the itineraries of tourists and the hopes of postcolonial independence movements. Leaving the Cape Town townships, traversing the Namibian bush, passing the browsing cattle of the great sunbaked heartland of the savanna, Theroux crosses “the Red Line” into a different Africa: “the improvised, slapped-together Africa of tumbled fences and cooking fires, of mud and thatch,” of heat and poverty, and of roadblocks, mobs, and anarchy.”  Eventually Theroux shares with the reader the end of his journey in a chapter entitled “What am I doing here?”

Anyone looking for a summer read that’s out of the ordinary might like to try this book.  It is available in several branches.

Scaredy Squirrel goes camping by Melanie Watt

Every kid I know just loves Scaredy Squirrel, that little critter who bravely overcomes his worst fears.  Melanie Watt has given us a new Scaredy Squirrel book just in time for summer, Scaredy Squirrel goes camping.

Scaredy Squirrel has decided to enjoy the great outdoors from the comfort of his home in the tree.  He plans to watch a new series on television, The Joy of Camping.  However, Scaredy has a problem: His new television needs to be plugged in and the only outlet is a long way away.  Scaredy must summon his courage and venture across a campground to plug it in.  Scaredy’s motto is, “A prepared camper is a happy camper!”, and as usual he takes stock of all the hazards on the way, like mosquitoes, skunks, quicksand, water, the three bears, penguins and zippers. 

As usual, all goes well on Scaredy’s journey until he comes face-to-face with some unforeseen challenge.  True to form, Scaredy overcomes his fear and has a really good time.  In the process, he teaches us a valuable lesson, “the wilderness isn’t meant to be seen from afar, it’s meant to be enjoyed up close!”