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Milica Hovanec
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Legend of Korra: Book One: Air [Blu-ray] (Bilingual) [Import]
Legend of Korra: Book One: Air [Blu-ray] (Bilingual) [Import]
DVD ~ Janet Varney
Price: CDN$ 25.09
19 used & new from CDN$ 20.24

4.0 out of 5 stars A Rushed Story, But Lots Of Fun, Aug. 28 2014
I prefer the original Avatar: The Last Air Bender, but I do like this series, too. It has great comedy moments, and I love Korra. I think the Love Triangle (or Love Square) moves far too quickly. I wish the writers took the time to develop the story more. It feels somewhat rushed. However, great fun!

As far as the Blu-Ray quality: There is one pixel white line between character's skin and the outline that I find irritating. I wonder if this would disappear on a DVD.

That Darn Cat! (1965) (Bilingual)
That Darn Cat! (1965) (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Hayley Mills
Price: CDN$ 6.25
27 used & new from CDN$ 4.85

4.0 out of 5 stars Good Old Family Fun Movie, Aug. 28 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I have always loved this movie. I find it rather funny, in a stagey kind of way. I was surprised by the viciousness of the bad guys, at moments they really managed to frighten me. A Disney Classic, what else need I say? :-)

The Egg Tree
The Egg Tree
by Katherine Milhous
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.49
34 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars Ordinary Story, Colours Hurt My Eyes, Aug. 28 2014
This review is from: The Egg Tree (Paperback)
This is another book choice from my picture book club. I have found the book in my local library and the following is my review.

I try not to be harsh when it comes to my reviews, because each book is someone's baby and I'm sensitive to the fact that each one is precious. However, as a writer and an illustrator reading this book, I feel as if I'm missing something. Why was this book a winner?

It is a very ordinary story about kids who search for eggs during Easter, one of them discovers old eggs in the attic, and their grandmother shows them how to make The Egg Tree. The word spreads and next year even people from the Big City come to see the enormous egg tree the children have created.

I found the separation of text mid sentence with a two-page spread in between irritating. I want to stop and look at the illustrations, but I have to flip the page to complete my sentence first.

I'm also not a fan of this type of illustration. Illustrations in the book are very wooden, and the colours are all over the place--some illustrations literally hurt my eyes. I understand that the 50s were the period of expressionism and moving away from classical illustrations, but I would take Beatrice Potter and Arthur Racham's work over this any day. Maybe it is because of the WWII that they could not afford to spend more money on printing full colour illustrations? I do not know. I am not an expert. However, I am not a fan. I realise Milhous was trying to copy the "Pennsylvania Dutch", but it does not feel or look quite right. Terrible sense of colour throughout the whole book. Monochromatic illustrations are the only ones I can stand to look at. Maybe this is just the case with my book? It is the Charles Scribner's Sons First Edition 1978.

"The Egg Tree" did not resonate with me at all. The one thing I did like about it is discovering that you could "blow" an egg, and then paint the shell to keep it forever. I have never heard of this before.

The last sentence makes no sense, because the eggs Kathy found were painted by her grandmother and not by the Easter Rabbit.

I'm sorry, but 2 stars is the best that I can give.

White Snow Bright Snow
White Snow Bright Snow
by Alvin Tresselt
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 8.08
43 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Not fond of the colour scheme, but a great book, July 25 2014
This review is from: White Snow Bright Snow (Paperback)
I have thoroughly enjoyed this story, even though it brings memories of the horrible Toronto winters in July. The poem had me a bit confused, because I thought it was a part of the story, so when I got to the first page of the actual story and everyone was saying how the snow was coming, but the poem said it covered the roads and fences... Well, I thought I may have missed a page or something. :-)

However, I love the simple loving story of the coming and leaving of snow. It was a different time and way of life way back in 1947 when the story was first published, but everything in the story is still true today. The adults have to go to work, while children love to play in the snow. I miss the days when snow meant snowmen, forts, and snowball fights. At this point in my life snow means grabbing a shovel and shovelling until I collapse, while work awaits in the never-quite-warm house.

It would be interesting to see what a modern writer could do with this story. For one thing there would not be a patiently waiting, caring, policeman's wife concerned with her husband's needs; though there are probably many of those in real life. I also doubt that there would be the simple peace of the story--something hectic would be happening and all the people would be rushing about forgetting to breathe.

I also find the illustrations quite charming, though the colour pallet is quite hideous in my opinion--people with orange-red faces are quite garish. I find I am not able to look at an illustration for too long. I'm also wondering if there was an accident at the printers resulting in this book.

However, the characters are charming, and the lines, beautiful.

The Big Snow
The Big Snow
Offered by Simon & Schuster Canada, Inc.
Price: CDN$ 14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars I would recommend this book to anyone!, July 25 2014
This review is from: The Big Snow (Kindle Edition)
I love this book. It shows how different woodland animals get ready for winter. Then an unexpected Big Snow storm causes plenty of trouble. Will the animals starve?

A truly beautiful book and a perfect solution to working on a budget. Not all of the illustrations are coloured, but I love the sketchy pencil illustrations. My favourite is a page spread of a squirrel trying to avoid the falling snow flakes.

I would recommend this book to anyone.

(A book club's pick.)

Blueberries for Sal (Picture Puffins)
Blueberries for Sal (Picture Puffins)
Offered by Penguin Group USA
Price: CDN$ 8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect!, July 25 2014
Another of my book club picks:

Little Sal goes with her mother to pick blueberries, but ends up eating them instead. Little bear goes with his mother to eat blueberries, and eat them he does.
Two mothers and two children on a Blueberry Hill.

Perfect!

This story is perfect, and the blue ink illustrations are gorgeous!

I may buy this book in the future.

Song of the Swallows
Song of the Swallows
by Leo Politi
Edition: Hardcover
32 used & new from CDN$ 5.08

4.0 out of 5 stars A Pleasant, Lovely Story, July 25 2014
This review is from: Song of the Swallows (Hardcover)
I have read this book as part of my book club:

I liked this story about a little boy who is friends with the gardener and bell-ringer of a neighbouring Mission, and his love of swallows.

Growing up in Europe they were my favourite birds, but living here in Canada I have almost completely forgotten them. I have forgotten that they build their nests with mud.

Illustrations are alright, though a bit wooden for my taste.

I think that having two little songs in the book is delightful and sure to be fun for kids to sing, or to learn to play on the piano.

Charlotte in Giverny
Charlotte in Giverny
Price: CDN$ 4.61

5.0 out of 5 stars Marvellous!, July 25 2014
I got this book from the library as part of my book club:

I LOVE this book. I'm buying this book the first chance I get! It is a wonderful personal journal account by a little girl who is staying with her mother and her painter father in Giverny near Monet and other Impressionists in 1892. I felt as if I was there.

As an artist whose favourite style of art is Impressionism, I have devoured every word. The paintings in the book are marvellous, illustrating Charlotte's day to day life. As I was reading, I felt that they were painted by her father. I love Charlotte's own little sketches, created by Melissa Sweet, too, as well as the photographs and little pictures of labels and things to precious to throw away.

It seems such a happy joyful way to live. Charlotte also includes French words of objects and plants as she learns them, as well as some basic phrases. I honestly feel as if Charlotte was a real girl and that I have gotten to know her well. We would have been great friends. :-)

I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves art (Impressionism in particular), journals, travel adventures, and times gone by.

Pilot Hi-tec-c Gel Ink Pen - 0.4 Mm - Basic Colors - 10 Pen Gift Set
Pilot Hi-tec-c Gel Ink Pen - 0.4 Mm - Basic Colors - 10 Pen Gift Set
Offered by sept couleur jp
Price: CDN$ 30.50
12 used & new from CDN$ 30.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Love These Pens, June 12 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I'm an artist and this is the pen I love to sketch with. I was devasted to discover that they stopped selling it in a Canada for some reason. I stumbled upon this colour set, and I love it! I wish they would have sets of individual colour for sale, because I would really like to get more black and green. :-)

Elle Burton and the Reflective Portals
Elle Burton and the Reflective Portals
Price: CDN$ 3.26

5.0 out of 5 stars Should Be Part Of Every School's Curriculum, June 12 2014
It is our natural instinct to protect the children in our lives, but do we protect them too much? The very real threats and issues children face today are usually swept aside in literature, because we believe that our children could not handle the truth about violence, abuse, and even bullying? However, I wonder: by all of this protecting, do we in fact leave our children vulnerable to the very real threats surrounding them? Do we prevent them from finding strength in themselves to stand up for their peers?

After reading this book, I have come to a conclusion that this book should be included in every school's curriculum, beginning with the first grades of Elementary and Middle Schools, and maybe even High School.

What Ms. McAloon and Ms. Rogers have done is to create a book series with familiar elements of fantasy, that is nevertheless grounded in the real world with very real threats I did not discover until I was well into my teens. Elle (pronounced Ellie) is an extraordinary child, as well as a very ordinary little girl; she loves to wear pretty clothes, play with her friends, and does her homework regularly. However, at the beginning of this series destiny places a great honour, and a greater burden, on her ten-year-old shoulders; Elle is to become a Guide and help the fairy-like creatures called Fiorins to protect the children of our world.

*****SPOILER ALERT*****

At the beginning of book one ("Elle Burton and The Reflective Portals"), Elle looses her father to a war almost at the moment she gains a brother and discovers that she may be a Fiori Guide. As she is struggling to help her grieving mother raise the new baby on her own while dealing with her own grief, she is called upon to protect a family from an abusive father, protect other widows and their children from a scheming fraudulent financial advisor, show a class bully that it is better to be a friend instead...

*****SPOILER ENDS*****

Elle is not sure she has what it takes to be a Guide. She is questioning everyone's belief and trust in her, especially when she stumbles into trouble. However, in spite of her fears and insecurities in her new role, she is always there to help when Fiorins call upon her.

What I particularly love about this book is that it is filled with good advice that the abused children and children in trouble can take. This advice is cleverly presented through Elle and her own actions. The book also teaches children who are not in trouble to step up and help their peers by convincing them to talk to adults, and to stand up to bullies.

Because a ten-year old is not wise enough to solve all the problems, there are the immortal Fiorins to provide additional advice, particularly through the wise words of their leader, Mother Blue.

Aside from this book being very educational, a sort of how-to guide, I love it because it is very fun. Elle gets to go to Fiori, a magical fantasy land, where she discovers spider-pulled web elevators, flowers big as houses, fantastical swan-like creatures, and Pegassus. As every good fantasy needs fearsome and terrifying villains, she also discover the alligator-like Zorins who are bent on destroying everything, but can literarily be killed with flower power. (I am not explaining that bit; if you want to find out more about the killing power of flowers you will just have to read the book).

This book is by no means perfect. Sometimes I find the language flow is not as seamless as it could be, and for once in my life I would wish for a chubby, ordinary girl to be the hero. I find our society is obsessed with beauty way too much as it is, and in my case I blame the fairytales.

However, though Elle is beautiful, she is also extremely good. She is not perfect (that would be annoying), she messes up mostly because she does not take the time to think, and because the terrifying situations she is placed in sometimes scramble her brain. Nevertheless, she is a better child than I ever was. (This is probably the reason she was chosen by Fiorins.)

This book, though written for children, is an enjoyable read for adults as well. I sincerely hope if there is a teacher, librarian, principal, etc. reading this review that they will pick up a copy of this book and give it a chance. I'm sure that they too would see the wisdoms of having it in their schools.

For myself, I can't wait to read the next book in the series.

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