Tomorrow is Authors for Indies Day! Rossland’s fantastic independent locally owned bookstore, New Edition Café Books, is hosting local authors Almeda Glenn Miller (10:30-12:00), Jennifer Ellis (presenting a workshop on Indie and Hybrid Publishing from 1:30-3:00), and Rosa Jordan (3:00-5:00). Unfortunately, due to prior commitments I am not able to participate but I have donated some books for a door prize. Come out to talk books and support your local bookstore!
Title: The Walking Fish
Author: Rachelle Burk & Kopel Burk
Publisher: TumbleHome Learning
Reviewer: Yolanda Ridge
This middle grade novel, aimed at students in grades 4-7, got off to a slow start for me. There was a typo on the first page. And the “action” starts with a collection of groan-worthy puns that define the relationship between the main character, Alexis (“Minnow”) and her fingerless, fish-loving grandfather who doesn’t make an actual appearance in the book until the last couple pages.
The puns continue past the first page but the slow part is almost immediately replaced with a fast-paced adventure. First, Alexis finds the fish in a pond outside her family’s summer cabin at Glacial Lake. Then, she and her friend, Darshan, are immediately drawn into the mystery of where the walking, blind fish came from. The truth is pursued through boat and helicopter rides, cave exploration and spelunking, with a greedy, back-stabbing, chairman of the the Environmental Science Department at Glacial Lake University (in other words, the boss) thrown in for good conflict.
The science in this book is accurate, well presented, and not overwhelming. The narrative is clear and Rachel Burke does a good job of incorporating interesting characters that challenge Alexis as a friend, daughter and scientists while also introducing her to the first twinges of romance. But the best character, by far, is Alexis herself who is fearless and relentless in her pursuit of the truth – all initiated by an authentic grief that accompanies the death of “her fish”.
The ending was not completely satisfying or realistic. Why doesn’t Alexis, after being so feisty and forthcoming throughout the novel, tell everyone the truth about her scientific discovery when she’s rescued from the cave? It is only when two other students at the University come forward with the truth about the boss that everyone magically forgives Alexis. And then suddenly, everything is neatly tied up – and I mean everything, even the big mouth on the big boss – and Alexis gets the credit she deserves.
Minor quibbles aside, The Walking Fish is a great read. It will especially appeal to those with an interest in science – like me – but there is enough action and character development to keep everyone turning the page. Recommended.
I’m not dressing up for the occasion (although many people in the UK do – very cool!) But I am reading. And since my morning radio show asked everyone what book was on their bedside table, I feel compelled to share:
– The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America by Thomas King
– A Pair of Docks by Jennifer Ellis
– 50 Climate Questions: A Blizzard of Blistering Facts by Peter Christie and Ross Kinnaird (illustrator)
– Fun Facts & Silly Stories 3 Ripley’s Believe it or Not!
Now I happen to think that everyday should be book day… but I’m very grateful to the organizers of World Book Day. Enjoy your read!
Title: WHEN THE WORST HAPPENS: Extraordinary Stories of Survival
Author: Tanya Lloyd Kyi
Publisher: Annick Press
Reviewer: Yolanda Ridge
This great non-fiction offering from BC author Tanya Lloyd Kyi challenges readers to think about what they’d do if they were facing life and death. Along with engaging artwork by David Parkins, the text provides practical survival tips such as finding friends, going back to basics and getting zen (my personal favourite).
But what really makes this book riveting reading for someone who will probably never get trapped in a mine or on a floating chunk of ice are the real life stories of young people who have faced these types of scenarios. These personal vignettes are told through a fast paced narrative that encourages readers to skip ahead pages (literally) so they can find out what happened. Interspersed with interesting facts about the bodies response to stress, fear, and deprivation (and starvation, dehydration, altitude sickness, insomnia, heat exhaustion, hypothermia, injury…) geographic descriptions and historical facts that put dangers into context, this format also allows the stories to serve as examples of each chapter’s learning point.
With the perfect mix of good story telling and education, When the Worst Happens is highly recommended for 9 to 12-year-olds (and above) – whether your an adventure seeker, bad luck finder, or armchair crusader.
Title: The Hypnotists
Author: Gordon Korman
Reviewer: Yolanda Ridge
In honour of my sons’ birthday, I thought I’d post a book by one of their favourite authors, Gordon Korman.
With so many great titles to choose from, I had trouble narrowing it down to one feature book by this prolific story teller. My whole family is a huge fan of the 39 clues (the audiobooks are highly recommended for a long car rides), Spencer loves The Everest Trilogy (and Titanic and Dive and Island...) and Oliver is really looking forward to the release of Masterminds.
But the concept of The Hypnotists, where a 12-year-old mind bender masters his talent and learns how the gift of hypnotism can be used to destroy (or save) the world, is pure genius. We are currently listening to the audio version of The Hypnotists (after reading it several times) and reading (well, my son is re-reading) the next book in the series, Memory Maze, which is just as engaging as the first.
Luckily, Gordon Korman likes trilogies so we can probably look forward to another book in this series too. In the meantime, check out any of this author’s titles – you will not be disappointed!
You will not be disappointed, you will not be disappointed, you will not be…
Title: Skink on the Brink
Author: Lisa Dalrymple
Illustrator: Suzzane Del Rizzo
Publisher: Fitzhenry & Whiteside (2013)
Reviewer: Yolanda Ridge
Stewie is a skink with a beautiful blue tail and a love of songs and rhyme. Lisa Dalrymple’s delightful picture book, aimed at five to eight-year old readers, follows Stewie the blue through the trails of adolescence accompanied by Suzanne Del Rizzo’s vibrant plasticine illustrations.
When his tail turns grey, Stewie is forced to adapt and recognize his uniqueness. It is a journey that subtly parallels his changing environment, introducing the concept of animal habitat, life cycles and endangered species. Two pages of skink facts at the end allows readers to dig deeper into the concept of extinction.
A great addition to the science curriculum, Skink on the Brink won the SCBWI Crystal Kite award for Canada. It’s also my pick for Authors for Earth Day Eco-Book of the month featured on facebook.
Author: Mary McKenna Siddals
Illustrator: Ashley Wolff
Publisher: Tricycle (2010)
I just featured this title on the Authors for Earth Day Facebook page as the Eco-Book of the Month. It is scheduled for release in paperback in October. Here’s my blurb:
This rhythmic, rhyming picture book starts with a call out to environmental chefs to mix up a batch of compost stew from scratch. And alphabetical list of ingredients follows with creative entries for some of the more challenging letters. Beautifully complimenting the text, Ashley Wolff’s collage-style illustrations (made from newspaper, tea bags, grass clippings and other recycled materials) show the wild, red-haired heroine cooking up the recipe till she is left with rich, crumbly compost stew. The result is a light, fun delivery of an important earth-friendly message that begs to be applied to home and extended in the classroom. Additional acitivites, teaching resources and lesson plans are available through the author’s website. Dig in – you will not be disappointed!