The Land beyond the Wall : an immigration story

February 17, 2018

the land beyond the wallThe Land beyond the wall: an immigration story     by Veronika Martenova Charles

Published by : Nimbus Publishing, Halifax c2017 [32p]

This is the tender story of a young girl named Emma. As a consequence of her parents actions, she is orphaned and sent to live with her aunt. Living in a practical world, Emma’s dreams of becoming an artist by adding ‘colour’ to her otherwise ‘gray’ life is her wish to go to art school. However, in the world of her Aunt, dreams cannot exist along side a world of  common sense. This does not deter Emma…and against great odds she escapes these confines and arrives in a new land. Here she is welcomed with kindness and compassion. It is here, that her greatest desire … to add color…allows her to ‘find her voice’!

The vibrant and expressive illustrations lend an added sensitivity to the story that allows the reader to become empathic with Emma. Though this story has a magical-like thread woven through it, I think that the ‘wall’ and Emma’s journey is symbolic of many of the obstacles that many families and children may endure while escaping their past and seeking a way to follow their dreams.

Highly Recommended for Primary and Junior students! [grades 2-6]

five-stars

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Counting on Katherine : how Katherine Johnson saved Apollo 13

February 16, 2018

290FEC1F-5694-43D6-BB3E-8FCFEE1D2760Counting on Katherine : how Katherine Johnson saved Apollo 13  by Helaine Becker / illustrated by:                   Dow Phumiruk  [ARC]

Published by: Christy Ottaviano Books [Henry Holt & Co.] : c2018

Junior Library Guild Selection

As the information from the back of this book states, “Katherine Johnson is the extraordinary mathematician who calculated the flight path for NASA’s first Apollo moon landing”, but this exciting new story is so much more than a book just full of information! Author, Becker and illustrator Phumiruk are a wonderful team! Beautiful artwork  provides the perfect accompaniment  to the succinct sentences and together they paint a picture of an inquisitive, insatiable person whose boundless curiousity about the world her  was never quenched.

Counting on Katherine” is a brilliant read. Ms. Becker has skillfully woven a biographical narrative that is totally approachable to the reader. It is an empowering story for all girls, underlining that dreams can come true….to dream big and to keep chasing your dream. Persistence, courage and determination such as shown by Katherine Johnson allowed her to attain a goal that opened the door not only for women of colour, but for all women.

Thank you for gifting young readers with empowerment!

Highly recommended for all elementary school and public libraries as a ‘sophisticated picture book!
five-stars

Also a movie tie-in: “Hidden Figures”


Don’t tell the Enemy

February 10, 2018

EnemyDon’t tell the Enemy by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch

Published by Scholastic Canada; 184p. c2018 [paperback]

This is the latest release by powerhouse historical fiction author, Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch. Though this is slotted as a middle grade story, the power of this read lends itself to being read by readers of any age group or category. Skrypuch has expertly captured  the torment and emotions as “war rages around Krystia’s town, where her uncle and cousin have already died at the hands of the Soviet and Nazi invaders”.  The rawness and brutality of war is not tempered. With an uncompromising honesty, Skrypuch reveals to the reader, the merciless barbaric demeanor of occupying Nazi forces and the affects upon the inhabitants of the Ukrainian town.  However the savagery of these times is offset throughout the book, as the reader gets glimpses of humanity in unexpected places.

As the author’s note reveal’s this is the inspiring true story of Kateryna Sikorska and her daughter Krystia and it is a story that rings with deep emotion, extraordinary courage, determination, and the strength of the human spirit.

Highly Recommended for Junior and Intermediate students!

five-stars


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. [Junior Library Guild Selection]

Published by Pajama Press ; c 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.

 

 


“Loyalist to a fault” by Evan Munday

September 19, 2015

Loyalist to a faultPublished by ECW press

[ARC generously supplied by Jenna Illies]
301p. c2015

The colourful ghoulish cover is just a teaser to what a reader can expect when they dive into the latest installment in Evan Munday’s nominated series Dead Kid Detective Agency!

If a reader is the least bit of a detective and observant, the title Loyalist to a Fault, is a clever play on an well known saying ‘loyal to a fault’ which provides a clue to the new, intriguing story involving the intrepid October Schwartz and a group of distinctly ‘spirited’ teen shades!

A story of unique friendships intertwined with decidedly weirdly poignant situations of midnight rendezvous in the local library, grave-digging in February, a pirate, a burning ship, intrigue and an interjection of horror-filled scenes …… captured my attention with such a force, that you can not help but become an unintentional invisible member of the Dead Kid Agency!

The helpful list of characters and appendix of passing references at the end of this third book in the series, allows the reader to delve deeper into the “important cultural history” that is alluded to throughout the narrative.

Mr. Munday adroitly crafts a tale that is a genuine unique blend of perspectives, voice, intrigue-filled social situations, aspects of the macabre laced with snippets of historical facts. Along with these components, and an opening paragraph that states how “many mysteries open with a heinous crime in progress” and in almost the next breath, reveals that….October, commits such an act, will totally ‘kidnap’ readers from the start!!!

Highly Recommended!!
for Grades 6,7,8!!!   Five Stars!

Genres: Mystery; Supernatural; Adventure; Humour


Tin Soldier by Sigmund Brouwer

September 12, 2014

Tin SoldierTin Soldier  by Sigmund Brouwer

248p., c2014 [Seven Sequel Series ]

ARC generously supplied by D. Sutherland, Orca

Publisher:  Orca Book Publisher, Vancouver, BC

 

Tin Soldier is Sigmund Brouwer’s exciting sequel to his nominated Seven Series book, Devil’s Pass.

We first encounter Jim Webb in Devil’s Pass and now the mystery only deepens surrounding his grandfather’s perplexing past.

A chance discovery at the ‘family’ cabin in Northern Ontario, sets the scene for each of the cousins. An accidental tug dislodging an old notebook filled with baffling objects and a paper printed with the faded words “You are a traitor. You deserve to die!” spurs all cousins into action.

With guitar, passport and American money in hand, Webb begins his journey searching into his Grandfather’s mysterious exploits.

Brouwer’s narrative is an action-packed mystery, teeming with historical detail that references the Vietnam War and dog tags, the Civil Rights Movement, classic movies and songs, but does not hamper the storyline.

In some respects,  this venture through a volatile part of American history mirrors Webb’s own inner turmoil.

Though Tin Soldier is part of the Seven Sequel series, this exciting read can easily stand alone and will engage readers of both genders!

Recommended for Intermediate and Senior Grades

 

 


Blood Brothers in Louisbourg by Philip Roy

March 7, 2014

blood-brothers  Blood brothers in Louisbourg  by Philip Roy
Published by Cape Breton University Press; c2012
137 p,

  Genre: Canadian historical fiction ; First Nations history

Alternating chapters gives the reader a dual perspective to two time lines that are on an intersecting course  unknown to the central characters — Jacques and Two-feathers.
During the reign of King Louis XV, a young French educated teen, suddenly finds himself ripped from the fabric of all that is familiar. He sets sail on a ship bound to New France into the unknown, with a father he hardly knows.
Arriving at Fortress Louisbourg, young Jacques dons an ill-fitting uniform and is thrust into the harsh, unforgiving military world that his father idolizes.
At a similar moment in time, in the untamed wilderness surrounding the Fortress, a young Mi’kmaq warrior called Two-feathers is on his own quest to find the father he never met.

This is the story of two young men – “both seeking to understand their father” unknowingly linked by the bonds of their heritage.

Mr. Roy has created a moving historical tale that touches on a part of Canada’s past that is often overlooked — observations from both inhabitants – those ‘discovering’ Canada and from the First Nations.

It is an engaging story that can be used as a read aloud as it ties in with the school curriculum and can spark many debates and /or discussions within the classroom!

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Grade Level: Grade 7 -9
Interest level: Grade 6-9

Highly recommended!