Jane, the Fox and Me (42)

518wOLF0u0L._SX376_BO1,204,203,200_[1]This is a wonderful graphic novel for kids 9 to 12. It is a compelling story that is also humorous. But the themes of persevering and believing in oneself are at the forefront of this book.

Helene is a beautiful, curious, and normal young girl. Except she doesn’t fit in with the rest of the girls in her school. What girl can’t relate to this message? Few girls are in that in circle. We all had to put up with a lot of hardships and sadly so does Helene.

Her sole companion is Jane Eyre. As she is reading this book, while enduring being bullied, called names and being an outcast, she felt incredibly comforted by her reading of Jane Eyre.

And just as Jane Eyre was able to eventually have a happy life the same holds for Helene. She was even able to find a true friend that shared her interests and love of books in the end.

We all can rise above a life of suffering. But we have to first walk through a dark valley with perseverance and hope to a sunlit clearing full of happiness, love, and true fulfillment.

What will differ for each one of us are our sources of inspiration and where we draw strength. Helene found strength in books and Jane Eyre was a person who she related to.

I so love this theme because I too found true inspiration from books when I was a child and a teen. So, I can relate to Helene’s plight as well having been a Ukrainian Canadian young girl brought up in Montreal with all the clash in values.

I believe this book is a must-read for every 6 to 9-year-old girl.

The illustrations are also stunning and truly expressive of the message that is being portrayed.

Rating: 5 stars

Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

Posted in Author from Montreal, Early Reader, Educational book, Empowerment, Picture Book | Leave a comment

Twenty-One Cardinals (41)

This is a wonderful book by Jocelynne Saucier. It is a book that I will be purchasing for my library. The book is written so beautifully. The words flow like warm butter from freshly baked bread.

When I first picked up the book at the library, the title tweaked my interest, being  a catholic and interested in the religious components of our lives. However, it had nothing to do with cardinals…LOL. Instead, the Cardinals are a family.

This is a family like no other however. They are self-made? In today’s day and age, and because of our conformist culture, it is wonderful to read about this kind of family!  It is like a cool breath of fresh air on a very hot and humid day.

They are an essence onto themselves. They are unique and dissonant, the only members of our species it would seem that are self-actualized as they are.

The Cardinal family is not mean–but they do bear their teeth when threatened. But people felt uncomfortable with the Cardinal family? I wonder why that would be?

In our culture today, we expect people to all be similar to us. And when we find that people aren’t, well our uncomfortable antennae go up with question marks whirling through the air like chaff after a bond fire!

What is especially different about the Cardinal family is that they had twenty-one kids. And now, after not being in the same room for decades, they’re congregating to celebrate their father, a prospector who discovered the zinc mine in their deserted hometown in northern Quebec.

In this story, the siblings all tell their stories of their childhood. In the process of reading the story, the reader will discover a lot of things about Angele. She is the only Cardinal who has a penchant for happiness. But she has gone missing?!

What is worse, people have pretended not to notice for years. Why the silence! What secrets does the mine hold?

This story will hold the reader captive to the story until she is done reading the book.

This is one of the best books I read this year!

Rating: 5 stars

Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

Posted in Author from Montreal, Culture in Canada, Empowerment, Fiction | Leave a comment

These Festive Nights (40!)**

This was a wonderful read. It is by Marie-Claire Blais. I have a few books by her. Being born in Montreal, she was on my High School Curriculum!

But it has been years since I reread her, until recently. So, I am quite happy to be posting this review!  I will be reading some of her other books that I have at my library here at home over the next few months.

This is a wonderful story. The reader will be transported to a sun-drenched paradise in the Gulf of Mexico that is surrounded by the glimmering blue sea.  It is an oasis of peace and tranquility as well as beauty! It kind of makes you wish you could take a vacation. But every time I read one of her books, I feel that I have gone on a holiday!

Renata is convalescing on the island poised between two worlds: between the wealth and extreme poverty of the island and between the past and an uncertain future as well as between the beauty of the world and the horrors of history.

During her time here, Renata becomes tormented by thirst for justice, pleasure, and intoxication. All around her there are festivities going on in joint celebration of the birth of baby Vincent and the end of the twentieth nights a flock of characters assembles. They are wealthy, poor writers, facing their own mortality. They are men dying of AIDS, refugees, the Ku Klux Klan and other suspicious characters.

In this environment, Marie-Claire Blais captures the essence of our apocalyptic age, rendering it in powerfully evocative prose.

I loved this story from start to finish. It is not an easy read. But it is very rewarding once you finish reading it.

Rating: 5 stars

Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

Posted in Author from Montreal, Empowerment, Fiction | Leave a comment

Roots of Empathy (39)

This is a wonderful nonfiction book with an important theme for parents and caregivers. It encourages us as adults, teachers, parents, and caregivers to show kids empathy in all our dealings with them. This one thing can change how kids view their world and themselves.

Empathy can also help our kids overcome anger and anxiety by showing them unconditional love and concern. This book is written in a very engaging style so that the reader can take away many points in how to be more empathetic to their child.

Also, caregivers and teachers can take away a lot of tips in this book that will help them to take care of kids in a manner that will illustrate how to show empathy towards them and their teammates.  Children must learn how to give and receive empathy, and this book will teach them how to do both.

This book is solidly based on scientific knowledge of the human condition. But more than that it takes us into the pedagogy of how one can develop and foster attachment, emotional literacy, authentic communication and social inclusion. It shows how caregivers can take even the toughest kids and give them an experience which will literally change their lies by helping them get in touch with what it means to be human in a world of diversity, which is a very tough world for them to be brought into.

I believe this is a very important book for all parents, teachers, caregivers and anyone who works with kids. We live in a very tough world that kids have to learn to not only exist in but also thrive in. This book written by Mary Gordon, an educator, will help every parent and adult who works with kids to do just that.

Rating: 5 stars

Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

Posted in Author from Ontario, Culture in Canada, Educational book, Empowerment, Excellence | Leave a comment

Canadian Olympic Diary (38)

This is a wonderful book about a Day-to-Day Account of the 2010 Winter Games. It was a great Olympic experience for many of the athletes and for the people, like myself, who were honored to watch them on the television.

I am always inspired by these very excellent men and women who compete in the Olympics. It takes years to prepare for these competitions. Yet, once the games begin, the athletes are all ready do compete.

I remember the 2010 Olympics. For seventeen days, all eyes were on Vancouver!  The author of this book sat in the front row of every event. The were the team of The Canadian Press who hosted the new agency at the games. This book has captured in photos and words every moment in this memorable event in our history.

If you would like to relive thee experiences moment by moment, pick up this book and read it. It sure will bring back memories, such as Tessa Virtue standing in awe of her applause. What a moment that was for me!

This book is a keepsake for all Canadians for years to come. So, if you get a chance to buy this book, I would strongly recommend it. I know I will be buying it for future reference.

Rating: 5 stars

Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

Posted in Culture in Canada, Educational book, Empowerment, Excellence, Olympian, Olympics | Leave a comment

Inward Journey (36)

51jjie9XSwL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_[1]This nonfiction book is a wonderful portrayal of one person’s inner journey through the use of art.  It is a wonderfully moving collage of paintings that made Lawren Harris.

Lawren Harris (1885-1970) is among the most iconic of Canadian artists. Harris was an outspoken defender of modernism, and a very private person.

In this gripping, sympathetic account, James King writes about Harris’s public persona as the spokesman for the Group of Seven as well as his championship of Canadian art and artists.

Lawren Harris was born to great wealth. So, he spent much of his life selflessly promoting Canadian paintings and the interests of his fellow artists. But Harris’s personal struggle to become an artist was long and complex, and he was beset by much turmoil throughout his life.

In early 1930, he achieved a creative peak and turned his back on representational art and spent the remainder of his career becoming an abstract painter.

Unfortunately, Harris’s unhappy first marriage, his flight to New Hampshire and New Mexico, his lifelong interest in theosophy, his sometimes overbearing attitude towards younger artists, and the full magnitude of his inner struggles are all dealt with fully in this sensitive and engaging narrative that captures the complexity of the man behind the mask.

Rating: 5 stars

Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

Posted in Art, Creativity, Culture in Canada, Educational book, Empowerment, Philosophical Issues | Leave a comment

The Outside Circle (37)

This is a graphic novel with serious overtones and themes. It is a book that will be enjoyed by readers who have to face a lot of harsh realities with drug use and addiction. It is a book that is fitting for our time in many ways.

Pete, a young Aboriginal man is wrapped in gang violence. He lives with his younger brother Joey, and his mother is unfortunately a heroin addict.

One night, Pete and his mother’s boyfriend, Dennis get into a big fight. This sends Dennis to the morgue and Pete to jail.

Initially, Pete keeps up ties to his crew, until a jail brawl forces him to realize the negative influence he has become on Joey. This encourages him  to begin a long and hard process of rehabilitation that includes traditional Aboriginal healing circles and ceremonies.

This book is powerful, courageous, and deeply moving. It is drawn from the author’s twenty years of work and research on healing and reconciliation of gang-affiliated aboriginal men.

This is a book that should be read by young adults and adults, especially those who have addictions in their family.

I love redemption stories, and stories which show that it is possible for all of us to get to a better place that we are at now. It is possible to be free from addictions, even if we have been addicted for a while.

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

Posted in Culture in Canada, Educational book, Empowerment, Health, Mindfulness, Nonfiction | Leave a comment