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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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


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/

 


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:


Moon at nine by Deborah Ellis

April 8, 2014

Moon at nine by Deborah Ellis

Moon at nine by Deborah Ellis

ARC: compliments of Pajama Press

: 273 pages; c2014 

From the publisher:

“A riveting novel set in Iran, where sexual orientation can have deadly consequences.

Based on a true story”.

 

Genre: Realistic fiction

Grades : 8, 9 (intermediate)

 

 

It is the stark dramatic cover of Deborah Ellis’ latest book, that captured my attention.

Reading those three simple words, ‘Moon at nine’….seeing the hazel-coloured eyes staring through two strands of barbwire … for me, is a very powerful image. Resisting the urge to flip the book over, I tried to figure out what this story would be about. My musings were not even near to what Ellis had written.

This story is far from being atypical….it is about a fifteen year old Iranian teen named Farrin, who is the daughter of a wealthy family in 1980’s Tehran, set during the Iran and Iraq war known as the ‘Gulf War’.

We see the story of Farrin’s privileged life, unfold through her eyes. Farrin is dissatisfied — almost bored, with her life, attending an all girls school, while evading daily bombings, and becomes less tolerant with her relationship with her mother.

Her facade of discontent comes to a screeching halt with the arrival of a new student Sadira. Sadira’s outgoing, gentle nature (personality) touches something within Farrin. The two girls connect on a level that has Farrin questioning just who she is.   The pull of Sadira’s steadfastness and compassionate caring personality is something that Farrin cannot resist and they are drawn to each other — like moths to a flame. Though they try to suppress this feeling, but to no avail, Farrin and Sadira find that their friendship evolves into a relationship that can only lead to an outcome that neither girl would anticipate.

 

Freedom … a word that is often taken for granted … and the author has given us a glimpse into a world that reads like a part of history, yet it is still a part of the present … for many young women throughout the world.

This is a story, that I am glad, author, Deborah Ellis had the courage to tell, as it was, for the woman who had the courage to tell it.

Great classroom discussions and highly recommended!!


The Rule of 3 by Eric Walters [ a brilliant new Dystopian novel!]

February 24, 2014

RULE-OF-THREE

  The Rule of Three3  by Eric Walters

  published by razorbill/Penguin Canada ; 404p. ; c2014

It was the dramatic boldly coloured cover of Walter’s latest book, The Rule of Three3, that captured and intrigued me from the start.

In no time, I became completely absorbed by this realistic and disturbing premise and by my own simultaneously personal question of, ‘what if ” this situation really occurred?’  Could this be a possible outcome to humanity – a dramatic reaction to a shocking ‘global viral catastrophe’?

This thought alone, made me want to halt my reading. But it was these same disturbing thoughts that compelled me to continue. Though the story feels almost science fiction-like, one only has to think back to recent global weather events that resulted in similar scenarios.

One quickly realizes that the veneer of civility is shed, if one is without all the computerized driven technologies that have become such an integral part of today’s society.

Through the eyes of sixteen year old Adam, we witness the fear of a seemingly local (innocent) power loss, escalate as the days increase without resolution, to an atmosphere of disorder, feuding, vandalism and desperation. As more time elapses, Adam and his family … with the help of a astute neighbour…try to combat the ever violent disorder and chaos surrounding their suburban neighbourhood into something more orderly…a necessity for survival.

Unfortunately what once was the norm, now has to be re-thought , a mentality, that not all can conform to.

Sacrifice and survival become the key, if any shred of what civil end humanity is to be retained.

This is a strong read, that will challenge the reader to think beyond the box!

Truly a  story of  “what ifs”!

Highly recommended!!

For Intermediate and Senior students


Underground Soldier by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch

February 21, 2014

undergroundsoldier framed[1]Underground Soldier is a moving and inspirational companion book to Stolen Child and the award winning, Making Bombs for Hitler.

This is Luka’s story…..his journey …his painful coming of age during a time, when survival was the key. Luka’s brash escape from a slave labour camp, thrusts him into situations where improvisation becomes the fundamental instrument for his survival — alluding German sentries.

This is a very powerful story, and even though the characters of Luka and Martina are fictional, the events experienced by them are based on real and little known events during a very horrific time in World War II. Often those who were escaping the injustices of the Nazi’s, would also find themselves fighting against the Russians at the same time.

Scenes of total injustice, brutality, violence and all the horrors encountered during war and  endured, are skillfully balanced by the author, into a story that shows that courage, perserverance, determination and compassion can have just as strong as an impact on the human psyche and help one to overcome any adversity.

Highly Recommended for students and adults!