Category Archives: reading

Egg Money Edited by Deana Driver

EggMoney1

Photo Credit:  http://www.saskatoongermandays.ca/eggmoney.html

Egg Money is a collection of biographies about Saskatchewan pioneer women and their experiences in the early 1900’s in Saskatchewan.  The stories are told by family members and friends of the women and give a glimpse into the life and times of the early colonial period in Saskatchewan.  History does not often spend time on women and daily life, so these stories expand a person’s understanding of this time period.  The book includes maps and photographs to enrich the text.  While I wouldn’t put this book into every school library on the prairies, it is a worthy addition to the historical record and would be helpful for talking about how we view history and discussing which voices get heard and which are silent.

Genre: biography, history

Rating:  Good

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The Inferior by Peadar O Guilin

Wood carved Shipibo ornamental Spear

Stopmouth and his Tribe battle for their daily existence against other rival species in an environment largely devoid of plant life and small animals. They must hunt to survive and often exchange their weakest members with their rivals to secure food. Life is hard, brutish and short.
Stopmouth is the younger, less talented member of his family.  His brother is known for his courage and skill. They have been both companions and rivals. On his brother’s wedding day, Stopmouth is betrayed when their hunting excursion goes terribly wrong. Not long later, a woman falls from the sky and through both his life is irrevocably changed. Stopmouth is a complex and well-developed character.  The first person narrative keeps us embedded in the plot and fully aware of his thoughts and feelings.
Guilín’s book is one of action and intrigue. The quest for power and for knowledge, the nature of religious belief and rituals, and the relationship between justice and punishment make this an interesting read. Guilín’s world and its primitive society some perseverance to keep straight. A good book to recommend for readers who enjoyed Hunger Games and are interested in a different take on the reality-television-game-to-the-death.
Tackles the themes of survival, relationship between hunter and prey, ethics of hunting, the role of communication in inter-personal and national relationships, the complexity of cultural understanding. Genre: adventure, fantasy. Gr. 7-up.
Rating: good

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Wolf Blood by N.M. Browne

crossbowman

Trista, a runaway slave, and, Morcant, a deserting Roman soldier, are on the run in the wilds of Britain.  Each of them has a powerful gift and need each other to survive the harsh winter, the warring tribes and the Roman attackers.  Browne’s story is adventure, fantasy and history well-mixed.

It is refreshing to read a story of early Britain which includes druids but not King Arthur.  Browne’s language and story will challenge and reward the young adult reader.  While I would not hesitate to put this book into a high school library, I would think twice for a small elementary school.  The language and complexity would require a skilled reader which although present in my school population are of more limited numbers.  Themes include: survival, conflict, trust, loyalty and courage.  Curriculum connections:  fantasy, adventure

Rating:  Very Good

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Escape Velocity by Robin Stevenson

crow

Lou Summers is getting by.  Her father is a good guy but he’s been injured at work and is in chronic pain. They’ve moved around a bunch and have landed most recently in Drumheller.  Lou is so used to moving, she doesn’t bother to try to make friends anymore just duck in under the radar and stay that way. Lou’s mother left when she was born and has only recently had even minimal contact with her. But when her father has a heart-attack, Lou has to go and live with her mother.  A women, she hardly knows who doesn’t like her or seem to want her to stay.
Robin Stevenson is a capable writer who takes the coming of age story and makes you care. Her characters and situations feel real and plausible.  A well-written and well-paced story for young adults.  Suitable for students grade 5 and up. A selection which will appeal particularly to female fans of realistic fiction.  Possible curricular tie-ins – growing up, family, search for identity.
Rating: excellent –  well worth purchasing for the K-8 library and 7-12 lib

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Crypt – The Gallows Curse by Andrew Hammond

The Harley Man

Jamie Goode, aka Jud Lester, is a teenaged agent in a special covert division of MI5 investigating the paranormal.  A string of brutal unexplainable crimes are sweeping London and the witnesses have remarkably similar yet totally unbelievable stories.  Dark and swirling offenders, accompanied by cold and cockroaches, and bearing the scars of a noose.  Lester and his fellow agents must find out the source and set things right without allowing their work or even the existence of their organization to be discovered.
 Andrew Hammond tells modern and technologically infused scary story and while I expect it will appeal to quite a number of my students, this kind of fiction is not my  cup of tea.  A spy adventure/horror story set in modern-day England, it is suitable for the YA section of the library.  Edges of a romance will aid the books appeal to some while the gruesome macabre scenes will appeal to others.  Recreational reading material.
Rating: Very Good
Review – Fringe

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Picturing Alyssa by Alison Lohans

1930s United States - the Great Depression

For Alyssa Dixon, things keep going from bad to worse. Her baby sister was still-born, her mother is depressed, her father is stressed and their household is a compete disaster. To top it all off, a girl in her class has decided Alyssa is her  current whipping boy. Just as things start to worsen, she finds an old photograph of ancestors. Drawn to the smiling girl in the photo, Alyssa decides to take a closer look through a magnifying glass.  She finds herself transported back to a farm in Iowa, 1931 where she meet her great-grandmother, an eleven year old girl. It seems tough times and courage may be part of her family heritage.

Alison Lohans uses some well-worn novel devices to tell her coming of age story.  With one part historical fiction, one part fantasy, and one part realistic fiction, it is a decent read.  The story tells a bit about the life of Quakers in early America and takes a look at the current stand of Quakers on peace and American patriotism.  While I will likely purchase it for my church library, I’m not sure it will make the cut for school. The writing is good but not fantastic, the story is interesting but not riveting, the content is a little “too American” for my tastes. A worthy addition for an American school library but only a possible for a Canadian.
Could be used when studying different religious and cultural groups, particular early immigrants to North America and also as a selection for study of historical fiction. Suitable for grades 4-7.
Rating: fair to good
Review CM

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The Cellar by A.J. Whitten

000517 The Cellar

Meredith’s family has been thrown into turmoil through the accidental death of her father in a car crash caused by her sister, the driver of the vehicle. Their mother is coping through continual shopping and the sisters can no longer seem to connect. A new attractive young man, moves into the abandoned house next door and is the talk of the town. Meredith seems to be the only one not taken in by his considerable charm. Heather, her sister, is soon his girlfriend but all is not as rosy as it appears as the man next door is really a zombie.
I am not a fan of horror so The Cellar was an extreme stretch for me. The Cellar is zombie fiction which is trendy and appeals to readers of YA literature. I thought I would really hate it and I found it fairly entertaining. The violence and gore give me pause when considering putting it into a K-8 library but in the YA section it would probably be fine.  A fairly entertaining romance which will appeal to fans of horror and romance. No easy curricular tie-in, although you could use it when looking at Shakespeare’s plays as Romeo and Juliet plays a major role in the plot line. Mostly a  recreational read.
Rating: good
Suitable for grades 7 and up

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