Sunday, September 02, 2007

100. Doctor Fischer of Geneva or the Bomb Party by Graham Greene

ISBN 0 14 00.5588 6 - Penguin, 1980

Alfred Jones is a translator for a Swiss Chocolate company in Vevey. In his fifties, Jones marries Anna-Luise, daughter of infamous millionaire Doctor Fischer who made is fortune by inventing Dentophil Bouquet, a toothpaste.
Fischer is reviled and feared by all, including his "Toads" - an odd assortment of greedy, wealthy people that attend his appalling, degrading dinners.
Is Jones corruptible? How will he exact his revenge? Greene keeps us guessing until the final scene.

99. Prairie Willow by Maxine Trottier

ISBN 0-7737-3067-2 - Stoddart Kids, 1998

A tale that spans three generations of settlement on the Canadian Prairie and centres around the planting of a symbolic weeping willow tree.

Friday, August 31, 2007

98. Whitethorn Wood by Maeve Binchy

ISBN 1-55278-602-1 - McArthur & Company, 2006Compelling story about a well dedicated to St Ann that is said to have spiritual properties. Set in the small town of Rossmore, outside of Dublin, Ireland, Whitethorn Woods is told from the points of view of more than a dozen characters - from the local priest to a young woman in prison for murdering her rival. The prospect of a new road threatens the well and divides the towns folk. Maeve Binchy at her best.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

97. My Home Bay by Anne Laurel Carter

ISBN 0-88995-284-1 - Red Deer Press, 2003
Gwyn's family move across Canada from Vancouver, BC to Mahone Bay, NS. It's a big adjustment and a bit of a culture shock for her at first but eventually, with the fulfillment of three promises her parents made to her, Gwyn starts to feel at home.

96. Salmon Forest by David Suzuki and Sarah Ellis

ISBN 1-55054-937-5 - GreyStone Books, 2003
Set in Canada's Pacific Rainforest, this book about the forest salmon explains the food chain and how the survival of each species of animal and plant is interconnected in this ecosystem. Ties Grade 4 Science strand about Habitats and Social Studies unit on Regions of Canada.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

95. One is Canada by Maxine Trottier

ISBN 0-00-224556-6 - HarperCollins, 1999

Not your average counting book (5 Great Lakes, 8 lines in the first verse of O Canada). I'll be basing the introduction to Canada's provinces & regions Social Studies unit for my Grade 4s on One is Canada.

94. Camping by Nancy Hundal

ISBN 1-55041-668-5 - Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2002

A beautifully illustrated poetically written book about a family that experiences a holiday different from the theme park, fancy hotel and shopping mall vacations they have become accustomed to.

93. East Sussex Events by David Arscott

ISBN 1-86077-251-X - Phillimore & Co Ltd, 2003

Full of fascinating contemporary photographs, Arscott's book is divided into chapters like: Fires, Crime & Violence, Weather and Celebrations & Special Occasions. Most of the events selected for this volume occurred in the cities & large towns of Sussex - Brighton, Eastbourne, Hastings & Lewes. Given their relatively large and dense populations, the human and economic costs of events such as floods and bombings were greater there than they would have been in rural areas of the county.

92. Building Bridges by Kathy Furgang

ISBN 1-4108-0404-6 - Benchmark Education, 2004

Shows how engineers design and build beam, arch, movable, suspension and cable-stayed bridges. Uses famous bridges as examples. The "Be a Bridge Builder" feature gives simple instructions for building models of each type of bridge.

91. Action: Defence by Jo Windsor

ISBN 1-86944-527-9 - Heinemann, 2005

Explains the various defence strategies used by animals: camouflage, flight, threat, bluff, physical armour and co-operation.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

90. Prairie Dogs - Social Animals by Jo Windsor

ISBN 1869445120 - Heinemann, 2005
Interesting parallels to human social behaviour can be made to the habits of the prairie dog.

89. Monkeys, Diverse Animals by Greg Pyers

ISBN 1869445066 - Heinemann, 2002

Highlights the diversity of monkey species with examples from both new and old world groups.

88. Myths and Mysteries of Washington by L.E.Bragg

ISBN 0-7627-3427-2 - The Globe Pequot Press, 2005
An interesting collection of mysteries that occurred in Washington state that ranges from a skyjacking in the 1970s to the accidental discovery of a skull over 9000 years old. Many tales are linked to the regions gold prospecting past. Several relate people's encounters with the paranormal or unexplained phenomenon. I was intrigued by, "The World Famous Lobotomy" and the claims by surgeon Dr Walter Freeman than he performed such an operation on famed actress Frances Farmer.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

87. Dead Man's Mirror by Agatha Christie

ISBN 0-425-10435-4 - Dodd Mead, 1931

Four short mystery stories featuring Hercule Poirot: Dead Man's Mirror, The Incredible Theft,

Murder in the Mews, and Triangle at Rhodes. Christie provides a snapshot of the political and social scence in 1930s England. The roles of women, and Poirot's attitude towards them, are particularly interesting in this pre-World War II world.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

86. Everybody's Normal Till You Get to Know Them by John Ortberg

ISBN 0 310 25084 6 - Zondervan, 2003

There are three sections to Ortberg's book about building Christian community: Part 1 - "Normal: There's no such thing, dear"; Part 2 - How to get close without getting hurt and; Part 3 - The secret of strong relationships.
Ortberg examines the issues of conflict and forgiveness using anecdotes, quotes from theologians and scripture. Conflict is "normal", how we usually handle it is the real problem. He explains how forgiveness, forgetting and reconciliation are separate exercises.

85. Jan Karon's Mitford Cookbook & Kitchen Reader edited by Martha McIntosh

ISBN 0670032395 - Penguin, 2004

Throughout Jan Karon's Mitford series, one gets the sense that both she and main character Father Tim Kavanaugh have a deep appreciation for good food. This volume is much more than a southern cookbook, it is chock full of quotes from the novels and tips on food preparation and cooking.
So far, we've sampled Louella's Cornbread which hubby described as, "a poem" and Puny's Squash Casserole which was equally tasty.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

84. The Aliens Have Landed at Our School by Kenn Nesbitt

ISBN 0 88166 502 9 - Meadowbrook Press, 2001

Humourously illustrated by Margeaux Lucas, this collection of Kenn Nesbitt poems for kids is certain to amuse readers of all ages. I like the way Nesbitt has fun with words and turns everyday situations, like going to the doctor or eating lunch, into wacky adventures. Some of my particular favourites are: "The Aliens Have Landed!", "Don't Bring Camels in the Classroom", and "Don't Rat on a Mouse". I plan to use several poems as shared reading lessons.

83. On the Same Page:shared reading beyond the primary grades by Janet Allen

ISBN 1571103325 - Stenhouse Publishers, 2002

A teaching resource that includes theoretical and practical information about shared reading in the Junior grades. Allen's book covers topics related to shared reading like: word study/vocabulary, writing, text book reading, cross-curricular connections and assessment. The many black line masters for graphic organizers provided and the lists of recommended books are very helpful.

Monday, August 13, 2007

82. Blue Ridge Parkway: The story behind the scenery by Margaret Rose Rives

ISBN 0 916122816 - KC Publications Inc, 2004
Beautifully illustrated with varied photographs, this book outlines the flora, fauna, landscape and history of settlement along the 469 miles (755 km) of the Blue Ridge Parkway. A southern portion of the Appalachian Mountains,the Blue Ridge extends from Pennsylvania to Georgia. The Parkway links Shenandoah National Park's Skyline Drive with the Great Smoky Mountains and winds its way through Virginia & North Carolina to Tennessee.

81. Colour Scheme by Ngaio Marsh

ISBN0 00 651238 - HarperCollins, 1943

Colour plays an important role in unravelling the clues to solve a rather gruesome murder, det against the backdrop of the second world war and the geothermal hot springs of New Zealand's North Island. Marsh's passion for Shakespeare is personified in the character of Geoffrey Gaunt, a celebrated and tempermental actor. Insight into the "white" New Zealander's opinions of and interactions with the native Maori seems dated but was probably close to the mark at the time of writing.

Friday, August 03, 2007

80. The Mitford Snowmen: A Christmas Story by Jan Karon

ISBN 0670030198 - Penguin, 2001
Heavy winter snow inspires an impromptu snowman contest on Mitford's Main Street. Living up to the town's motto, "Mitford takes care of its own", Mayor Esther Cunningham comes up with a plan that makes everyone a winner.

79. Light From Heaven by Jan Karon

ISBN 0739458930 - Penguin, 2005

The Kavanagh's are "farm sitting" at Meadowbrook for the year and Father Tim faces many new challenges as vicar of Holy Trinity Church, located in a remote part of the mountains. The church had been closed for many years but not deconsecrated. We meet a host of new characters: The "Flower Sisters" ; Agnes Merton and her son Clarence who have lovingly been maintaining Holy Trinity; Jubal Adderholt a reclusive squirrel hunter; Dovey Luster who has a mysterious illness and her brother Donny who bears enormous responsibility at a young age.

78. In This Mountain by Jan Karon

ISBN 0670031046 - Penguin, 2002

Cynthia's success as an author is putting a strain on her marriage to the now retired Father Tim. Changing gears to a slower pace of life is not as easy as some may think. Our identity and sense of self-worth can be tied to our "day jobs" and when we stop, something has to fill the void. This stressful situation has dire consequences on Father Tim's health and a tragic accident puts him on the brink.

Friday, July 20, 2007

77. A Common Life: The Wedding Story by Jan Karon

ISBN 0670894370 - Penguin, 2001
This sixth book in the Mitford Series is chronologically out of sync. It relates the events of Father Tim and Cynthia's wedding from his proposal to their honeymoon, although not much is said about their wedding reception.
I have always found people's "how we met" stories touching and here many of Miftord's colourful characters reminisce about past and present love. Many also express their true feelings towards Father Tim, Cynthia and the institution of marriage.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

76. A New Song by Jan Karon

ISBN 0140270590 - Penguin, 1999
Father Tim is "supplying" at St John's in the Grove on the island of Whitecap. When he hears about the trouble facing his former parishioners back in Mitford, it's difficult for him not to rush to the rescue. But time and time again, circumstances prevent them from returning home.
We are introduced to two intriguing new characters: Helene Pringle, a piano teacher, who has rented the Kavanagh's Mitford home and Morris Love the brilliant organist who has become a hermit due to his physical disabilities.
Tim wonders whether Cynthia has become too attached to the 3 year old boy they're caring for while his mother recovers from the debilitation depression she suffers after her husband leaves her for another woman.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

75. Out to Canaan by Jan Karon

Reading Jan Karon's Mitford Series is like good Christian Fellowship. Whether folks in the fictional North Carolina town encounter tragedy or joy they face it with prayer and scripture. Father Tim often reflects on words from favourite hymns or wisdom from Christian theologans like Oswald Chambers Patrick Henry Reardon.
One criticism of the series is that it does not show diversity. There are a few "ethnic" characters: African-American Louella Baxter Marshall; Italians Anna & Tony Nocelli, and Angelo, Leonardo, and Roberto Francesca; Hélène Pringle who has a French background and Ben Isaac Berman who is Jewish. Economic diversity is shown - from Homeless Hobbes to the very wealthy Edith Mallory. How diverse are small towns in North Carolina? In a week or so I'll find out for myself.

Friday, July 13, 2007

74. These High, Green Hills by Jan Karon

ISBN 0140257934 - Penguin, 1996
The storyline of Father Tim and Cynthia jumps from his proposal to her, on his birthday, at the end of "A Light in the Window", to them being married at the beginning of "These High, Green Hills". It's hard to get a sense of how much time has lapsed between the two novels and there is very little description of the wedding, which is disappointing.
We are introduced to several engaging new characters: young Lacey Turner needs rescuing from abusive father, Scott Murphy hired as chaplain for Hope House and Dooley Barlowe's "lost" mother Pauline and brother "Poobaw".
Father Tim has a "life changing" experience when he and Cynthia get lost in a cave on a camping trip. He recalls a line from a Theodore Roethke poem: In a dark time, the eye begins to see.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

73. A Light in the Window by Jan Karon

ISBN 0-14-025454-4 - Penguin, 1995
Miss Sadie Baxter and Edith Mallory are two of Mitford's wealthiest women. The similarity ends there. Miss Sadie, an elderly, frail spinster, lets her kindness and generosity shine again and again in this second book in the Mitford series. Recently widowed, chain smoking Edith Mallory attempts to use her money to manipulate folks ito getting her own way. A rough ride is in store for Father Tim as she sets her sites on him.
Father Tim is in for further turbulence when his neighbour and sweetheart Cynthia Coppersmith goes to New York for an extended stay and his cousin Meg Patrick arrives from Ireland.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

72. At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon

ISBN 014 02.5448 X - Penguin, 1994

Originally published in Jan Karon's local newspaper, The Blowing Rocket, as a series of stories about Episcopal (Anglican) priest Father Tim Kavanaugh, this first volume introduces the reader to many lovable characters in the fictional town of Mitford, North Carolina.
By the end of the book the 60 year old bachelor has a dog the size of a Buick, a beguiling new neighbour and scrappy, freckle-faced nine year old "mountain boy" in his life.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

71. Blue Shoes and Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith

ISBN 13: 978-0-676-97624-3 - Random House, 2006
When Phuti Radiphuti asks his fiance Mma Makutsi if she is a feminist she replies, " Of course I am....These days most ladies are feminists. Did you not know that?" This question was prompted by a radio program on which Phuti heard a "feminist" talks about men being, "swept aside". As it turns out, he had nothing to worry about. But it made me wonder; is feminism dead? or are most women feminists today.
This 7th book in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series offers insight into the different ways that men and women view relationships, marriage and the world around them.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

70. The Wounded Deer: Fourteen poems after Frida Kahlo by Pascale Petit

ISBN 1-902382-75-7 - Smith/Doorstop Books, 2005
Pascale Petit assumes the perspective of Frida Kahlo and uses Kahlo's voice in fourteen poems each written about a significant painting.
It was interesting to read Petit's poetry after reading Kettenmann's biography of Kahlo which includes many of the paintings that inspired the poems. I purchased both of these books last October at the Lewes Live Literature Festival in England, after attending Petit's presentation.
"Pascale Petit was born in Paris, grew up in France and Wales and lives in London. In 2004 the Poetry Book Society and Arts Council named her as one of the Next Generation Poets. She has published three full-length poetry collections. Her last two, The Zoo Father (Seren, 2001) and The Huntress (Seren, 2005), were both shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize and were both Books of the Year in the Times Literary Supplement."

69. Kahlo by Andrea Kettenmann

ISBN 3-8228-5983-4 - Taschen, 2003
Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) is probably best known for her exotic looking self portraits frequently in traditional Mexican dress with braided hair, like this one on the book's cover. This is because more than half of her works were self-portraits. When asked why this was the case, Kahlo replied, " I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best."
Her tempestuous marriage to muralist Diego Rivera and ill health due to a traumatic bus accident and polio contracted in childhood have lead Kettenmann to subtitle the book Pain and Passion .

Monday, June 25, 2007

68. Clutch of Constables by Ngaio Marsh

ISBN 0-00-651259-3 - HarperCollins, 1968
Once again, Troy Alleyn is 'in situ' when a crime takes place. This time, a gang of international crooks is involved in forgery, robbery and murder. But which one of the river cruise boat Zodiac's passengers is the notorious ringleader nicknamed the 'Jampot'?
As is frequently the case in her mystery novels, Ngaio Marsh displays her interest and expertise in the art world.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

67. A Busy Woman's Guide to Prayer:forget the guilt and find the gift by Cheri Fuller

ISBN 1-59145-321-6 - Integrity, 2005

Keele Street Christian Church's women's group has been using this book
as a study guide over the past few months.
It's not one of those books you read once and put back on the shelf.
There are many practical ideas to nurture your relationship with God and improve your prayer life.

66. Final Curtain by Ngaio Marsh

ISBN 0-00-651241-0 - Harper Collins, 1947

The Ancred family make it impossible for painter Agatha Troy Alleyn, (CDI Roderick Alleyn's wife) to refuse the commission of portrait of patriarch and Shakespearean actor Sir Henry Ancred, Bart for his 70th birthday. There is much "drama" at Ancreton Manor which largely revolves around the family's distaste for Sir Henry's fiance Miss Sonia Orrincourt.
If Araidne Oliver was Agatha Christie in her own novels, Troy Alleyn was Ngaio Marsh living vicariously.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

65. The Villa of Reduced Circumstances by Alexander McCall Smith

ISBN 0-676-97681-6 - Random House, 2004
In this final book of the trilogy, von Igelfeld spends four months in at Cambridge University where he believes the country to be populated by eccentrics and becomes convinced that the British have no sense of humour.
When he goes to Colombia to accept an academic award, von Igelfeld gets involved in a military coup with bizarre consequences.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

64. The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs by Alexander McCall Smith

ISBN 0-676-9780-8 - Random House, 2003

von Igelfeld's rivalry with fellow academic Unterholzer & his friendship with colleague Prinzel are heightened in this second book of the trilogy.
He lectures on a Mediterranean cruise and travels to Arkansas, Siena & Rome where he encounters the Duke of Johannesburg, the Patriarch of Alexandria and the Pope .

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

63. Portuguese Irregular Verbs by Alexander McCall Smith

ISBN 0-676-97679-4 - Random House, 2003

Professor Dr Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld, is an exceptionally tall German professor of philology (an older term for linguistics, and especially for the branch of linguistic study devoted to comparative and historical research into the development of languages).
In this first novel of the trilogy, The 2½ Pillars Of Wisdom von Igelfeld, a cross between Frasier Crane & Inspector Clouseau, travels to Ireland, Goa and Venice.

Monday, May 28, 2007

62. Dead Water by Ngaio Marsh

ISBN 0-00-616465-X - William Collins & Sons, 1964

When Wally Trehern's warts are "miraculously" cured by the cascading waters of a natural spring, hundreds of visitors flock to the Cornish village of Portcarrow seeking similar results.
Agatha Christie is the undeniable queen of the classic whodunit, complex plots being her forte. In Ngaio Marsh's Roderick Alleyn mysteries, characters and the foibles of human behaviour take centre stage. Spinster shop owner Elspeth Cost and fresh-faced teacher Jenny Williams, visiting from New Zealand, are immediately recognizable and sympathetic.

61. Cautionary Tales for Children by Hilaire Belloc

Rediscovered and illustrated by Edward Gorey
ISBN 0-15-100715-2 - Harcourt Inc., 2002

Whimsical yet macabre rhymes that urge the reader to heed the warnings and obey the rules given by one's elders or else face dire consequences. Charmingly illustrated with Gorey's classic line drawings.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

60. In the Company of Cheerful Ladies by Alexander McCall Smith

ISBN 0-349-11742-x - Abacus, 2004
While following the silver Mercedes driven by apprentice Charlie's woman friend, Precious Ramotswe knocks a man off his bicycle with her tiny white van. The injured party eventually becomes quite an asset to both the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency and Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors. Mma Makutsi attends dancing class in the hopes of finding companionship.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

59. The Full Cupboard of Life by Alexander McCall Smith

ISBN 0-9544075-0-4 - Polygon, 2003
Mma Potokwani, matron of the orphan farm, plays a prominent role in this fifth book in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. Detective Precious Ramotswe takes a case in which she has to find out whether a wealthy woman's four suitors are after her money or genuinely wish to marry her because they are in love. Mma Ramotswe finds out that people will ultimately make up their own minds whether or not to take the advice they have asked for.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

58. The Kalahari Typing School for Men by Alexander McCall Smith

ISBN 0 349 11704 7 - Abacus, 2005

Mma Makutsi, assistant detective, becomes an entrepreneur when she opens the Kalahari Typing School for men. The No 1 Ladies' Detective agency faces competition when Cephas Buthelezi sets up shop in Gabarone. 'Ex-CID. Ex-New York. Ex-cellent' reads the sign outside the Satisfaction Guaranteed Detective Agency. A man attacked by ostrich rustlers reviews his life and asks Mma Ramotswe to help him right the wrongs he committed as a young man.

57. Morality for Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith

ISBN-10: 0349117004 - Abacus, 2003
Cases include: a strange boy that seems to have been raised by lions, a government man who believes his sister-in-law is trying to poison his brother and a beauty pageant organizer who questions the morality of his contestants.

Monday, May 07, 2007

56.Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith

ISBN 0-349-11665-2 - Abacus, 2000

Mma Ramwotse solves many cases for her diverse clientel. She also becomes engaged to Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni, Botswana's No. 1 mechanic.
Her secretary, Mma Makutsi gets promoted to assistant detective and takes on a case of her own.

Friday, May 04, 2007

55. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

Mma Precious Ramotswe who lives in Gaborone, a small town in Botswana, describes herself as, "a traditionally-built African woman". When her father passes away he leaves her, his only child, enough money to buy a house and start up a business. Instead of opening a shop, Mma Ramotswe decides to start a detective agency. She's got all the qualities of an excellent detective: resourcefulness, wisdom, courage, compassion and above all she's nosey.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

54. The White Witch of Rosehall by Herbert G. de Lisser

ISBN 0 519-19904-6 - Ernest Benn Limited, 1929

Annie Palmer is petite, enchantingly beautiful, wealthy woman. She is also a cruel slave master of the Rosehall and Palmyra planations and rumour has it she is responsible for the untimely deaths of her three husbands. Legend says she has evil, supernatural powers practices Obeah and/or Voodoo.
While Rosehall and Palmyra certainly do exist there is little evidence that Annie Palmer did. The book, however, provides interesting insights into the social structure of Jamaica both in 1831, when the novel is set and in 1929 when it was written. Historically, de Lisser's account of the The Baptist War also known as the Christmas Uprising and the Great Jamaican Slave Revolt of 1831.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

53. Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire's Slaves by Adam Hochschild

ISBN-13: 978-0-618-61907-8 - Houghton Mifflin, 2005

Hochschild has written a compelling account of the abolition movement in Eighteenth Century Britain that paradoxically manages to be scholarly and readable at the same time. In contrast to the recent film Amazing Grace, Hochschild doesn't glamourize William Wilberforce or overstate his role in the campaign to stop the slave trade in the British Empire which lasted nearly fifty years.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

52. Swing Brother Swing by Ngaio Marsh

ISBN 0 00 613394 0 - 1949

Published in the USA as A Wreath for Rivera, this Roderick Alleyn mystery is full of interesting characters which include the eccentric Lord Pastern & Bagot, who flits from one obsession to another, and the handsome, womanizing accordionist Carlos Rivera.

When a theatrical stunt performed during a swing band concert goes wrong, Alleyn sifts through clues (which include a pair of pistols, an ornate French parasol and a silver pencil)to solve the murder.

51. Blackbeech and Honey Dew by Ngaio Marsh

ISBN 0-00-651234-8 - 1981

While in New Zealand, we arranged a personal tour of mystery writer Ngaio Marsh's house in Cashmere, a suburb of Christchurch. Unlike most historic homes, this one is filled with books, photographs, paintings and furnishings actually owned by the people who lived there - Ngaio Marsh and her parents.

My hubby bought a copy of Blackbeech and Honeydew, Marsh's autobiography, for me and I found it interesting to read it while travelling in New Zealand, where most of it is set. Little has been written about her personal life, and this book deals mainly reminiscences of her childhood and work in the theatre, for which she received her "Damery".

Prior to touring her house, we visited her grave at Mt Peel in the cemetery of the Church of the Innocents.