#IMWAYR February 13, 2017

#IMWAYR time again, when readers share what they have been reading and find out what others have been up to in the past week. The adult version of this meme is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. The kidlit rendition is hosted by Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers. Whatever you are looking forward to in your next great read, these are fabulous places to start your search.



I do not recommend travelling in the winter.

My partner and I had to travel on BC Highways Thursday because he had to work on Friday. Our usual route was closed due to avalanche conditions. We headed north from our home in Oliver, to take the Coquihalla route. We arrived at the turnoff to find that not only was that route closed, no routes into Vancouver, were open. After lunch in the small town of Merritt, we got in line hoping that the highway would open at 4:00 when, according to @drivebc, the next update was scheduled. Sure enough, the road opened and we were on our way. 
The roads were treacherous! The pavement was a sheet of ice covered with a layer of water. 
About halfway over the pass, we stopped. A semi truck had jackknifed across the highway ahead of us. There was also an accident behind us. We waited for about an hour and a half till the one ahead was cleared. The group trapped behind were not so lucky and spent the night on the mountain. We managed, ever so slowly, to make our way over the pass and into the town of Hope. We thought the worst was over, but the freeway between Hope and Chilliwack was dotted with small ponds. My partner swears there were fish in some of them. A number of times, I wasn't sure we were going to make it through them. 

I might just have had enough winter.

BLOG POSTS LAST WEEK


PICTURE BOOKS

Dragonfly Kites: Pimihakanisa by Tomson Highway, Brian Deines (Illustrator) 2002

Dragonfly Kites: Pimithaagansa by Tomson Highway, Julie Flett (Illustrator) 2016

These are the second in Tomson Highway's bilingual Songs of the North Trilogy.
In this book Cody and Joe spend their summers in tents near lakes, far from other people. The boys create toys out of what they find on the land and turn the animals around them into pets. Everything is named. Eventually they end up tying string onto dragonflies and using them as kites.
Both these books are beautifully illustrated. I spoke of Brian Deines art in my blog post about the first in this series, Caribou Song.  Julie Flett's images capture a haunting sense of place, but it's the details in the wings of the dragonflies that are spectacular.



NON FICTION

5 stars
Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe

Javaka Steptoe's illustrations are just stunning. I am very thankful for this introduction to the life and work of Jean-Michel Basquiat. I spent some time looking at it after I finished this book. This is another title where the endnotes are as interesting as the book itself. It was from these I learned how and why Basquiat influenced Steptoe's art


Hurrah! I finally finished this book. Here's a bit from my blog post to give you a taste of what it is about:
"Ostensibly this is a book that shows what marketers can learn from political persuasion. For the rest of us, it's a brilliant analysis of how we are manipulated by both politicians and advertising. Spin is a book that will reframe the way you interact with the messages and information that bombard you. By the time you finish reading this, you'll be asking all kinds of different questions about what you see and hear and what's the point of the emotional punch it gives you. Before you respond to surveys and questionnaires, especially those that reveal information about who you are, you will stop and ask, who wants it and why? It's bound to help you understand how we've come into an age where facts hardly matters to many people."

NOVELS

5 stars
The Inquisitor's Tale by Adam Gidwitz Author & Narrator

Holy Carumba! This medieval story of three magical children is as good, if not better, than I could have imagined. I laughed. I cried. I cheered! There is something powerful about having the author read their work, but from what I have read, I will still have to find a hard copy to have a look at the illustrations. I especially appreciated Gidwitz' notes at the end talking about his research and the connections between his fictional characters and real life people.

4 stars
Sammy Keyes and the Runaway Elf by Wendelin Van Draanen & Tara Sands (Narrator)

I adore Sammy Keyes! Her adventure this time begins with a Christmas parade gone bad. There is a kidnapped dog, a blackmailer, and a troubled little elf of a girl. Sammy and Officer Borsch get over their antagonism for each other. I wept upon learning the nasty Mrs. Graybill's story and Sammy's response to it. 


Catching a Storyfish by Janice N. Harrington

5 stars
Just Wow! Harrington tells this story in poetry. Keet and her family have to leave their family home in Alabama and move to where they are closer to her grandfather. It's hard for her to adapt to a new school and make new friends. Ultimately it's a story of love, resilience and hope. 

The poetry is divine. Here's a snippet.

"WAITING
Waiting is the lace on the collar of your dress that you wear to school,
and it scratches and itches, and scratches and itches:
a long, long time."

At the end of the book, Harrington explains the different poetic forms she used in the book. It will encourage teachers to use this as mentor text.

CURRENTLY

I'm listening to Forest of Wonders by Linda Sue Park. I've started Ryan Quinn and the Rebel's Escape and am continuing to work on do Not Say We Have Nothing. I've started Bird by Bird by Anne Lamont. 

UP NEXT
I really have no idea. 
On Monday I'm picking up a box of books that I will be reading for the Chocolate Lily award. I'm excited about this! 
However, it's going to be rather time consuming, so I have to go through my books from the library, keep the ones I have to read for one of my reading goals and return the rest. I've already paused all my holds. 

PROGRESS ON MY READING GOALS

#MUSTREADIN2017 2/36, 2 in progress

#MUSTREADNFIN2017 1/12, 1 in progress

50 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 7/50


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Goodreads Reading Challenge 47/333

Spin: How Politics Has the Power to Turn Marketing on Its Head by Clive Veroni

"Politics is frequently cynical business. It seems to attract more than its fair share of charlatans, trickster's, and toadies. But it isn't always that way. At its noblest, politics asks and answers the critical question, "What kind of society do you want to live in?"

Ostensibly this is a book that shows what marketers can learn from political persuasion. For the rest of us, it's a brilliant analysis of how we are manipulated by both politicians and advertising. Spin is a book that will reframe the way you interact with the messages and information that bombard you. By the time you finish reading this, you'll be asking all kinds of different questions about what you see and hear and what's the point of the emotional punch it gives you. Before you respond to surveys and questionnaires, especially those that reveal information about who you are, you will stop and ask, who wants it and why? It's bound to help you understand how we've come into an age where facts hardly matters to many people. 

Much of what you will read isn't new, but how Veroni has put it together and made connections across the different concepts is profound. He provides ample examples from political and marketing campaigns that make the underlying principles easy to understand. Veroni shows us how politicians and businesses create and use wedge issues for their own benefits. Readers will come to understand how a small enclave of passionate people, like the Republican Tea Party, can influence and subvert the actions of the larger group. He takes us behind the scenes of the Obama campaign and shows us how they were able to mine data and redirect messages to specific individuals that ensured they would vote for him. He shows us how here in Canada, Chad Rogers used scenario planning to help the Nova Scotia Conservative party get re-elected in spite of their failure to follow through on their campaign promises.

I can't help but wonder what the author, Clive Veroni, would have to say about recent elections and the proliferation of fake news sites. After reading his book, I've come to see them through a sharper lens. 

Hopefully, the knowledge Veroni has imparted will give us the power to resist the manipulation tactics of both politicians and marketers. 
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#IMWAYR February 6, 2017

#IMWAYR time again, when readers share what they have been reading and find out what others have been up to in the past week. The adult version of this meme is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. The kidlit rendition is hosted by Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers. Whatever you are looking forward to in your next great read, these are fabulous places to start your search.

My reading life has been intense. So intense, that I started to feel overwhelmed by the emotional work it required. Then to add to it, I began listening to Barkskins by Annie Proulx. Shortly after starting it, I realized that it was going to take me over the edge so I stopped and dug around in the overdrive section of my local library for something light and fun to balance out my reading life. Hurrah for Sammy Keyes!

PICTURE BOOKS

Mama's Nightingale by Edwidge Danticat & Leslie Staub (Illustrations)

5 stars
This heart wrenching book is very timely. It tells the story of a child separated from her mother due to legal issues. Her mother is in detention because she doesn't have the proper papers to live in America with her husband and child. All the many letters her father writes to officials don't seem to make a difference. Staub's bold illustrations portray the character's emotions both in their faces and in the background details. Danticat's text is filled with beautiful phrases. "Sometimes the stories are as sad as melted ice cream. Other times they are as happy as a whole day at the beach."

Sweetest Kulu by Celina Kalluk & Alexandria Neonakis (Illustrations)
4 stars

A baby is born and spirits of the earth welcome it. Each brings it's own gift for the baby. Right from the start, Kalluk's words are beautiful to read, "Sweetest Kulu, on the day you were born, all of the Arctic Summer was there to greet you. Smiling sun shone so bright and stayed through the night, giving you blankets and ribbons of warm light." The rhyming scheme doesn't continue, but there is a pattern in the language that keeps the text moving along. Neonakis' illustrations have a disney feel to them, but they are rich and beautiful in their symbolic portrayal of these animal spirits. Together these two highlight a culture's intimate relationship to the land. This would make a lovely baby gift. 

NON FICTION

A while ago I discovered The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency series written by Jordan Stratford, a BC writer. The Goodreads description explains, "Jordan Stratford imagines an alternate 1826, where Ada Lovelace (the world’s first computer programmer) and Mary Shelley (author of Frankenstein) meet as girls and form a secret detective agency!" I already knew a bit about Mary Shelley, but I've wanted to know more about the real Ada Lovelace ever since.

I enjoyed both of the following books for many reasons. Both are filled with details about Ada Lovelace's life. They tell us about her early life at home without her father, Lord Byron. We learn that she was taught mathematics and science from an early age. She combined this knowledge creatively to come up with an idea to create wings that would enable her to fly. At the age of 16 she was introduced to society and began a lifelong friendship with Charles Babbage, a mathematician. Together they designed the Difference Engine and the Analytical Engine. Both are precursors to modern day computers.

Ada Lovelace: The Poet of Science by Diane Stanley, Jessie Hartland (Illustrations)

4 stars
Diane Stanley shows us the process of Ada's scientific thinking: first imagining flying, next researching the flight and anatomy of birds, then the creation of wings, finally sharing her work in a book about this project, and how her plans for a steam-powered flying horse emerged from this process. The text is loaded with this kind of explicit information. Jessie Hartland's illustrations are filled with many details that compound the reader's understanding of the text. Additional material about about the industrial revolution is revealed in these images. They capture the contrast between Ada's parents, and the world of society and the world of scientists. I was especially struck by the illustration showing Lovelace's marriage - she doesn't look very happy! Hartland's images reveal how Lovelace understood the implications of Babbage's work more than he did, and show how their work is integrated into our daily lives. I appreciate the extensive notes, the bibliography, and the glossary in the end matter.

Ada's Ideas: The Story of Ada Lovelace, the World's First Computer Programmer by Fiona Robinson

4 stars
Fiona Robinson's three dimensional images are gorgeous. I also love these end papers that show the punch cards Ada created to run her program. They reminded me of those cards I punched while attending university (many years ago) when computers first became available. I appreciated the details of Ada's early life that show her daily schedule and reveal how lonely she was. Readers learn that when she was ill with measles, (something we thankfully have vaccines for today) it took her three years to recover. I appreciated that Robinson explained how the everyday use of the Difference Engine could change people's lives. I was fascinated by her illustration depicting Lovelace's programing of Bernoulli numbers. The end matter includes a bibliography and a note about Bernoulli numbers.

I highly recommend libraries purchase copies of both these books!

GRAPHIC

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Volume 1: Squirrel Power (The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1) by Ryan North (Writer), Erica Henderson (Artist)

3 stars
Squirrel Girl has just started college and discovers that keeping her identity secret, partnering up with another secret hero, and focusing on her studies is going to be a lot more challenging than she anticipated. This book is loaded with goofiness, but that just makes it more fun to read. I appreciated Erica Henderson's depiction of Squirrel Girl as an almost ordinary shaped young woman. (After all, she's got that tale to deal with)
I've been wondering if I had read the comic books before reading Shannon & Dean Hale's text based prequel to these, would I have looked at them more favourably. The answer is, probably, but I'm not sure.

NOVELS

3 stars
Gifts by Ursula K. Le Guin & Jim Colby (Narrator)

Gifts is set in an alternate reality where different clans are separated by the different special powers handed down through the generations. "Wondrous gifts: the ability--with a glance, a gesture, a word--to summon animals, bring forth fire, move the land. Fearsome gifts: They can twist a limb, chain a mind, inflict a wasting illness." The different communities fear that another community will unleash their power on them. This novel focuses on two teens who decide to not use their power.

Sammy Keyes and the Curse of Moustache Mary by Wendelin Van Draanen & Tara Sands (Narrator)

4 stars
I needed a Sammy Keyes fix this week. If you are not acquainted with her, she is a modern day Nancy Drew. While spending time with friends out in the country, Sammy and her buddies befriend an older woman, Lucinda Huntley, and Penny, her 200 pound pet pig. When a fire burns down an historical monument connected to one of Lucinda's ancestors, Sammy and her friends end up investigating. Van Draanen brings important social issues into each novel. This time she looks at the issue of elder abuse, illegal drug production, and the complicated activities of teenagers at house parties. Tara Sands narration has become the voice of Sammy Keyes for me.

CURRENTLY

Last week, since my library copy had to be returned, I purchased my own copy of Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien. It is not a book to rush through. I'm reading it in chunks and savouring each word. I made serious headway with Spin: How Politics Has the Power to Turn Marketing on Its Head, but it is dense and I find myself rereading sections and trying to figure out how what Veroni reveals about the political situation prior to 2014 relates to what is going on now, both in America and here in BC where we are leading up to another provincial election. As a contrast to those two intense books I started reading a netgalley title, The Mesmerist by Ronald L. Smith, and am listening to my second Sammy Keyes novel, Sammy Keyes and the Runaway Elf.

UP NEXT
I'm planning on starting Catching a Storyfish by Janice N. Harrington. I'm especially looking forward to reading the original and new version of Dragonfly Kites, the second in Tomson Highway's trilogy of life in the north.

PROGRESS ON MY READING GOALS

#MUSTREADIN2017 2/36 1 in progress

#MUSTREADNFIN2017 1 in progress

50 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 5/50

Goodreads Reading Challenge 40/333

#IMWAYR January 30, 2017

#IMWAYR time again, when readers share what they have been reading and find out what others have been up to in the past week. The adult version of this meme is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. The kidlit rendition is hosted by Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers. Whatever you are looking forward to in your next great read, these are fabulous places to start your search.

This was a picture book week. I got in a bit of other reading, but have some kind of respiratory tract infection that leaves me exhausted and makes concentration challenging. I did manage to do a get a few book reviews written, but will post them nearer to the publication date. 

BLOG POSTS THIS WEEK


PICTURE BOOKS

On Monday I went off to one of my favourite book stores to search for a birthday gift for a one year old. While there I spent time reading picture books. Eventually I picked up three classic Maurice Sendak books in board book format: Chicken Soup With Rice, One Was Johnny, and Alligators All Around. They took me back to when my boys were young and spent so much time watching the following video that we knew the words by heart. 



I also had a pile of picture books from the library that I was able to spend a bit more time with.

4 stars
King Baby by Kate Beaton

This hilarious picture book exactly captures the chaotic reality of living with a baby. I am sensitive to gender pronouns and other gendered language these days. It's probably because I have two grandbabies coming and I don't want the first, and most important thing about them to be how their biology classifies them. Anyway, I was leary of this book to start, because of you know, King, but it's by Kate Beaton, author of The Princess and the Pony.  I ended up being so completely enchanted by it, I made my sons and their partners read it.

5 stars
Virginia Wolf by Kyo Maclear & Isabelle Arsenault (Illustrator)

This tale of a young girl attempting to cheer up her unhappy sister is a story for all ages. Arsenault's illustrations and hand lettering of the text facilitate a profound interpretation of Maclear's words. The contrast between the darkness of some pages and the vibrant colours of gardens accentuates the story and pays homage to Virginia Woolf and her sister, Vanessa Bell, the women who inspired Maclear to write this story.


3 stars
Busy-Busy Little Chick by Janice N. Harrington & Brian Pinkney (Illustrations)

I liked the pattern and rhythm of the language in this story of a mother hen and her chicks. In the cold of the night, the mother asserts that tomorrow they will build a new and warmer nest. But when morning comes she is easily distracted by all kinds of delicious food to eat. It's a good thing that her busy busy Little Chick isn't so distracted and as the days go by, is able to work towards a new shelter for them.


Caribou Song Atihko Nikamon by Tomson Highway & Brian Deines 2001, & John Rombaugh 2013

I picked up the original Caribou Song to read for my indigenous author reading goal, and fell in love with it. It's the first of a trilogy, written in both Cree and English, that pay homage to Highway's early years and life in the north. The warm and glorious illustrations by Brian Deines wowed me. Then when I went in search of the others, I discovered that there was a second edition, illustrated by John Rombaugh. Next up for me will be Dragonfly Kites, both the original and the new version, illustrated by Julie Flett.

4 stars
They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel

This one nearly knocked my socks off. Wow! I appreciated this interpretation of how a cat is viewed differently by the many creatures who see it. The illustrations are drop dead gorgeous. The idea reminded me of The Queen's Shadow by Cybèle Young and would be a delightful companion piece.

4 stars

Are We There Yet? by Dan Santat

This tribute to road trips honours the reality of spending hours and hours in a car, as well celebrating the power of imagination. It would make the perfect road trip book since Dan Santat's rich illustrations will keep a reader entertained for a good long while.



4 stars
Cat on the Bus by Aram Kim

This is the story of a homeless cat that leaps onto a bus to get out of the cold. An older gentleman befriends him and takes him home. This reminded me of Rich Cat, Poor Cat by Bernard Waber, an older picture book I have around here someplace. 






5 stars
Nanette's Baguette by Mo Willems

This utterly charming book about a young girl's first time collecting the family baguette is filled with all the humour and surprise we have come to anticipate from Mo Willems. I had fun reading the text out loud to myself in the far reaches of the book warehouse.

4 stars
Egg by Kevin Henkes

I'm so glad this book was on the shelves at the bookstore. It's the story of a group of eggs hatching. When all but one hatches, the birds fly away, but then return. What happens when they help the remaining egg hatch is unexpected. There is an important message here about revelling in our differences. I read it a couple of times to ensure it really was as good as I thought it was. It is.

4 stars


I Need A Hug by Aaron Blabey

This poor porcupine really needs a hug, but everyone is afraid of him. Readers will enjoy the humor in Blabey's illustrations and find that who he finally gets a hug from is a delightful surprise.





3 stars
Love Is a Truck by Amy Novesky & Sara Gillingham (Illustrations) 

I almost purchased this book as a baby gift, but changed my mind. I appreciated the colour pallet in red and grey and that the characters seem almost genderless. Many young readers will enjoy this book that celebrates love for all kinds of trucks.




NOVELS

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern & Jim Dale (Narrator)

4 stars
That was some read.  Although I finished it a few days ago, I'm still in a kind of fog. It took me a bit to figure out what was going on, and then when I got into this book, I really got into it. I sure wish I had read it with a book club. I still haven't figured out who one of these characters is and I'm sure there are layers of meaning I have completely missed. This quote from the end resonates deeply for me. 
"You're not destined or chosen, I wish I could tell you that you were if that would make it easier, but it's not true. You're in the right place at the right time and you care enough to do what needs to be done. Sometimes that's enough."

CURRENTLY

I'm about halfway through Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien. Music is such an integral part of this story, that sometimes after reading a description of a specific piece, I have to go and listen to it. This can be time consuming when Thien is talking about the different movements of a symphony. Seriously, this is a book to savour. I'm nearly finished listening to Gifts by Ursula K Le Guin. I really need to make more progress on Spin: How Politics Has the Power to Turn Marketing on Its Head. I promise myself I'll focus on this when I'm done these other books.

UP NEXT

I have no idea. I've got a monstrous pile of books that I am going to have to take back to the library unread.

PROGRESS ON MY READING GOALS

#MUSTREADIN2017 2/36 1 in progress

#MUSTREADNFIN2017 1 in progress

50 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 4/50

Goodreads Reading Challenge 33/333