The Private World of Tasha Tudor

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by Tasha Tudor and Richard Brown

Best known for her children’s artwork from half a century ago, this book gives a photographic look and biography into Tasha’s later life as an elderly lady in America who was convinced she should have lived 150 years ago.

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Her story and pictures will inspire adult readers who love the idea of being self-sufficient, working with pioneer-time tools, corgis, or true English-style cottage gardens.

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Ages 16 and up

Available from public libraries

Reviewer: Doreen

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The Awakening of Miss Prim

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By Natalia Fenollera

There is just too much that you could talk about with this book, so much so that you can find numerous reviews on various aspects of the book, both negative and positive.  The downside to this book is that although the book is primarily about a Christian religious awakening, a few characters flippantly mention hell or God. The upside to this book is the refreshing look at our modern-day culture and society’s expectations, through fresh eyes.

As for the whole notion of classical education, home education with a community’s involvement, a utopian society where people farm and produce their own goods and engage in debates and discussion on heady matters…such as whether Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott truly deserve a place among the classics, whether serving the living God changes a person so drastically that he can no longer marry a person who doesn’t believe, whether God can be found by skeptics who are open to finding the Truth—this and more I will leave the reader of Miss Prim to ponder for themselves…

I don’t particularly love the writing style, but there are so many quotes that made me think, such as Lulu Thiberville’s comment that: “Young people today extend childhood well beyond the chronologically allotted time. They’re immature and irresponsible at an age when they should no longer be so. But at the same time they lose their simplicity, their innocence and freshness early. Strange as it sounds, they grow old early.”

Adult fiction

Available from public libraries

Reviewer: Doreen

 

William of Orange: The Silent Prince  

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by W.G. Van de Hulst

Here we have the story of a Protestant hero told by a master story-teller. Sure to capture older children’s interest.

Ages 7 and up.

Available from Inheritance Publications, and Reformed Book Services

Recommended

Reviewer: Doreen

In Flanders Fields

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by Norman Jorgensen

This beautifully-illustrated picturebook provides a rather unsoftened look at war. Intended for older kids, it has somewhat graphic pictures in ink (some dead bodies, a skull, rats) which give a look at real life in trenches. The story follows an act of mercy and a brief glimpse of hope is portrayed by the bright bird and the Christmas carol with which it ends.

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Picturebook

Ages 8 and up

Available from public libraries

Recommended

Reviewer: Doreen

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The Gift of the Magi

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By O. Henry

Illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger

The Gift of the Magi, a short story you need to read at least once in your life—and a story you won’t forget! Written for adults, teens will also enjoy the story, especially in this oversized picture book with very artistic, semi-developed pictures. Here is a beautiful printing of this wonderful story of love, sacrifice, and acceptance of one’s circumstances.

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Short story in picturebook form

Ages: teen-adult

Available from: public libraries

Recommended

Reviewer: Doreen

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Black Beauty

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By Anna Sewell

Somewhere in the back of my mind I imagined this was a book for 13 year old girls/horse lovers. But I was very much mistaken. This unabridged audio version makes Black Beauty a book to be enjoyed by young and old! Such wisdom comes from an old horse’s mouth in this book, (I think of practical lessons learned from the pony Merryweather and his matter-of-fact handling of some rambunctious boys). But the wisdom is mixed with plenty of adventure, nearly adventure per chapter.

As for the book’s theme, treating animals with kindness is emphasized throughout the whole book, and the author makes it clear that all cruelty to other creatures stems from the devil himself who delights in cruelty, whereas love for one’s neighbours and other creatures comes from a love for God. Another interesting theme is the intolerance for ignorance. “I didn’t know any better,” is not a valid excuse according to this author, for great damage is done by the wicked and the ignorant–perhaps even more by the ignorant than the wicked, she suggests. She also speaks strongly for keeping Sunday as a day of rest and worship, and speaks out against tardiness, running late, and wasting time! There is also a voice against bondage to alcohol, and the oppression of the weak. There is commentary on politics and those who jump on the bandwagon, as well as slavery to fashion—“Is it not better to lead a good fashion than follow a bad one?” the author has a character ask. Food for thought 🙂

And for the true horse-lovers, this book is a real treat. Readers (or listeners)  will come away with a greater respect for the horse as well as some indepth horse handling knowledge.

This unabridged audio version is very well-read by Simon Vance who puts on the different voices with ease!

Ages 6-adult

Audio: 6 hours long

Available from: public libraries

Recommended!

Reviewer: Doreen

 

Counting Lions

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by Katie Cotton, illustrated by Stephen Walton

This is a large non-fiction picture book focusing on endangered or threatened animals. It counts animals starting with one lion, and ending with ten zebras. The text is poetic and lyrical, but the illustrations are what make this book so amazing. Two pages at the end of the book offer more information on the endangered/threatened status of each animal.

Recommended for all ages.

Nonfiction.

Available from public libraries.

Reviewed by Esther

Silent Observer

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By Christy Mackinnon

This is not your traditional picture book…I think it took ½ an hour to read aloud! Instead, the diary notes and artwork for Silent Observer was discovered by Christy Mackinnon’s niece among her late aunt’s things, and she worked at getting it published. It is a book worth publishing, as it rings true, like Laura Ingalls’ childhood accounts.

This story about the author, however, takes place in Nova Scotia in the late 1800’s, and centres on the childhood years of Christy who becomes deaf at age two after a bout of whooping cough. The picturebook chronicles her struggle with deafness and her triumphs and features a brief real-life meeting with Alexander Graham Bell as well as Helen Keller. But it also brings to life in a small home with 8 kids, an energetic hard-working grandma, a mile-long walk while singing to school, and newborn twins that arrive in the doctor’s black bag 🙂

Ages 5 and up

Autobiography/nonfiction

Recommended

Reviewer: Doreen

Illustration School: Let’s Draw!

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by Sachiko Umoto

Drawing people is the biggest hurdle to every artist. Would-be artists might show you sketches and paintings of still-lifes, landscapes, maybe even some animals, but not many humans people their pages! That’s because (aside from making fur look furry), drawing a person who looks alive, capable of movement or emotion, is very challenging.

This little book called Illustration School: Let’s Draw! is a compilation of three small books called: Happy People, Cute Animals, and Plants and Small Creatures.

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In some ways it is simply a step-by-step drawing book, but the brief descriptions on each page help you see what it is that makes one person look different from another, and how to capture it in pencil on the page. For example, on the page of faces, you are taught a few simple lines that will express these emotions: I did it! This is fun! Embarrassed giggle, Peacefully asleep, etc. There are faces from the front and faces from the side. On another page, with just a few simple changes in line, you are shown how to draw both a lively mother and a kind mother. Elsewhere, draw six unique boys. Draw a crawling baby and a toddling baby; a stylish father and a plump father; a police officer, teacher, artist, etc.!

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In the animal section you can draw simple animals while following the brief text that is sort of a leisurely telling of a fact unique to each animal. You are not given just an animal staring off the page at you, either, but different poses of things like a bear in motion: Step step, Sniff sniff, Munch munch, Zzzzzz, Ha ha ha, Eeyow! Somehow the asian style of writing manages to be somewhat random and relaxing, while being still very clear and concise :).

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Please note: This is not a book on drawing portraits, but on how to draw little figures of people and animals here and there…the kind of drawings that elementary school children do. I bought the book with my two girls in mind, ages 6 and 8, and although they used it, it was my son (age 5) who jumped on it, and began drawing various people from it. He saw it as the tool it is, the tool that would move his figure drawings from unrecognizable sticks to clear astronauts, firemen, and explorers!

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For complete beginners, there is a simple, brief introduction on the basics of using the book, simple drawing supplies, and drawing in general.

Ages: for the beginner, whether 5, 15, or 45!

Recommended

Reviewer: Doreen

Shadow Chasers

By Elly Mackay

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In my quest to surround my girls with a non-Disney beauty, I checked this picture book out of the library. The kids don’t seem to get as excited about beautiful illustrations as I do (although by looking at them over and over they are soaking them in), but when my daughter saw this book she exclaimed, “Mom! Did you see these pictures?! They’re beautiful!”

Perhaps they aren’t the most beautiful in your eyes, but there is something about the author/illustrator’s use of light and colour. Through the use of paint and collage, and maybe computer technology, she has captured the transient beauty of dusk and sundown. The book is aptly named “Shadow Chasers,” and I love how it gives value to the simple activity of a girl and her brother and sister having time for free play in the backyard just before bed—although to them it is a big deal, a time of wonder and discovery, as the light changes and they chase the shadows. A quick read. Enjoy!

For students dabbling in illustrating or just an innovative art project, these illustrations will give some fresh ideas about using a variety of mediums to make one picture.

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Recommended

Available from: Hamilton Public Library

Picture book

Story-line: Ages 3-6

Reviewer: Doreen