Speaking Our Truth by Monique Gray Smith (56)

This is a nonfiction junior book about aboriginals.  It is an important book for all kids. We need the next generation to really understand what the aboriginals went through. We need our youth to be part of the journey toward reconciliation as we come to terms with the long-term effects of the Residential School system.

Canada’s relationship with its Indigenous people has suffered as a result of both the Residential School system and the lack of understanding of the historical and current impact to these schools.

Healing and repairing that relationship requires education, awareness and increased understanding of the legacy and the impacts still felt by Survivors and their families.

Young people are vital to how we move forward. We need each of the youth.

This is an insightful book. It is also sad that our history in Canada is plagued by such atrocities and injustices. We need to find a way to eradicate such injustices and to make aboriginal people’s lives more tolerable and something that they can be proud of moving forward.

This represents an ideal that will be hard to bring about unless we all pitch in. This book is the first step in that direction. It will show the young reader all that has happened, and how they can become part of the solution.

Rating: 5 stars


Posted in Aboriginal, Author from Vancouver, Indigenous issues, Indigenous Peoples, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri (55)

This is a wonderful book by an author who won a Pulitzer prize.  It is a story that will capture the reader and inspire like no story that I have read for a long time.

This story is a revelation. It is at heart a love story–of a long and sometimes difficult courtship, and a passion that verges on obsession for a writer for another language.

For Jhumpa Lahiri that love was for Italian which first captivated and capsized her during a trip to Florence after college.

After Lahiri studied Italian for many years afterward, true mastery always eluded her.

Seeking full immersion, she decides to move to Rome with her family, for a trial by fire, a sort of baptism into a new language and world.

There she begins to read and write initially in her journal solely in Italian.

This book is an autobiographical work written in Italian, investigates the process of learning to express oneself in another language, and describes the journey of a writer seeking a new voice.

The book is presented in a dual-language format. It is a great story that showcases Italian and English. Since I know a bit of Italian, I could even get nuances in the Italian that didn’t quite translate. I just loved that kind of exploration of the text.

This is a powerful story of a writer searching for herself in words.

Rating: 5 stars

Posted in Award Winning Author, Italian, Multi-Lingual book, Nonfiction, Publisher that has distribution in Canada | Leave a comment

Canada: A Country for All Seasons: A Visual Celebration of Canada and All Its Seasons (54)

This book is a pictorial representation of all the seasons in Canada.

We are lucky in Canada to have all the seasons to grace our lives. The seasons are quite vibrant and they demand attention.

Winter is wonderful because we can huddle in our homes, close to the fireplace. Our winters are usually cold, unless we live on the west coast.

Spring is vibrant in hope and luminosity.  It is a time to start over and many of us are inspired to do so.

Summer is sultry and downright hot. So, it is a time to take some day trips to our favourite lake and/or cottage.

Then there is fall, a bright and colourful time that signals that the cooler weather is ahead. The colours are so bright and so wonderful. One just wants to bask in these colours forever. But alas fall is short-lived, especially here in southwestern Ontario when fall becomes early winter quickly.

I love Canada, and this book will make all readers especially love Canada even more and celebrate it.

Rating: 5 stars


Posted in Canada, Seasons in Canada | Leave a comment

Montreal by Alan Hustak and Johanne Norchet (53)

This is a wonderful collector’s book about Montreal!

I was born in Montreal, and there is so much that I didn’t know about this wonderful city.

I learned so much about the city. But I also learned how Montreal looked in the 1700s and how it looks now.

It is hard to walk down any of the street’s of Montreal and not see history seeping from every part of it. It is a city that is seeped in history and beauty.

Montreal is one of the oldest North American cities. I had no idea that it was founded by the French as a Roman Catholic mission. I also had no idea that it was named for the mountain where the French founders erected a cross.

They also laid out the streets that today meander through three core districts: the Plateau, Downtown and historic Old Montreal.

The city has remade itself three times: first in 1830s when planners decreed that all buildings be built with Trenton Limestone; again in the 1870s when the city moved up the hill into what is called the Square Mile; and finally in the 1960s when Place Ville Marie and the infrastructure for the Expo 67 World’s Fair dramatically altered the skyline.

Montreal with its signature grey stone buildings and quite parks, remains Canada’s most alluring and invigorating cities.

The book is laid out in photographs from the same area in the early 1970s and now. It is a picturesque treasure throve of richness and brilliance.

After reading this book, I am even more proud of Montreal, the city that I was born and still love. There is nothing like  an old-fashioned Christmas in Montreal! That is Christmas at its best!

Rating: 5 stars


Posted in Author from Montreal, Canada, Collectors book, Cultural Diversity, Culture in Canada, Educational book, Empowerment, Geography, History, Montreal | Leave a comment

Where Oliver Fits by Cale Atkinson (52)

This is a unique picture book about fitting into a community and a place.

The book is illustrated by pieces of puzzle on each spread of two pages. It is unique and poignant.

Oliver is a little puzzle piece who is excited to find out where he fits in. Will he be, in the mane of a unicorn, on a tentacle of a pirate squid, part of a beautiful sunset or a fiery volcano? Or, perhaps will he be a member of a monster rock band?

When Oliver goes in search of his perfect place, Oliver discovers that finding where he belongs is harder than he thought.

This book will make the reader think where he fits in if he moves or is thrown into a different situation and community.

We can all find ourselves thrown into situations and places where it is hard to know where we fit in. This is especially the case for the migrants who are arriving here from other places.

This book will open so many different conversations with kids.

Rating: 5 stars


Posted in Author from Vancouver, Fitting in, Picture Book | Leave a comment

You Hold Me Up by Monique Gray and Danielle Daniel (51)

This is a wonderfully inspiring and meaningful picture book for kids about the cultivation of compassion and the importance of respect.

Compassion is so missing in our world today.  It seems that no one cares much about each other and certain we don’t care enough in a community to make a difference for the marginalized and the aboriginals.

This book for kids will open this conversation. Parents will be able to have this not so easy conversation with their kids about compassion and how each person deserves respect.

I love the words in this book.  My favourite words are:

You hold me up,
I hold you up,
We hold each other up.

Love has such an incredible simplicity, especially when it is authentic.  When we complicate love, it is harder to see its genuineness and we are caught up in a trance of details that takes us away from each other and really caring about each other.

This is because true caring is uncomplicated, but it is powerful. And we can all feel when we are held up by arms which really care for us.

This is a wonderful book!  I will be recommending it to all the parents that I know who have young children.

Rating: 5 stars


Posted in Author from Ontario, Author from Vancouver, Friendship, Unconditional love | Leave a comment

Warts and All: A Book of Unconditional Love by Lori Haskins Houran (50)

This is a picture book for kids about unconditional love.  What an important topic! And it is important that we teach our kids how to be unconditionally loving from as early an age as possible.

The author teaches an important lesson in the book: Love isn’t just for the cute, sweet and the cuddly.

Whether you’re shy as a baby ostrich, prickly as a tiny porcupine, or messy as a puppy pig, we all deserve to be loved. And each of these creatures loves in return too. All we have to do is to be open to it.

The illustrations are also super cute. They will bring the story to the fore for all kids who read it.

Rating: 5 stars


Posted in Author from Vancouver, Love, Nonfiction, Picture Book | Leave a comment