Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Daring ladies of Lowell by Kate Alcott

I thoroughly enjoyed Kate Alcott’s book The Dressmaker and when I saw a new book by this author, I knew I had to give it a try.  The Daring Ladies of Lowell is set in a cotton mill in Lowell Massachusetts in 1832.  Alice Barrow has left her home on the farm in search of independence.

Alice is a bright, intelligent young woman who has been taught by her mother to stand up for herself.  She lives in a boarding house with other mill girls and eventually they begin to rely on her to be their voice.  She and another mill girl, the fun-loving Lovey, form a strong friendship.  As she advocates for her friends, she and the mill owner’s son, Samuel Fiske become attracted to each other.  When Lovey is found murdered, and the Fiske family becomes embroiled in the case, their relationship is put to the test.  

This book held so many stories besides Alice’s; like the exploitation of workers, early feminism, dangerous working conditions, and the power of the factory owners over an entire town.  In some ways this is an old story that has been told many times – young girl leaves home, falls in love with a handsome man, but his family doesn’t approve.  What makes this story different is the integrity, strength and deep moral character of the heroine.  

This book is a great choice for summer reading.

Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist

Shauna Niequist’s new book, Bread and wine: A love letter to life around the table with recipes is a book that promises tasty morsels about food and life.  It is a collection of essays about love that is shared with each forkful.  It is funny and inspiring, and revolves around the themes of hospitality, food, friends, family and love.

Food is the language of care.  The meal doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be about taking the time to open our homes to people and spending time together.  Food is the starting point, the thing to hold and handle, the gift we offer to one another.  

With summer gatherings come many shared meals.  This book leaves the reader wanting to follow the author’s advice for these occasions:
“Gather the people you love around the table and feed them with love and honesty and creativity.  Feed them with your hands and the flavours and smells that remind you of home and beauty and the best stories you’ve ever lived.  We come to the table because our hunger brings us there.  We come with a need, with fragility, with an admission of our humanity.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Power Plants by Frankie Flowers

Power plants are what nature gives us to aid in the treatment of our common day to day ailments.  Authors Frankie Flowers and Bryce Wylde have compiled a book Power Plants: simple home remedies you can grow.  All that is needed is a patch of dirt or a pot, some sun and water, and a dose of tender loving care.

This book is filled with beautiful pictures and step by step instructions on planting, growing and harvesting.  The health benefits of each plant is particularly helpful information.  Even those who have no green thumb need not worry; the authors provide basic help before digging in, or simple substitutions from the local health food store.  

By learning the healing power of plants with these home grown remedies, feeling good naturally will literally be just a walk in the garden.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Incredible inventions: poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins

The theme for this year’s Summer Reading Club is “Eureka”, and we are celebrating discovery.  One of the staff recommends a book that documents many “Eureka moments”, Incredible Inventions.  Introduce children to the joys of discovery and poetry, with this collection of 16 poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach.

These pages are filled with short, catchy and fun poems about some of the world’s most important and useful inventions.  The author highlights inventions as diverse as roller coasters, crayons, sipping straws, Velcro and kitty litter.  Can you imagine a world without brushes, or basketball, or band-aids?  Just a couple of poetry examples:

“I’m King of Cling,
my grip won’t slip
until you choose
to rip the strip. ...”


“Edward Lowe was not a loafer.
Edward Lowe was not a quitter.
He saw a need, he worked with speed
to bring the country Kitty Litter.”

The reader will find a new and unique way of looking at each invention.  In the back of the book the author gives the history of the invention, and the inventors (some of them children),  who invented them.