Wednesday, October 31, 2012

63. Who Could That be at This hour? by Lemony Snicket

A 13 year old Lemony Snicket  and his chaperone are commissioned to recover a statue of the Bombinating Beast and return it to its rightful owner. In true Snicket style, one is never sure who is who and who is the rightful owner. Quirky characters, weird setting and plot twists are reminiscent of the Series of Unfortunate Events. This book is the first of a four part prequel called " All the Wrong Questions" which will overlap the Baudelaire's story line.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

62. The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather

First published in 1915, this novel follows the rise of a Swedish-American girl to international stardom as an opera singer. Not your typical rags to riches story, Cather paints a more realistic portrait of Thea Kronborg and the passion and sacrifices that shape her life. Beautiful descriptive passages of the people and places of the fictional town of Moonstone, Colorado create memorable vignettes.

61. Mastering Art: Drawing by Anthony Hodge

Good guide to drawing basics like materials, colour theory,  perspective, composition and the human figure. Suitable for children and beginners.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

60. Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes

Whimsical tale of a naive kitten who thinks the moon is a little bowl of milk and tries several ways to reach it.

59. Zathura by Chris Van Allsburg

Brothers Danny and Walter learn about getting along together after discovering a board game in the park which takes them on a ride through outer space to the planet Zathura. 

58. Night of the Gargoyes by Eve Bunting

Illustrated by David Wiesner. A poetic picture book about the adventures of museum gargoyles when the sun goes down.

57. Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt by Anne Rice

Told in the third person by the young Jesus of Nazereth, between the ages of 8 and 12, this novel seeks to explore what every day life would have been like for the Holy Family. Rice, better known for her vampire novels, has researched and read the skeptics as well as the gospels to fill in the gap between Christmas and Jesus at age thirteen.

Monday, October 22, 2012

55. The Sea For Breakfast by Lillian Beckwith

In this second book of the series, "Miss Peckwitt" returns to the village of Bruach and sets up a croft of her own. It's a steep and humorous learning curve and we meet new members of the community and get reacquainted with old favourites.

56. Picture This! Activities and Adventures in Impressionism by Joyce Raimondo

Very kid-friendly biographies of Impressionist painters and descriptions of their works. Excellent art activities and ideas

54. The Sea of Sleep by Warren Hanson

Illustrations by Jim LaMarche.
In essence the text is a lullaby in poetic form. A young sea otter its mother, various sea creatures and landscapes are beautifully depicted in pastel and watercolour.

53. When Grandma Came by Jill Paton Walsh

Illustrated by Sophy Williams.

Madeleine's atypical Grandmother travels the world and periodically stops to visit. In each successive visit, we see that time has passed and Madeleine has grown up. Grandma compares her granddaughter to the things she has seen in the remote corners of the world.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

52. Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather

A charming description of the lives of French missionary priests in the newly created state of New Mexico in the mid-Eighteenth Century. Beautifuly written descriptions of the land and its people.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

51. After the Falls: Coming of Age in the Sixties by Catherine Gildiner

Gildiner, a Toronto clinical psychologist writes about her teen and college years in the 1960s. The adjustments she makes from living in Buffalo, NY to college life in Athens, Ohio are testimony to her resilience and depth of character. I really enjoyed her accounts of the donut factory fiasco and sorority life at college.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

50. Framed by Gordon Korman

In this third book of the series, Griffin gets framed for stealing a super bowl ring that was given as a gift to his school. A stint in the "Jail for Kids" and an electronic monitoring anklet can't keep the "Man with the Plan" from trying to clear his name.

49. Thrones, Dominations by Dorothy L. Sayers & Jill Paton Walsh

Sayers passed away before completing this mystery novel which takes place in 1936. It was finished by Walsh and published in 1998.  Lord Peter Wimsey and his new bride, the writer Harriet Vane, are adjusting to domestic life together when an acquaintance is found murdered in her suburban home. The historical backdrop includes the death of George V and Hitler's rise to power.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

48. Evelina: or the history of a young lady's entry into the world by Fanny Burney

Published anonymously in 1778, Evelina was the highly successful debut novel of Frances "Fanny" Burney. Originally released in three volumes it is written as a series of letters between Evelina Anville, her guardian and various relatives, friends an acquaintances. It is part romance, part mystery and a whole lot of social commentary on Georgian society.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

47. Black and White by David Macaulay

I'm not sure which is more clever and creative - the illustrations or the text. It's actually four intertwined stories. Great book for teaching about monochromatic colour schemes and points of view.

46. Lemons are Not Red by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Objects seem to "magically" change colour as you turn the pages with cutout shapes. Another fun book to create colour awareness.

45. Why is an Orange Called an Orange? by Cobi Ladner

Beautifully illustrated in watercolour by Lisa Smith, a fun look at colour, fruit and word play.

44. Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni

A fun way of introducing colour theory concepts, particularly primary and secondary colours, to young children. 

43. Zoobreak by Gordon Korman

This second book in the Griffin Bing series is as wacky as the first. This time Griffin and the gang plan a "zoobreak" to rescue Savannah's pet monkey who has been kidnapped by the unscrupulous owner of a floating zoo. Mayhem ensues.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

42. Time Remembered by Miss Read

Reading this autobiography, which retells Dora Saints early years and school experiences, I found myself nodding and smiling when I realized how she had used those experiences and characters in her fiction writing. Both the Fairacre and Thrush Green series are set in English villages similar to Chelsfield, Kent where Saint's family moved from London when she was four years old.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

41. The White Feather by P.G. Wodehouse

 In this novel, we return to Wrykyn a year and a half after The Gold Bat. It centres around the sport of boxing rather than cricket or rugby. In today's terms, we'd say the theme was bullying. The morals of the story are "believe in yourself" and "hard work pays off."

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

40. A Fortunate Grandchild by Miss Read

Charmingly illustrated reminiscences of visiting maternal and paternal grandparents in Edwardian England by Dora Saint who writes under the pen name Miss Read. (Read was her mother's maiden name).

39. The Head of Kay's by P.G. Wodehouse

I'm learning a lot more about life in a turn of the 20th Century English "public school" as well as rugby and cricket while reading these Wodehouse novels. The moral of this story is if you plan to fail you'll most likely be successful.

Monday, October 01, 2012

38. The Gold Bat by P.G. Wodehouse

Two things occurred to me while reading this: I wonder how much of this is autobiographical and I know very little about the game of Rugby which features so much in the story. First published in 1904, this is typical Wodehouse with off the wall characters getting in and out of scrapes. It is set at the fictional boys school Wrykyn where a group of students seeks to uncover the identities of members of a secret society calling them selves "the League" who are wreaking havoc.