Shapeshifter By Holly Bennett

March 27, 2011

By author: Holly Bennett
ISBN: 9781554691586
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
Pub Date: April/01/2010
Pages: 256

I’ve always enjoyed the works of author Holly Bennett, and found that this new novel did not disappoint!

Shapeshifter…ummm…the word alone just intrigues the mind….and leads into a world of magic that is reminiscent of Celtic folklore and ancient tales. This is the heartbreaking turbulent story of a girl who  shape shifts into a deer in order to escape the relentless pursuit of a malevolent and yet powerful sorcerer.

Bennett has truly intertwined and captured the lore, mystic and magic of  Ireland and reached far back into the  human psyche where the lines were blurred between mortal and immortality. Sive is one of those ‘immortals’ who not only can ‘shapeshift’ but is gifted with a special unquie talent of ‘Song’.  Her ‘singing’ is not of the ordinary and it  is this gift that brings her to the attention of Far Doirche, a sorcerer who first tries to marry Sive. When this fails he begins an all out attempt to enthrall her to do his bidding. Surrounded by courageous family and friends, Sive manages to escape  for a time by slipping past the boundaries of her world and into the world of mortals. Here she finds temporary refuge by taking a mortal form and living within a protective circle that allows her to even become a mother. Her protective instincts have her sacrificing herself to Far Doirche’s enchantment and thus begins her agonizing psychological torment. Salvation arrives in the quise of her son, but have the anguish and distress of being in the sorcerer’s thrall prove to be to much?

  Bennet’s use of different perspectives in the narration of this well told fantasy tale, makes clever use of Irish lore, culture, geography and language.  What is also useful to readers at the end of the novel ,  is the  pronounciation guide in the names and places used, and another version of the legend of Sive.

Interest Level: strong Junior readers/ Intermediate/ Senior

Genre: Myths and legends; Magic; Fantasy

Who would love this book?  Any reader interested in the folktales, legends  of Ireland. 

Author Weblink:

http://www.hollybennett.net/

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Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff

December 3, 2010

Grade Level: 4 – 7

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Theme:  Coming of Age

This book was recommended to me by a colleague who has suggested it to students who have been in foster homes, or have led transient lives.  It is a story about a girl who has been in and out of foster homes herself, eventually running away from each of them.  Every other chapter describes in great detail a picture which Hollis Woods has drawn that provides a window into her life.

I found this book a little hard to follow to begin with and didn’t really get into it until about three quarters the way through.  It was a short enough book, with easy to follow language.  The characters are colourful and interesting, however the plot didn’t come together quickly enough for my liking!  I, also, might recommend it to students who would be able to connect with the main character.

ISBN: 0-439-57784-5

Pub: Random House 2002


Wild Geese by Carolyn Pignat

November 25, 2010

 

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Red Deer Press; 1 edition (Sep 1 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0889954321
  • ISBN-13: 978-0889954328
  • Wild Geese  is the long anticipated sequel to Carolyn Pignat’s poignant book Greener Grass.

    When I saw this title , I just snapped it up and devoured it in one sitting! It is the story of Irish immigration in the years 1845-47 to Canada,during the “Great Hunger”, where families were fleeing the destitute and poverty-stricken land that called home, Ireland. This is a tale of strength, courage, determination, grit, love,  faith and adventure. Through Kit’s narrative we cannot  help but be drawn into the sufferings and deprivations that family upon family had to endure during these lengthy ocean crossings. Pignat ‘s descriptive prose has skillfully brought to life an almost forgotten a part of Canadian history…and time of great trial, tribulation and opportunity.

    Although this is a sequel to Greener Grass, Wild Geese can stand alone. However by  reading the first book it will allow readers to better understand the harrowing  ordeals of the Irish immigrants.

    Reading ability: Intermediate / Senior level; Grade 7, 8, 9

    Genre: Historical fiction, Canadian

    Who would like this book? This book will appeal to those interested in ancestry, historical fiction, and adventure


    After by Hazel Hutchins

    August 5, 2010

    Fountas and Pinnell Reading Level:  Q    Grade Level:   5-7  

    Genre:  Fantasy/Adventure

      Literature Circle set ( 6 copies) available  at  Classroom Support Centre

    Red Maple Nominee 2010 ,  176 Pages

    ___________________________________

    How do families cope in the aftermath of a tragic shooting?
    Follow Kate and Sam to see how families on both side of violence are impacted.” 
    http://accessola.com/forest2010/redmaple/rm1/about.php

    ____________________________________________________

    Review by Karen

    After is the story of told in alternating  perspectives by two young teens that each have lost a sibling at the same store shooting. Kate writes her feelings to her best friend “Amy”  and it is through her entries we become privy to her accumulating feelings of despair, grief, loneliness and an ever-growing  anger.   “ I am so angry. I am so mad.  … all week the silence in our house is has been so loud its like living completely and utterly alone“.

    Sam thoughts also reveal his perspective on what the sudden act of violence perpetrated by his older brother is costing him and his family. He is fearful of showing his emotions and that ” if he ever lets the anger out, the kind of madness that explodes, he ‘d be like Everett and never be able to stop.” 

    A year later as the anniversary of this tragic event draws near, unbearable silences slowly give way to unexpected friendships. The tension climaxes when the two grieving mothers unexpectedly meet!

     Canadian author, Ms. Hutchins has delivered a very powerful book in After. I highly recommend this for any student from grade 6 to 9!

     Author Website: http://www.hazelhutchins.net/


    The Fallen (and Leviathan) by Thomas E. Sniegoski

    August 5, 2010

    The stark simplicity of the black and white photo and the singular title is what captured my attention as I scanned the book racks looking for another interesting read….a quest for redemption and a mystery… to me this became an irresistable combination and a must have read!  I was NOT to be disappointed!!

    The Fallen 1 and Leviathan are the  first two books in a four- book series by author Thomas Sniegoski.

    Usually I am a little leary of books that have angels in the forefront….but this author truly surprised me !   The angels in these series of four books are like no angels that I had ever read about.   Angel mythology and prophecies…and very potent combination in my opinion!    

    As an onlooker you see how over time human vices such as jealousy, prejudice, indecision, anger impact upon the ‘Fallen Angels’ and this then sets the stage for conflict and possible resolution. 

    Orphaned since birth, Aaron Corbet has finely found a measure of security with the Stanleys and their autistic son Stevie.    Aaron has just turned 18 and is plagued by intense, vivid and often violent dreams — that upon waking leave him disturbed and shaking.  It is the power of these unsettling dreams that have Aaron begin to question  his sanity and he tries to dismiss the heavy foreboding feelings that begin to plague him.  He wants to confide in someone, like Vilma the cute girl in his class, but his fears keep him silent.  He copes by working at his after school job, the  West Lynn Veterinary Hospital and talking to Gabriel, his attention craving yellow retriever. Then two  mysterious strangers approach him, telling him that he has a destiny like no one else…. that he is the chosen one …  the one that was prophesied  millenia ago…that his role will be as a liaison between angels, mortals, and Powers both good and evil ….  it is not a destiny that he wants and he fights to remain a normal teenager! 

     Sniegoski skillfully keeps this wonderful  plot moving by sprinkling great action scenes throughout.  I was really connecting with Aaron and Gabe and definately ‘boooing’ Verchiel, the angel that put himself incharge of hunting Aaron down.  I am very glad that I had the the two-in-one version of the book — and am almost finished with the second two-in-one “ The Fallen 2 : Aerie and Reckoning “!   

    I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants  to read about angels in another light… so to speak!!

    Author Wedsitehttp://www.sniegoski.com/fallen/

    Added Reviews and discussions:http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7171880-the-fallen-2


    Greener Grass by Caroline Pignat

    June 25, 2010

     

    Fountas and Pinnell Reading Level:   R      Grade Level:   5-7    

    Genre:  Historical fiction /Adventure 

      Literature Circle set ( 6 copies) available  at  Classroom Support Centre 

    Red Maple Book Award nominee 2010,  278 pgs.  

    Other recognition and awards:

    Governor General’s Literary Award winner 2009 CLA Children’s Book of the Year Award shortlist, 2009

      

    Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People 2009 finalist 
    Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Awards shortlist, 2010 

    Canadian Children’s Book Centre Our Choice, 2009«Starred Choice 

    Red Maple Book Award nominee 2010 

    ______________________________________________      

    “1847 – Ireland. The potato famine enters its second year, as British landlords raise rents and tumble cottages, leaving Irish families homeless and overcome by hunger and disease. Kit Byrne, a young girl of fourteen, will do everything she can to save her family. But will it cost her soul?” 

    http://carolinepignat.squarespace.com/greener-grass/ 

    Review by Karen 

    I am a lover of historical fiction and was eagerly looking forward to reading this latest book by Canadian author Caroline Pignat. I had thoroughly enjoyed Pignat earlier debut novel Egghead and was interested in how she would handle this genre. 

    The 1840’s in Irish history was a period of unrest turmoil and utter destruction and devastation — devastation to human life, human dignity and the human spirit. Pignat’s novel Greener Grass opens in the second year of the Great Potato Famine — 1847. We become first-hand witnesses to the heartrending struggles of human survival through the eyes of the central character 14 year-old Katherine (Kit) Bryne and the choices she  and her family are faced with.  The author has skilfully woven the horrors and bleakness of the times, with Kit’s courage and herioism , and that makes this is a truly inspirational story. 

    Highly Recommended!!!

    Similiar Books:  Nory Ryan’s song by Patricia Giff; Katie’s Wish by Barbara Hazen; The Grave by James Heneghan 

      

    Author Interview on Greener Grass: 

    http://carolinepignat.squarespace.com/media/ 

    Study Guide (free) : http://www.fitzhenry.ca/Download/guides/GreenerGrass.pdf