This week we've begun adding starred ratings to our reviews. This is not because we have been brainwashed by Leonard Maltin, but because a our "Recommendations" scale is really a purchase recommendation, rather than an evaluation of quality.
If you have any questions or comments, please get in touch with me at the address beneath my name.
-- Duncan Thornton
How A Book Is Published.
Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON: Crabtree, 1995. 32 pages. CIP.
Library binding, $20.95, ISBN 0-86505-618-8.
Paper, $7.95, ISBN 0-86505-718-4.
Grades 1 - 6 / Ages 5 - 11.
Review by Jane Robinson.
ADVICE TO YOUNG AUTHORS
Bobbie Kalman's books are very popular with children because of one magic ingredient -- Bobbie and her writing team "live" their books. Whether it is researching clothing of the past or studying rainforest birds, the team gets totally involved . . . When you put your feelings and opinions into a story or book, people will enjoy reading your creation. Your writing will be special if your love shines through!
As the author of more than one hundred children's books, and as a publisher, Bobbie Kalman seems to follow her own advice. Well known to elementary teachers and children's librarians for her wide range of non-fiction titles, Kalman takes the opportunity in this new addition to her "Crabapples" series to show us her team's behind-the-scenes magic.
Jane Robinson is a teacher in Winnipeg.
Gilles Gauthier. Illustrated by Pierre-Andre Derome.
Translated by Sarah Cummins.
Halifax: Formac Publishing, 1995. 60pp, paper. $5.95.
ISBN: 0-88780-308-3 (paper), 0-88780-309-1 (boards).
Grades 2 - 5 / Ages 7 - 10.
Review by A. Edwardsson
Nothing seems to interest me, ever since Mooch died. Nothing at all. School is a disaster. I wasn't that fond of school to begin with. Now I think it stinks. I don't want to have anything to do with anyone. I don't care if I flunk! I wish I could just give up the whole thing. And I wish Gary would just go away, him and his stupid little dog. DUMPLING! Is that name dorky enough for you? And the worst of it is, the name fits the dog perfectly. Gary's dad probably got him really cheap. I know that when you've just come out of prison you don't have a lot of money, but still, I think he might have tried a little harder. Ever since Mooch died, Gary is always asking me to go play at his house. It's no use. I don't feel like playing. And anyway, I can't stand his stupid Dumpling! I would rather think about Mooch.
> Gilles Gauthier has written a series of first novels starring Carl and his dog Mooch. His book Mooch and Me previously won Best Children's Book of the Year in Quebec. Mooch Forever was originally published in French in 1990 as Ma Babouche pour toujours.
"Carl, the vet explained it all to you. Mooch's heart gave out."
"Mooch's heart was better that any vet's heart! I'll never believe her heart gave out. She died because that ignorant vet poisoned her with his horrible medicine."
When his anger cools, Carl becomes apathetic, rejecting the overtures of his Mom (whom he usually calls Judy) and his friend Gary. He knows they're concerned, but he's too self-absorbed to try alleviating their fears:
Mom doesn't know what to do with me. I'm always sad and I've lost my appetite. I know that Mom is unhappy. Every so often she tries to talk to me, but I won't listen. I already know what she's going to say. Anyway, she can't give me the one and only thing I want -- my dog.
Dumpling is quite the fellow! He's a real clown! First of all, Sir Dumpling will drink only milk. Judy and I found that out pretty quick...When it comes to food, he's no champion either. He has trouble eating the dry dog food we bought him. He practically needs a nutcracker before he can chew it.
(Readers may also wonder how they figured out the dog would only drink milk, and why they went out and bought dog food for Dumpling since he's just there on a one-day trial basis. Didn't they have leftover kibble from Mooch? Why didn't Gary leave food and a set of instructions for them? And don't changes in diet give dogs the runs?)
Dogs are very faithful. Much more than Gary thinks. A dog isn't a toy that can belong to you one day and to someone else the next. Even if you have a good reason. Dumpling is already very attached to Gary . . . He belongs with Gary, the greatest friend I've ever had. Except for Mooch, of course.
Gary is grateful for the return of his pup. Carl says he would be willing to help train the dog and Gary [unbelievably] says "he would love to have the full benefit of my experience. He wants me to teach Dumpling everything I can." While trying to teach Dumpling a trick, the boys feed him two entire boxes of chocolate-chip cookies. Hmmm . . .
A. Edwardsson is in charge of the Children's Department at a branch of the Winnipeg Public Library. She has a Bachelor of Education degree and a Child Care Worker III certification, and is a member of the Manitoba branch of the Canadian Authors' Association.
Little Vampire's Diary.
San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1995. Distributed in Canada by Raincoast. 18pp, board book, $15.95.
Grades 3 - 6 / Ages 8 - 10.
* / 4
Review by A. Edwardsson.
* / 4
This is the secret diary of the Little Vampire HANDS OFF
In it I am going to write all about my cool adventures with Fang (my special vampire cat)
September 36th [lunch time]
Just had my Vampire Beans in blood I am having such a wonderful day -- Vampires have so much fun! We have received an invitation for Jack's costume party. What shall we go as?
Author Sonia Holleyman had a good idea for a novelty book. Packaged to resemble a real diary, Little Vampire's Diary "locks" with a velcro tab hidden under a keyhole illustration. Some sentences or words are in secret code, the printed entries are scattered and realistically hand-written, and many have accompanying doodles.
October 31 3/4 (late in bed)
- 1] Mega News -- I have been to the best party EVER!
- 2] Mega Brilliant news! Tinsel Trudy was sick. She drank too much party punch and she had to go home early.
- 3] Mega Stupendous News -- I came first in the costume contest!
- 4] MEGA-EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL BRAIN ZAPPING NEWS -- WITH SPARKLY BITS!
- Jack kissed me
Beside this, one "photo" shows Trudy throwing up, and another, Jack's chaste kiss. Neither of these characters seem to be in Halloween costume.
A. Edwardsson works at a branch of the Winnipeg Public Library, where she is in charge on the Children's dept. She has a Bachelor of Education degree, Child Care Worker III certification, and is a member of the Manitoba branch of the Canadian Authors Association.
The Mystery of the Missing Will.
Saskatoon, SK: Thistledown Press, 1992. 158pp, paper, $7.00.
ISBN 0-920633-90-0. CIP.
Grades 5 - 8 / Ages 10 -13.
Review by Joanne Robertson.
Review orignally published in CM, May 1992.
The deserted St. Vincent mansion on the Saskatchewan prairie attracts the explorations of Samantha and Meredith during their summer holidays. What begins as a diversion grows into an absorbing mystery that captures the girls' imaginations and places them in real physical danger.
Joanne Robertson, Winnipeg, MB.
Attack on Montreal.
Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1995. 128pp, cloth/paper, $4.99.
Grades 6 - 10 / Ages 11 - 14.
Review by Catherine Cox.
Aimed at children aged eleven to fourteen, Pierre Berton's "Adventures in Canadian History" series is reminiscent of the sort of adventure books Berton might have read growing up. Illustrated with black-and-white drawings by Paul McCusker, this series does little to attract the reader (or non-reader) who is growing up on interactive CD-ROM.
Catherine Cox is a Teacher-Librarian in Moncton High School in New Brunswick.
London, ON: Brick Books, 1995. 106pp, paper, $11.95.
Grades 10 and Up / Ages 14 and Up.
*** / 4
Review by Liam C. Rodrigues.
*** / 4
demons hang from doorknobs devils lurk in the dark of keyholes bite the meat of her hand doors have undone her once she loved a man
touching him her hands turned to wings feathered white
having the baby was the worst blood follows her now down all the shining hallways
In the persona of a poor poet reflecting on the evolution of his craft, Czeslaw Milosz wrote that "The first movement is singing,/ A free voice, filling mountains and valleys./ The first movement is joy,/ But it is taken away." Milosz wrote The Poor Poet in Warsaw in 1944 -- a particularly devastated city in a worn-out, war-torn world. Eastern Europe was on the threshold of change, and the veneer of hope had worn thin. Milosz knew what gave birth to the spirit of poetry -- but, in a landscape politically ransomed, "a cynical hope" was at best what lingered of the poet's lyrical voice.
the case is empty now
i threw it out
afraid to think
where all those instruments have gone
but a woman needs to know such things
a woman must keep house better than that
Liam C. Rodrigues is a Toronto-area writer interested in art, architecture, poetry, and all that liberal arts stuff.
Active Living: The Miracle Medicine for a Long and Healthy Life.
Gordon W. Stewart.
Windsor, Ont; Human Kinetics, 1995. 136pp, paper, $19.50.
Review by Marsha Kaiserman
Active living means taking things in stride - doing what comes naturally. It's gardening and golfing, dancing and dodgeball. It's squash and swimming, walking and wheeling. It's playing in the park with the kids, even washing the car or mowing the lawn!
Baby Boomers have, for the most part, been concerned about their health and that of their children. Yet, considering recent reports from Statistics Canada, we haven't really been doing a good job about it. Now, as Baby Boomers move into middle age, fitness experts have developed a new way to stay healthy -- active living.
Marsha Kaiserman is Head of Conferences Cataloguing at Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information (CISTI) in Ottawa.
author of The Mystery of the Missing Will
CM interviewed Jeni Mayer February 12, the week she came to Winnipeg to accept the 1995 Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Award for The Mystery of the Missing Will.
CM: How did you get started writing?
Mayer: Well, it was out of necessity when I was growing up, because I was in this town of 150 people and there was literally nothing to do. I used to hang out in this group of seven kids and we used to get together and tell each other stories -- you know monster stories, vampires, anything scary. And then afterwards we used to explore abandoned houses . . . And over the years it became a competition to outdo one another in your storytelling. So that's how the storytelling started, or at least the interest in stories.
CM: How very satisfying.
Mayer: It was, it was nice and vengeful. . . .
CM: That was your first book --
Mayer: Yeah, and it did really well. I wrote it for my kids -- we had spent the summer at Turtle Lake, looking for the monster, couldn't find it, so at the end of the summer my kids said, "Well, write us a story and pretend it's real."
CM: That was The Mystery of the Missing Will.
CM: That book seems to reflect some of those childhood experiences exploring abandoned houses. . . .
Mayer: A lot of my childhood is in that book, the spooky part of it. . . .
CM: The Mystery of the Missing Will definitely has a mystery, and a touch of the supernatural, but it seems that thematically you were more interested in the lives of the girls who are your protagonists than in issues relating to crime, or spirits. It's their relationships with one another and with their parents that seem to be at the heart of the book.
Mayer: Yeah, the characters in that book kind of dictated that. Especially in a mystery, you sort of block out in your mind all the things that are going to happen and how you're going to get to the end of it. But the characters always sort of grow and they have these personalities and these problems that enter into it. And I think that's particularly true of The Mystery of the Missing Will.
CM: The cover says "A Mayer Mystery," and when I started the book, I assumed that it would be at least be setting up continuing characters -- like the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew books you read as a kid. But by the end, it would be difficult to bring those characters back for a sequel. I was impressed that you cared enough for the realism of what was going on in their lives to not return them to a point of stasis so that you could plunge them into another adventure next time. . . .
Mayer: I never have any intention when I'm writing a book of doing a second one. And that's one of the good things about working with Thistledown, because they've given me the freedom to do that. They said, "Do you want to write a series of mysteries?"
CM: They've done a good job promoting your books too. . . .
Mayer: They've done a wonderful job. It's a good gang of people to work with; they're very open to new ideas. I've done a lot of tours; I've probably spoken at three hundred schools in the last few years. They really promote authors not just titles.
CM: You've written other things beyond these Young Adult mysteries; I'm wondering which you're more attached to, the Young Adult part, or the supernatural mystery part?
Mayer: Like a lot of Young Adult authors, it's not that I write specifically for that age group, it just sort of happens . . . Though when I'm writing I understand that those are the people my work is going to appeal to.
CM: So these things aren't divisible for you. You wouldn't want to write an adult Steven King or Anne Rice horror novel; it's that childhood experience of what might be supernatural that --
Mayer: -- That fascinates me. Absolutely. I've never had any plans of writing a supernatural novel for adults. I write what I write and I don't look beyond that and say "What should I be writing?"
CM: You also seem to be happy to write about the real places you've been. There's no ambiguity about you're setting in The Mystery of the Missing Will: it's a rural community outside of Saskatoon; it's not some place that could be in middle America. . . .
Mayer: Yeah, that's really important to me. As I was saying, I grew up believing that nothing could ever happen here, and it's important to me that when kids pick up books that they recognize their own home place, that they recognize those things that are Canadian.
CM: It seems that we deprive our kids when we don't invest the landscape they live in with the possibilities of romance and adventure.
Mayer: And adventure is there; I tell my kids about my childhood and I tell them about going through old houses, and going through graveyards at midnight, and they say, "Wow, I could neveranything exciting, and yet I look at their lives and I see the exciting things they're doing -- because they're living in a rural setting -- and they don't realize it yet, but I think they'll appreciate it more when they think back. . . .
CM: There's some question whether there's too much horror and supernatural fiction being published for kids these days; what are your thoughts?
Mayer: Well, there's a lot of well-written stuff out there --
CM: This might be a touchy subject, but you were living in Martensville, writing supernatural mysteries, at the same time the town was going through a nightmarish legal case relating to Satanic cults and who knows what else. Did that impinge on your imagination? Was it something that you ignored, or something that affected your writing?
Mayer: It didn't affect my writing, and I didn't have time to spend a lot of time on it, because I had two small children who were growing up in this insane series of events. And as a parent, I really had to focus so much attention on their not being damaged by what was happening, that my writing was irrelevant.
CM: In general, do you like the business of going around and doing your readings and promoting your books or is it just a necessary chore?
Mayer: Oh, absolutely not. I love telling stories, and the bigger the audience, the happier I am. I love telling ghost stories. I like the audience response to that. Doing a reading is sort of like sitting around the campfire with a bunch of your friends and their kids and trying to scare everybody.
CM: That sounds tremendously rewarding.
Mayer: Yeah, it is. It's the best part.
CM: Tell me about your job with the Saskatchewan Writer's Guild.
Mayer: I work as the Education Officer. It's actually close to what I'm doing right now as a writer; my job is to promote Saskatchewan and Canadian Literature. Our biggest challenge in Saskatchewan is encouraging the use of Saskatchewan books in the curriculum list. The schools are really supportive of the guild program as far as having readings and workshops -- there's about 250 sponsored through the guild, and then of course there are other writers doing it independently. We look at different ways of promoting the literature in the schools, whether it's by giving them information about the writers so they can do novel studies, or even information about how to get the books -- giving ISBN numbers, anything we can do to make it easy for them to use the literature.
CM: Have you written other mysteries since The Mystery of the Missing Will?
Mayer: The third mystery was Suspicion Island. I have written other novels -- one's set in Egypt, one's set down in the 'States. I was interested in the stories while I was writing them, but I don't really have an interest in publishing them, so I've sort of left them on the shelf. And now I'm concentrating strictly on When Eagles Dance.
CM: Would you talk about that project a little?
Mayer: I met the man who's now my husband three years ago at an elders' gathering. And at that time we just started telling each stories -- we're both real storytellers. And over a period of about six months, just as friends, we started talking about writing a short-story collection.
CM: What a great way to get to know someone. . . .
Mayer: It's been interesting. And I've learned an awful lot about his culture, not only through the exchange of stories, but we've spent a lot of time on the reserve, and I've learned a lot about his spirituality.
A review of The Mystery of the Missing Will is reprinted in this issue of CM
> Many web sites have annoying blinking text.
"The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the largest and finest art museums in the world. Its collections include more than two million works of art -- several hundred thousand of which are on view at any given time -- spanning more than 5,000 years of world culture..."
"How are rainbows formed? Why do they only occur when the sun is behind the observer? If the sun is low on the horizon, at what angle in the sky should we expect to see a rainbow? This laboratory, developed as part of the University of Minnesota Calculus Initiative, helps to answer these and other questions by examining a mathematical model of light passing through a water droplet."
You are invited to participate in our international, multidisciplinary, student telecommunications project! JOIN US on the Internet at St. Elizabeth School in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada as we celebrate Earth Day, April 22, 1996 with schools in every province and territory, through our very own, student-run national news service!
NewsWave Canada (Spring 1996) :a forum for students of all ages across Canada and the world
Name of contact:_____________________ e-mail address:________________________ School: ____________________________ School address:_________________________ School phone:_______________________ Latitude:___________________________ Longitude:______________________________ Grade(s) :_____________________ Subject(s): _________________________ Access to gopher: YES_____ NO____ Access to WWW: YES_____ NO___ URL of homepage if applicable Description of type of school/community ( in 5 lines or less)
Students participating in this multidimensional project not only become researchers and analysts, but also writers and publishers. Students develop skills needed in the information age. Through the use of technology they gather, analyze, process and communicate information dealing with contemporary issues in the real world.
In announcing the 12th annual Freedom to Read Week, February 26 - March 3, 1996, the members of the Book and Periodical Council's Freedom of Expression Committee reaffirmed their support for intellectual freedom, guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The Freedom of Expressions Committee acknowledged the ongoing commitment of Canadian writers, publishers, librarians, educators, and booksellers to support intellectual freedom, and committed themselves to vigilance.
Books and magazines are banned at the border. Books are removed from the shelves in Canadian libraries, schools, and bookstores every day. Few of these stories make headlines, but they affect the right of Canadians to decide for themselves what they choose to read.
The Freedom of Expression Committee produces the Freedom to Read Week Kit. The 1996 Kit contains all new material, activities for school, library, and a new Freedom to read Week poster.
SH0W YOUR SUPPORT FOR FREEDOM TO READ
Freedom to Read Kit Order Form (ISBN 0-9692164-6-7)
Kits may be ordered directly from the Bookand Periodical Council, prepaid, at $10.00 plus $2.00 postage and handling, plus $.84 GST. Total $12.84. Orders for ten kits or more, shipped to a single address, receive a 20% discount and may be accompanied by a purchase order. Mail your completed form to:
Freedom to Read Kit
Book and Periodical Council
35 Spadina Road
Toronto, ON M5R 2S9
Phone (416) 975-9366
Fax (416) 975-1839
Please send me_____Kit(s) at $10.00 plus $2.00 postage and handling plus $.84 GST (total $12.84) each. My cheque/money order is enclosed.
Please send me 10 or ____kits at $8.00 each plus $10.00 postage and handling plus GST.
Purchase Order #________________
Please make cheques or money orders payable to the Book and Periodical Council.
GST No. R106801889
Copyright © 1996 the Manitoba Library Association.
Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice
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