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CanadianMother (Ontario)

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by Charlotte Bronte
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 6.64
50 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars The Dover edition of Villette contains French translations..., June 15 2008
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This review is from: Villette (Paperback)
After having just finished reading through Villette for the first time, I don't feel I want to discuss too deeply the content of the book--for as other reviewers have mentioned, Lucy suffers very much and as a whole the story is heartwrenching. It is however exquisitely written, as one would expect coming from Charlotte Bronte. In all I would say that I will remember the characters in this book for a very long time.

What I wanted to state in my review is some information regarding the French dialogue. Another reviewer commented that she wished she could have understood the French dialogue within the book. The edition I read was the Dover edition, ISBN 0486455572--and this edition has a full translation of every French phrase within the text at the end of the book. So if you can't understood written French, I would advise you to get this edition.

Great Inventors and Their Inventions
Great Inventors and Their Inventions
by Frank P. Bachman
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.23
18 used & new from CDN$ 13.23

4.0 out of 5 stars A solid introduction to the world of inventions, May 20 2008
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My nine-year old daughter and I recently read through this book together for her homeschool lessons, and we both quite enjoyed it.

This book, published by Yesterday's Classics, was originally published by the American Book Company in 1918. So, you won't find stories of the invention of modern items like television or computers, but rather inventions that changed the world in the 1700's and 1800's, such as the steam engine, the locomotive, the sewing machine, the telegraph, the telephone, etc. You will also find well-written and inspiring stories of the lives of men who struggled to bring their inventions to the world. The author, Frank Backman, focused as much on the toils and perseverance of the inventors, on their personal lives, as he did on the actual scientific explanations of the inventions themselves. The overall message of the book is that nothing good comes without a great deal of hard work.

So, although being an old book it will need a little bit of editing here and there while reading aloud--and although sometimes the scientific explanations of the workings of machines is a little hard to visualize--overall I think it is an excellent book to share with my children. It's intelligently written (definitely of a higher literary quality than many science books out there for kids today) and as I previously mentioned, inspiring.

Growing & Using Herbs Successfully
Growing & Using Herbs Successfully
by Betty E. M. Jacobs
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.24
50 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Only useful for those wanting to grow herbs for profit, May 2 2008
The title of this book led me to believe that it would contain useful information for a backyard gardener who wanted to start an herb garden, so I took it out from the library.

Now I am writing a review to let potential buyers know that it is really not about that at all. This book (which was written in the 70s) is aimed directly at people who want to grow herbs, potentially on a large scale, for profit. Much of the book's information concerns increasing your plant stock via different methods of propogation, in order to sell the extra plants; packaging and pricing different herbal products; caring for large beds containing a single plant, etc.

There is practically no advice whatsoever here about how to "use" any given herb. You can read that a particular herb "is used in the kitchen and for medicinal purposes" but that's all you get. I think the "using" of herbs mentioned in the title is referring to using herbs to create a marketable business.

I just wanted to give a heads up that this is not a useful book for casual home gardeners or for people looking for specific ways to use herbs at home.

Womanly Art Of Breastfeeding 7e
Womanly Art Of Breastfeeding 7e
by Leche League La
Edition: Paperback
118 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A decent overview of breastfeeding, but lacking detail, March 29 2008
I was unsuccessful breastfeeding my first two children. Now that I am pregnant with my third, I decided to take this book out from the library to learn more about how I could do better this time.

I found that The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding was a pretty good overview of breastfeeding, but it was a more simplified book than I was looking for. I wanted more concrete information than the book could offer. For example,I wanted to learn about specific herbs and foods that can help to increase the milk supply. The back of the book mentions it contains information on "how to increase your milk supply by using herbs and medications." But, the book does not say anything specific about which herbs you might take--it only vaguely mentions once or twice that it's possible to increase your milk supply by taking herbs. And on another page it mentions drinking herbal tea instead of coffee to reduce caffeine. That's it!

Most of the book just covers basic techniques, common sense (stuff like "make sure you get enough rest and drink enough fluids") and lots of quotes from breastfeedings moms, most of whom were simply talking about how much they enjoyed breastfeeding. And a lot of the book also details the benefits of breastfeeding for mom and baby--information which is pretty common knowledge and which I didn't need to read about over and over again.

So although I read this entire book, I don't feel that I really learned anything useful, which was a surprise because it is quite a thick book. But the text is large, and as I previously stated a lot of the information is just common sense sort of stuff.

I was also annoyed by the number of times La Leche League promoted their own books within this one. At times it seemed like the entire book was an advertisement for other books, and for the products they endorse. On just about every other page the authors would say "If you want to learn more about this, read our other book, XYZ."

This book may be useful for someone with no prior knowledge of breastfeeding who has no idea where to begin, but honestly I wasn't very impressed with it and I'm very glad I didn't spend my money on it. I'm sure there must be more detailed and less commercialized guides out there.

The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved: Inside America's Underground Food Movements
The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved: Inside America's Underground Food Movements
by Sandor Ellix Katz
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.64
42 used & new from CDN$ 10.04

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An inspiring look at food activism, March 29 2008
I took out this book from the library after hearing enthusiastic reviews about it on one of my online message boards. I was not disappointed. As someone who is interested in the food industry, The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved (which, by the way, was named after a funk song called The Revolution Will Not Be Televised) was difficult for me to put down.

Katz talks a lot about the problems running deep in our global food system: food transported long distances, genetically modified crops, pesticide use, urban sprawl taking over fertile farmland, over-pasteurization and sterilization of our food, food animals treated with cruelty and raised in filthy conditions, waste and excess when people are starving to death every day, the control of seed stocks by governments and corporations…and many more issues, such as our abuse of our fresh water resources, that are sobering to say the least. Many times as I was reading through this book I felt that my eyes were being opened to things that maybe I wish I didn’t know, most especially when I was reading through the chapter on genetically modified crops—did you know that at least 80% of all soybeans grown in the US are now genetically modified, and around 45% of all corn? GM food is all over the grocery store, and yet no laws exist to force manufacturers to put this on the label, although polls show that 90% of Americans would like to see this information on the label. Why are we not allowed to know what we are putting in our mouth? Read the book and find out the depressing reality.

However, this book is not all doom and gloom. Rather, it holds the inspiring message that a small group of people, even one person, can make a difference in the world. Katz details individuals in every chapter who are trying their best to make a difference in the lives of others, often by opting out of the global food system altogether, by doing things like starting community gardens, raising chickens in their backyard, and learning to scavenge for edible plants in the wild. He even speaks of a group of people living in the country who eat road kill with gusto. Becoming more self sufficient and less reliant on corporations for sustenance is a common theme.

Many of the people Katz speaks of have decided to go against government regulations that they consider unfair, such as the fellow who has an underground “bread club” selling homebaked bread from his home—bread not baked in a commercial bakery is technically illegal for sale.

Probably the most useful thing about this book is that it doesn’t just inspire you, it points you in the right direction so that you can get out there and make a difference. Not only is each chapter filled with ideas, but the end of each chapter has a detailed list of books for further reading, organizations related to that cause, and websites where you can get involved with other people who care about the same issue.

Katz has also included some very interesting unconventional, yet wholesome recipes here, such as a pesto made from chickweed collected from the wild, and a fermented “roots beer” made from various roots, also collected from the wild. The recipes seem intended to stretch our imaginations as to what food can be, and from where we can receive our sustenance (in other words, it doesn’t have to be from a shiny box that came from the grocery store).

I really enjoyed this book, and I would recommend it to anyone who is concerned about our food supply and would like to learn more about what they can do about it, especially those readers who may have a bit of an activist streak. Or simply anyone wanting to learn more about how they can start taking more responsibility for their own health and nutrition. Definitely a worthwhile read.

A Child's Garden of Verses: A Classic Illustrated Edition
A Child's Garden of Verses: A Classic Illustrated Edition
by Robert Louis Stevenson
Edition: Board book
Price: CDN$ 8.50
37 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly beautiful board book, March 9 2008
This book was given as a gift to my daughter when she was young, and it is probably the most beautiful board book in our collection.

It contains a number of Stevenson's most famous poems for children: The Land of Counterpane, The Lamplighter, Happy Thought, Foreign Lands, The Cow, My Shadow, The Swing, and My Bed is a Boat. These poems are all lovely, but the nicest thing about this book is the illustrations, which are all from the early 1900s and very charming.

All in all, if you are looking for an attractive board book (or a nostalgic one) to make a nice gift for a new baby or for a very young child, I would highly recommend this book.

English for the Thoughtful Child - Volume One
English for the Thoughtful Child - Volume One
by Mary F. Hyde
Edition: Paperback
25 used & new from CDN$ 12.41

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gentle approach to learning English skills, March 9 2008
I purchased English for the Thoughtful Child volume 1 for my third-grade daughter's home school lessons. Last year we used a workbook from the English Smart series, and she truly disliked the dull and repetitive exercises. I can honestly say that our English lessons have been much more enjoyable for both of us this year using English for the Thoughtful Child.

The lessons are varied, so the child doesn't feel that the work is tedious. For example, one lesson will include a short story (usually one of Aesop's fables), and ask the child either to retell the story in their own words or write down the story in their own words, and the next lesson might have the child writing a letter to their friend. There are lessons with pictures, asking the child to write a story about the picture, lessons where the teacher dictates some lines which the child writes in their notebook, lessons that require the memorization of poetry, and lessons that involve the usual sort of grammatical exercises (insert the commas where they belong in the sentences, etc.).

I feel that the more standard lessons are excellent in covering a lot of ground with a minimum of written work required from the child; many of the exercises are oral and the written exercises are not tedious.

All in all, I think this is a wonderful series of books that encourages a variety of English and language skills in a gentle way. I would add that these books would be perfect for homeschoolers following the Charlotte Mason method of education. In fact a few of the earlier exercises involve questions with the theme of nature study, so those who have not studied insects, the moon, and the seasons might have to use different questions! Also the book contains many exercises which involve the Charlotte Mason ideas of narration and dictation, both of which are enjoyable and gentle ways for children to increase their language skills.

Next year for fourth grade my daughter will be using English for the Thoughtful Child volume 2.

Solstice Wood
Solstice Wood
by Patricia Mckillip
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 33.00
33 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable story in its own right, March 9 2008
This review is from: Solstice Wood (Hardcover)
Solstice Wood is somewhat of a sequel to McKillip's enchanting book, Winter Rose--but not completely. This book is set in the same place, but in the modern era, many generations later, and although there are a few mentions of Rois Melior, the main character of Winter Rose, she does not actually feature in the story. So it is not a direct continuation of the first book. It would be quite possible to read this book without having read Winter Rose, and still enjoy it, for it is a captivating and well-written story in its own right.

I can't say I was quite as spellbound by this book as I was by Winter Rose, for with the modern setting and less lyrical language, it did not seem as mysterious and otherworldly. Furthermore, I think I preferred Rois's single viewpoint in Winter Rose to the multiple viewpoints in Solstice Wood, which were sometimes jarring. But still, I found it difficult to put down. The writing was top quality. And I did really enjoy the ending, which was quite unexpected.

If you are looking for a quick, fairly light read, and fantasy set in modern times--especially if you enjoy stories where the human world collides with the fairy world, then I would recommend this book. If you enjoyed Winter Rose, then most certainly you should read this too, as it's interesting to see what has happened to Lynn hall generations later.

Amazing Leonardo da Vinci Inventions You Can Build Yourself
Amazing Leonardo da Vinci Inventions You Can Build Yourself
by Maxine Anderson
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.10
34 used & new from CDN$ 4.67

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A solid book, with a few errors, March 8 2008
I acquired this book for my nine-year old daughter's home school lessons, as this year we were studying both the Renaissance and the history of inventions.

After reading Diane Stanley's wonderful illustrated biography of Leonardo Da Vinci, my daughter became fascinated by the man, and so she very much enjoyed reading through this particular book. Although the cover would lead you to believe the book would be filled with instructions for science projects, in fact the bulk of the book is biographical information about Leonardo himself. Each "invention" is preceded by several pages of information on how Leonardo developed said invention, what he was doing in his life at that time, how the Renaissance environment played a role in his work, and so on. It's all very interesting.

As for the inventions. There is a wide variety of projects here. The book is divided into several sections: Leonardo the Artist and dreamer includes (for example) instructions for making your own tempera paint, and drawing in perspective; Leonardo's Useful Machines includes, among others, instructions for building a camera obscura; Leonardo and Water shows us how to make a very ambitious project, Walk-on-Water-Shoes; Leonardo in Flight includes instructions on building a helicopter and a parachute; and Leonardo's War Inventions shows us how to build a safety bridge, a trebuchet, and a tank.

It is a very nice variety of projects. Some are easy to do at home, and would be interesting for younger children, but some would be better for older children. A few, such as the trebuchet, are quite involved and complex and would be a good choice for an older child (say, grade 7 or 8) to use for a project for a science fair.

Although overall I was impressed with this book, I must point out that the instructions sometimes left something to be desired. It seems to me that the publisher wanted to reduce the length of the book, or perhaps make the instructions "easier" by making them shorter, but what I found was that some of the instructions seemed incomplete. More detail would have been helpful. As well, I found a couple of actual errors. For example, when we made the Camera Obscura, the instructions were not only incomplete (the author mentioned using the plastic lid from a tennis ball tube, but neglected to say that it had to be opaque or covered with tissue paper--ours was clear), but there was an actual error: The diagram said to look in the open end of the tube, while the instructions said to look in the pinhole end! Needless to say we were pretty confused, and could not finish the project until we looked it up on the Internet.

So I can't give this book 5 stars when the instructions were sometimes confusing and lacked detail. But I still think it's a very worthwhile book for anyone interested in Leonardo or anyone looking for some unusual science projects.

One more thing--the back of the book says the projects use common household supplies--this is not always true. Some of the projects will require purchasing things like doweling, wood pieces, or foam insulation.

Positive Discipline
Positive Discipline
by Jane Nelsen Ed.D.
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.16
51 used & new from CDN$ 5.09

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Contains some good ideas, but oversimplified, March 5 2008
This review is from: Positive Discipline (Paperback)
The first time I read through Positive Discipline, I thought "Wow, this author is really on to something." I felt it opened my eyes to many aspects of parenting that I hadn't considered before. And indeed, the book does contain some very useful information, especially when it comes to using natural and logical consequences to allow your children to learn lessons from their mistakes. I also admired her idea that you should "Never do for a child what the child can do for themselves," and I agree that even very young children can participate in the household chores and take responsibility for things like dressing themselves, and should be encouraged to do so.

And certainly I agree with her that it's important to treat your kids with dignity and respect.

However, during a second reading of the book I began to feel annoyed by some of the neat categories Nelson uses to describe things. For instance, she labels the four reasons children misbehave: Because they want attention, because they want power, because they want revenge or because they feel discouraged. Certainly children may misbehave for these reasons, but to state over and over again that these are the ONLY reasons children misbehave borders on the ridiculous. And the more I think about it, the more I feel that it is insulting to children to suggest that they will always fit into these neat categories. Children are complex human beings, just like adults, and they too have a myriad of complex reasons that they do the things they do.

In the same vein, she insinuates that the ONLY reason siblings squabble is to get attention from Mom and Dad. Again, maybe sometimes, but it's ridiculous to assume that this is the only reason children fight and therefore if you ignore them they will soon stop. I personally remember fighting a lot with my younger sister as a child, and it was usually when our parents weren't home at all. We were both stubborn and both wanted our own way, is all.

Nelson has many other lists in the book that you are supposed to use in your parenting toolbox, and frankly I think they're a waste of time. Real children are not the simple machines with simple rules she seems to think they are. Furthermore, I don't believe for a minute her assertion that "A misbehaving child is a discouraged child," that children only display inappropriate behaviour because they are misguided about the best way to find belonging and significance. Again, way oversimplified. Kids do things for many reasons, sometimes simply because they are being greedy, selfish or lazy, just like adults can be at times as well.

Lastly, I feel that in Positive Discipline Nelson goes a little too far in trying to make parents feel guilty for being "controlling," and suggests many times that parents punish children not because they really think it will do good, but because they enjoy the feeling of getting revenge. In this she is even more insulting to parents than she is to children. Many parents use punishment (I am not talking about physical punishment, but things like removal of privileges) because they know that when used properly and respectfully, it can be a very effective tool in averting undesirable behaviour, and without the damaging side effects that Nelson explains (in another numbered list, of course).

I can only imagine the chaos that would reign in my house if I completely embraced Nelson's philosophy of "Poor children, they only want to be loved and feel that they belong, I will give them a hug next time they misbehave instead of punishing them, for punishment is cruel."

Well, as you can see I wasn't overly impressed with this book. I still think that many people will find some helpful and even inspiring ideas in here, but I can't wholeheartedly recommend this one because too much of the book just didn't ring true for me.

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