October 30, 2017

GSEbookCov

The Great and the small  by written and illustrated by Andrea Torrey Balsara

Published by: Common Deer Press

 

This debut story by author Andrea Torrey Balsara, “The Great and the Small“, is a tale unlike anything l have ever read and I was hooked from the start.

The author has crafted a very descriptive, darkly-told suspenseful tale where the reader is taken into a world that is often hidden from humans.

Each chapter begins with an excerpt taken from historical record dealing with the ‘Black death’ which foreshadows the setting of of each chapter. This in turn creates a sense of foreboding within the reader. Atmospheric, detailed black and white illustrations add to intensify this sense of apprehension.

Although for the most part this tale is told from the perspective of Fin, a young disabled rat, whose curiosity often ends with disastrous (dire) results. Yet there is also a parallel storyline. Fin’s zeal in following orders leads into a mishap and an encounter with an ‘ugly two-leg.’ Perceptions are altered for both characters.  The reader is given a glimpse into the beginnings of a strangely unique friendship in which both Fin and the ‘two-leg’ gain a greater understanding of one another.

This experience teaches Fin that being a part of the ‘colony’, blind acceptance and trust can have far-reaching consequences. But will he be able to look deep within himself and do the right thing?

This is not a story for the faint of heart, but it is a tale that will surely have a reader sitting at the edge of their seat and holding their breath until the end!

Recommended for intermediate readers!

Curriculum connections:
History- Medieval; medical research; fear; loss; bullying; courage; acceptance; drawing.

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Two Times a Traitor by Karen Bass

March 2, 2017

traitor-times-two

Two Times a Traitor is the newest endeavor by multi-nominated and celebrated Canadian author, Karen Bass.

Published by Pajama Press and set to be released in May 2017, Two Times a Traitor is a surprising departure from what YA readers have come to expect from this dynamic author.

Laz Berenger  a strong-willed 12 year-old reluctantly finds himself visiting the historic Halifax Citadal with his family. The ever present friction between he and his father explodes while touring the Citadal, and Laz in defiance, takes off on his own. His explorations take him to a section of the Citadel where an unforeseen accident occurs. Laz  suddenly finds himself faced with a knife to his throat and his bravado rapidly dissipates when he realizes that he is no longer in 2017, but has been transported to the historic period of 1745. He finds his loyalty and perseverance tested repeatedly as he tries to earn back his St. Christopher’s Medal and perhaps the key back in time?

Readers will be swept up and away in this riveting richly detailed, middle-grade historical/time travel nail biting adventure, and into the pages of an exciting part of Canadian history!

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!! [for Junior and Intermediate readers!]

five-stars
FIVE STARS!!

#Checkout more Karen Bass at:  http://www.karenbass.ca/ and the Two times a traitor book trailer :

ARC: generously supplied by Pajama Press in exchange for an honest review.

 

 


Bent not Broken by Lotna Schultz Nicholson

February 28, 2017

one-2-one

Bent not Broken by celebrated and multi-nominated author, Lorna Schulz Nicholson is the third book in the acclaimed “One-2-One“series published by Clockwise Press and released this March, 2017. This is a series that focuses on teens in the ‘Best Buddies Program’ at Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School. ‘Here they help each other find and accept things about themselves.’ [back cover of Born with…].

In Bent not Broken, Justin and Madeline are ‘Best Buddies’ and have to deal with their own inner demons. For Madeline, her entire world needs to have the ‘reset button’ re-activated after a traumatic accident. This alone almost seems insurmountable, but having the feeling of her ‘twinness’ also severed, often results in frustration with herself that spills over and unintentionally results in uncontrollable reactions.  At these times  Justin’s quiet influence seems to be the only voice that steadies Maddie. As for Justin,  his personal life is also filled with tragedy and grief. However, both of these best buddies find common ground in an unexpected place that allows each of them to become “like a willow tree who bends in the face of adversity, but is not broken.” Told in alternating perspective, this tale of the human struggle with disappointment, grief, guilt, depression and self-worth. 

At the core it proves to the reader, that no matter what each of us has to endure, sharing the burden often lends each of us to tap and cultivate a hidden strength found within us all.

Schulz Nicholson has written this with such sensitivity and poignancy, that you cannot help but be totally engaged from beginning to end!

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED READ !!!!  

FIVE STARS

Checkout more- Lorna Schulz Nicholson at : http://lornaschultznicholson.com/

 


Myles and the Monster outside ; by Philippa Dowding

September 26, 2015

Miles and the Monster outsideMyles and the Monster outside by Philippa Dowding
Published by Dundurn Press
c2015; pp.154
Series: Weird Stories gone Wrong

Author Philippa Dowding succinctly sets the tone, on page 7, with one sentence, “you should know, before you even start this book, that it’s a little scary” in Myles and the Monster outside, the second book of her new series “Weird Stories gone Wrong”.

Within the short span of 154 pages, a reader is taken on a roller coaster collision of fear, imagination and the unknown.

“Myles and the Monster outside” begins with mundane and monotony as invisible companions that accompany Myles as he and his family embark upon the adventure of leaving all that is familiar behind and beginning anew.

Mist-like fingers, glowing red eyes, a windshield that cracks are all elements that keep a reader gripping the binding of this book with white-knuckled apprehension and at the same time pushing deeply into the back of a chair!

Once again, Dowding has created a story that challenges a reader to seek ‘courage’ in the face of the unknown……no matter what form the unknown takes.

This is truly a tale that borders upon being an urban legend stirred with a splash of truth!

Highly recommended for Grade 3,4,5 !!!!!

Five Stars!!


Eco Warrior by Philip Roy

May 8, 2015

Published by Ronsdale Press, Vancouver , BC: c2015 [ARC generously supplied by Ronsdale] In the seventh book of the awesome series Submarine Outlaw,  Alfred and his first mates are no longer EcoWarrior [book 7] by Philip Roy‘outlaws’ on the seas. Alfred now turns his homemade vessel toward Australia and pursues his dream of helping the environment become reality.  Unfortunately for Alfred, his ‘relaxed’ arrival in Perth is marred by a series of events that find him the centre of unwanted attention by authorities. When he is forced to make a quick escape via the help of a self-styled environmental activist-hippy named Merwin Hughes, the road to becoming an environmentalist is accelerated. Allowing Merwin aboard his submarine leaves Alfred uneasy. However, once the decision is reached, both individuals acknowledge this change in procedure – one with enthusiasm – the other with great reluctance. As the pair now travel toward the Southern Ocean, a stunning appearance and consequent interaction with a blue whale and her calf  leads Alfred to reflect on what he has encountered and witnessed during his many ocean travels. Caught up in the  pandemonium and violence of illegal whaling activities, Alfred soon comes to realize that every action counts. This seventh book in Philip Roy’s series adroitly explains environmental activism in a manner that it is comprehensible to readers at any level! Although Alfred’s past voyages are all filled with adventure, new perspectives and understanding, there is a subtle shift in this novel. Readers of Eco Warrior will be swept up in the innocence and trust exhibited by the blue whale and her calf.  They will also experience similar feelings of horror, anguish and desperation as did Alfred and Merwin, as the scenes of conflict unfold between the Sea Shepherd and the whaling ship. The uncertain plight of the oceans is stark – but Roy leaves the candle of hope lit within Alfred and the reader! Highly Recommended !! Grade 6,7,8,9

Student reaction to Eco Warrior:

Kevin “ I wanted to go right out and follow in Alfred’s footsteps and make a difference for the better!!”

Below is a bulletin board inspired by Eco Warrior!

World Oceans Day every day!

 

Series: Submarine Outlaw : Book 7 Subjects: Environmental Activism; Whales; Endangered species; Ocean life; Adventure; Environmental Protection; Ocean life; World Oceans day; Greenpeace; Sea Shepherd Genres: Action-Adventure; Whales; Submarines; Oceans United Nations World Oceans Day Video:


Random Acts by Valerie Sherrard

February 18, 2015

 

Random-Acts-cover-194x300Publisher: Puffin Canada; 264 p. c.2015

Random Acts is the newest novel by Canadian author Valerie Sherrard.  The title brings to mind that one has to step out of a normal routine or comfort zone and attempt a random act of kindness, and I was delighted that this topic would be the focus of a middle-grade narrative!

However the reader will quickly learn that ‘random acts’ takes on an entirely different meaning within the parameters of this story. Teenagers, Zoey, Jenna and ‘Bean’  have been BFF’s for a number of years. It is during an afternoon of overindulgence in a ‘pizza-feast’ that the simple idea of preforming random acts of kindness takes hold, but then evolves into a story filled with slap-stick humour  and misdeeds, reminiscent of skits from the “I love Lucy” show!

Ms Sherrard has eloquently and completely captured the angst and self appreciating humour often demonstrated by teens with the voice of Zoey. As the story progresses, the relationships of these three friends is in a constant state of flux, ever changing and growing in self awareness.  Told primarily from Zoey’s perspective, her interaction with her parents plays a pivotal part in the telling of this narrative.

This delightfully well written tale will definitely have the reader smiling, laughing out loud and groaning in empathy with all the ‘random acts’ performed by our three amusing artless teens!

Highly recommended for grade 6,7,8 !!!

Genre: Realistic fiction; Humour

Themes: Pay it forward; Friendship; Family; Relationships; Teenagers

 


Connecting Dots by Sharon Jennings

February 18, 2015

Connecting Dots Publisher: Second Story Press; Series: ‘Gutsy Girl’ ; 183p.:c2015

Sharon Jennings’ long anticipated companion to the multi-nominated book Home Free has finally been launched!

Connecting Dots is the heart wrenching story of feisty Cassandra Jovanovich, Leanne Mets’ ‘bosom’ friend, first introduced in ‘Home Free’.

We are given a small hint that our central character  has a very direct and forthright attitude, as she remarks on her friend’s constant inquisitiveness about her life. The italicized word “my” in the sentence “so I am sitting at my desk in my room” is a subtle indicator for the reader that this tiny word will become important in the narrative of Cassie’s life.

Society in the late ’50’s and early 60’s often dictated the social norms of the day. It is for this reason that every aspect of family life comes under close scrutiny when the circumstances of Cassie’s birth are established. At age 5 with the untimely passing of her Grandmother, we see how Cassie’s sliver of childhood innocence rapidly diminishes as she is passed through the ranks of various relatives.

Over time she is looked upon as a liability. Facing ongoing criticism, her confusion and mistrust merge into a mask of stubborn defiance. Cassie’s constant ‘tough -act’ demeanor translates further when participating in a school play her ‘acting skills’ win her positive praise. Amazed at how she feels on stage, she vows to explore this revelation and strives to hone it into a new found career.  Cassie faces the ultimate test and when she freezes it is Lee’s genuine open-minded belief in her that comes to the rescue. It is at this awkward moment that the reader is given a glimpse of the real Cassie beneath the cultivated tenacious exterior.

I found this tale of a harrowing childhood to be a sensitive coming of age portrayal. Ms Jennings’ has written Cassie’s story with great perceptiveness and understanding, which is communicated to the reader who in turn cannot help but become an unshakable champion of Cassandra Jovanovich!

Spirited, inquisitive and quirky, “almost twelve-year old” Cassandra Jovanovich, exhibits such a fearlessness that despite all odds, the reader cannot help but admire, applaud and ….be…..amazed!

Highly Recommended!!!     Be prepared “to be amazed at what will emerge!”

Reading Ability: Junior : Intermediate (Grade 6,7,8)

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Themes: Abuse; Acceptance; Grief; Courage; Coming of Age; Acting, Actors; Friendship; Social bias;

Second Story Press: http://secondstorypress.ca/books/175-home-free

Author Interviews : http://www.openbooktoronto.com/atsintziras/blog/interview_with_sharon_Jennings

 

Thank you to SECOND STORY Press for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.