Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Sundog moment by Susan Baldacci

The last name, Baldacci, is familiar to many; however David isn’t the only author in the family.  Susan Baldacci, David’s sister, has written a novel, A sundog moment.  Susan Baldacci was diagnosed with MS more than 20 years ago, and in this novel, she writes about finding ones way through difficulty.

The main character in the novel, Elizabeth, leads what seems like a charmed life, until she receives the devastating diagnosis that she has MS.  Elizabeth at first hides her symptoms from everyone, but eventually joins a support group.  One Sunday she hears a sermon in which the pastor speaks of sundogs.  Conditions must be just right for sundogs to appear.  Many believe that when sundogs appear in the sky, the weather is going to change shortly.  Kind of like a warning - and a promise.  Enjoy the day because change is on the way.

Most people know someone in their lives who have been impacted by an unexpected neuromuscular disease, and this past winter, we experienced an unprecedented number of sundogs.  Do not expect A Sundog Moment to be an easy gentle read, but one that is full human faults.  In the end, however, you will find this novel gives hope.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Mr. Pip by Lloyd Jones

This week’s recommendation comes from Kim, the branch librarian in Morden.  She recommends the book Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones.  The book is set on an island in the South Pacific during a civil war.  The plot of the story follows 13 year old Matilda from the time she is introduced to the book Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.

Her teacher Mr. Watts, or ‘Pop Eye’ as the children call him, is the only white man left on the island.  Mr. Watts cleans the ruined schoolroom, and the main activity becomes the reading of Great Expectations.  Soon the whole village becomes embroiled in the story, and the far-off place called London, becomes more real than their own.  The tensions between Matilda and her strict mother who is suspicious of reading anything other than the Bible, complicated by the pressures of the situation and the mounting danger to all their lives, are wound up with the story of Mr. Pip and his great expectations.

The power of imagination and the stories that we all carry within us, how they affect our lives, and how we make sense of the world, are all conveyed in a story and manner that is simple, elegant and powerful.

Alienated by Melissa Landers

There are many fantasy readers out there, and some of the staff enjoy this genre too.  Jess in our Winkler branch is recommending the Young Adult title, Alienated by Melissa Landers.

Exchange programs are common in schools everywhere, and that’s what this book is about – except this is an alien exchange program. The alien planet sends three students to live on Earth for a while and then the next school year Earth is supposed to send three students to the alien planet. As you might imagine not everyone on earth is too thrilled. Most are convinced that the aliens are up to no good.

One of the appeals of the book is that while it is a fantasy book, it was grounded in reality. The aliens have more advanced technology than humans but it was believable: the aliens don’t have death rays, just better spaceships and gadgets.  The aliens are nervous and unsure of the humans, and unfamiliar with the climate and colors of earth. The humans however are mainly in a state of confusion, over the alien’s motives. The aliens can help cure cancer, but they will want something in return and no one knows what that will be.

The Big Green Book of the Big Blue Sea by Helaine Becker

May 3 – 10 is TD Canadian Children’s Book Week.  To celebrate this week, the S C R L is hosting Canadian author, Helaine Becker.  The library collection contains a number of her books and we are very honoured to host her this week.  

My personal favourite Helaine Becker book is A Porcupine in a Pine Tree.  It is a Canadian 12 Days of Christmas.  This is a truly Canadian take on the old Christmas carol and one I turn to each year for a few laughs.  I featured it in this column a couple of years ago.

Something that’s a little less season-specific is The Big Green Book of the Big Blue Sea.  This is an imaginative book combining science, the environment, biography, and history, and is entertaining, enlightening, and engaging.  A Kirkus review sums it up this way,

"In simple terms but with scientific vocabulary, Becker introduces such diverse topics as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, density, desalination, sea-floor spreading, global warming, tsunamis, oil spills, osmosis, camouflage and overfishing. Almost every spread provides readers with something to do that will help the ocean. .. Fascinating facts appear throughout and are sure to amaze."

We can all do our part for healthier oceans, and this book shows us how.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Perfect Ghost by Linda Barnes

Spring is slowly finding its way into our lives, and new books are finding their way onto library shelves.  Many pleasant surprises await.  Linda in our Winkler Branch discovered The Perfect Ghost by Linda Barnes and thoroughly enjoyed it.  

In this novel, Em Moore’s  world wasn’t all that stable to begin with, and now it’s falling completely apart.  Teddy, her mentor and co-writer, has been killed in a car crash. If the celebrity biography they were working on is going to be finished, Em will have to overcome her almost pathological shyness and take on the publishing company, Teddy’s hostile widow, and the famous subject of their book, director Malcolm Garrett.  Em slowly discovers she is more capable of coping than she had expected. Then she begins to hear the rumors that friendly and charming Malcolm Garrett may have some devastating secrets to hide, and that the police are investigating Teddy’s death.   Although she is shaken, confused, and frightened, Em is not going to let this go, no matter the cost.

The book is full of intriguing characters who may (or may not) have an axe to grind, and the plot takes a twist whenever you think you might have an idea of what is going on.  In the end, no one, not even Em, knows what a shy mousy girl is capable of when her back is against the wall.