Thursday, February 28, 2013

106. Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

A small village in the north of England shuts itself off from the outside world as the plague arrives in 1666. Those who survive, a third of the population, are forever changed. Anna Frith's wits,resourcefulness and compassion are tested over and over again, but she is a true survivor and a memorable heroine.

Monday, February 25, 2013

105. Unusual Uses for Olive Oil by Alexander McCall Smith

A book of two halves, in the first of which von Igelfeld meets a wealthy widow, Frau Benz and dreams of marriage and living in her Schloss. In the second half, an annual student retreat to the Alps has startling consequences for the good professor.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

104. The Villa of Reduced Circumstances by Alexander McCall Smith

File:AtTheVillaOfReducedCircumstances.jpgIn the first story, On Being Light Blue von Igelfeld's birthday wish leads him to a four month stint at Cambridge University where he is nonplussed by the eccentric English academics and their constant infighting. In the second story, The Villa of Reduced Circumstances, von Igelfeld unwittingly becomes embroiled in a military coup in Colombia after being invited there to receive an academic award.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

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

Professor von Igelfeld visits Rome to conduct research in the Vatican Library with startling consequences. He later accepts and invitation to give lectures to cruise ship passengers  and finds that his popularity with the passengers, who are mostly divorced and widowed German ladies, overwhelming.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

102. Portuguese Irregular Verbs by Alexander McCall Smith

In this first book of the series, we are introduced to Professor Dr Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld and his colleagues at the Institute of Romance Philology in Regensburg, Germany. McCall Smith's quirky characters are memorable and engaging. This satire of academics and the ivory towers they inhabit had me laughing aloud on the subway.

101: The One Minute Teacher by Spencer & Constance Johnson

Using goal setting, self praise and self correction called "recovery", the method outlined in this book teaches self-awareness and motivation. Our students who are "helicopter parented" lack risk-analysis and confidence and this approach can help students with both issues. The framework is simple and doable and I have already set my first goal.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

100. The Iguana's Tale by Philip Sherlock

This delightful collection of "Crick Crack" stories from the Caribbean, is beautifully illustrated by Gioia Fiammenghi. Facing drought and starvation in their land, a group of animals make the trek to a lush part of the jungle. Each night they take turns sharing "just-so" stories.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

99. The Jumblies by Edward Lear

Probably the best known poem from this collection is "The Owl and the Pussycat." The others seem rather dated, not surprising as they were first published in the 1870s. I wondered if there were deeper meanings, or socio-political messages behind them, but after doing some web research, I think they are simply meant to entertain.

98. Summer at Fairacre by Miss Read

Miss Read, village school teacher, copes with her matchmaking friend Amy, school cleaner Mrs Pringle walking off the job, a film company doing a documentary about a local poet and many other challenges. Who knew living in a small village could be so hectic and stressful?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

97: Fishes of Toronto: A guide to their remarkable world

Contributing Authors: Rod Anderton, Pat Viggiani, Erling Holm, Mike Correa, Wil Wegman, Meg St. John, Chris Robinson, Colin Lake, Kelly Snow, Charles Weiss. A very informative, well illustrated and layed-out booklet that is part of the City of Toronto Biodiversity Series. I received a copy, signed by wildlife painter Charles Weiss at the opening of an art exhibit hosted by SONSI (Southern Ontario Nature and Science Illustrators). I would like to read others in the series and acquire them for classroom use.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

96.About My Father's Business by Lillian Beckwith

In a second autobiographical book, Lillian Beckwith remembers her father's grocery shop in a Cheshire village in the 1920s. Amusing anecdotes about childhood friends, shop customers and her parents make it a gentle & enjoyable read.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

95. The Other British Isles by David W. Moore

A History of Shetland, Orkney, the Hebrides, Isle of Man, Anglesey, Scilly, Isle of Wight and the Channel Islands. With chapters about each of the islands or archipelagos, this book spans early Neolithic settlement; Roman, Norse and Norman occupation; Medieval, Tudor and Stuart eras; to modern political and economic history. This book is well researched and documented, however I found it a difficult to get through sections that I was not particularly interested in.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

94. The Old Wives' Tale by Arnold Bennett

The Old Wives Tale (Arnold Bennett novel) cover art.jpg This novel is divided into four "books":1 Mrs Baines - relates the childhood and adolescence of sisters Constance and Sophia Baines; 2 Constance - the elder sister  marries the respectable Mr Povey and takes over the family business; 3 Sophia - the younger sister elopes to Paris with a rakish salesman and becomes a hotel proprietor; and 4 What Life Is - the denouement in which the sisters reunite and the story lines are brought to conclusion.