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Milica Hovanec
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White Snow Bright Snow
White Snow Bright Snow
by Alvin Tresselt
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 8.08
50 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
36 used & new from CDN$ 5.72

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$ 4.79

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 wholesaler.in.japan
Price: CDN$ 30.50
22 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.

Tops And Bottoms
Tops And Bottoms
by Janet Stevens
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 16.57
42 used & new from CDN$ 4.09

4.0 out of 5 stars Story is a bit dated, May 29 2014
This review is from: Tops And Bottoms (Hardcover)
I have heard a version of this story as a kid, but I still find it very enjoyable. Illustrations are fun, and I like the unusual orientation of the book.

I am surprised that the bear did not eat the hare. However, I am glad that he has learned his lesson. Now, if there was only a book about things going wrong though you did everything right... The kids may get a clearer picture of what real life could be like.

Maybe, I'll write one. :-)

I give this book 4 STARS, because the story is dated. For today's generations, I feel it is too simple. I also don't believe the bear's reaction to the hare's trickery.

Two Old Potatoes and Me
Two Old Potatoes and Me
by John Coy
Edition: Paperback
19 used & new from CDN$ 1.35

5.0 out of 5 stars Delicious!, May 29 2014
I really liked this book. It is a simple story about growing new potatoes from old, but the author manages to keep the wonder of the project alive. The story is also a bit bittersweet, because the girl's parents are divorced. However, I appreciate that the author shows a real family structure, rather than the cookie-cutter happy family I usually see in children's books and TV shows.

I shuddered at the part where the girl was picking off beetles from potato leaves--"GROSS!"

I also like that there is a mashed potatoes recipe at the end. I have never placed nutmeg on mine. I will try this recipe in the future.

I found the pictures too busy at the first glance. There were many textures and colours, and spiralling sentences... I did not know where to look. However, that is what I love about picture books--unlike a TV show where the viewer has to absorb the image instantly, a reader can take the time to explore the illustrations. They are very interesting, and unlike anything I have seen before. However, the illustrations do not draw me as an artist, so I would not purchase this book for myself. Once I have children in my life, it may find a way to my shelf. :-)

Linnea in Monet's Garden
Linnea in Monet's Garden
by Christina Bjork
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 14.43
32 used & new from CDN$ 3.53

5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book!, May 29 2014
I have read the 1987 version for a book club. I hope the updated version has better photo reproductions, but here is my review:

This book is about a little girl's journey to Paris with her elderly neighbour so that they could stand for real on Monet's Japanese bridge she has so admired in her neighbour's book about the artist.

Monet is my favourite artist. The first time I was in Paris and have seen his painting in Musée d'Orsay I cried. People were staring at me as if I was crazy, but I was just so overwhelmed by the beauty of the live work compared to the paintings I have only seen in textbooks to that date. Linnea makes the same discovery. Photographs cannot compare to the real paintings.

I though this book was extremely well written. It is a perfect blend of fact and fiction, and overall a very enjoyable read. It is a travel diary of sorts that can introduce kids to Paris, Monet, his family, and his works.

It is a truly great book!

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