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CanadianMother (Ontario)
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Lavinia
Lavinia
by Ursula K. Le Guin
Edition: Hardcover
41 used & new from CDN$ 0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting, moving, brilliantly executed, June 8 2009
This review is from: Lavinia (Hardcover)
I was not sure what to expect from Lavinia. When I started reading it, I admit I found it difficult to get in to, and I also found it strange that the character of Lavinia *knows* she is a character in a poem, rather than a real person. (This sounds bizarre I know, but Le Guin manages to pull this idea off, and brilliantly.)

But although it started off slowly for me, in the end, I was deeply impressed by the book. It moved me, it intrigued me, and furthermore, the ending is truly one of most magnificent I have ever read. It is perfect, and it left me absolutely in tears because it was so beautiful and sad. (Yes, this is ultimately a sad book, but haunting and beautiful as well.)

I also found it fascinating to see this glimpse--albeit one from Le Guin's imagination, not necessarily from history--of how the people living in Italy prior to Rome's founding may have lived. This is not a time in history that you hear much about, because simply, not much is known about it. Le Guin created her own semi-mythological version of ancient Italy based mostly on Virgil's epic poem. She states in her afterword that the people of that time and place likely were not as sophisticated and advanced as she portrayed them, but that's all right. I like her version of ancient Italy, especially the religion, and I enjoyed spending time there.

Lavinia will be one of my most memorable reads of 2009. I highly recommend it to Le Guin fans, to anyone interested in ancient Roman history, or to admirers of Virgil.

Curious by Nature: One Woman's Exploration of the Natural World
Curious by Nature: One Woman's Exploration of the Natural World
by Candace Savage
Edition: Paperback
11 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars A little bit disappointing., April 15 2009
I was given Curious By Nature by a friend who knew I loved to read, and that I also loved nature. When I saw the cover I was intrigued--the subtitle is "One Woman's Exploration of the Natural World," and this led me to believe that the book was a sort of diary or record of the author's journeys into the wilderness. I expected it to be filled with beautiful descriptions of nature--something which this city girl enjoys very much in her reading.

Well, I ended up being a bit disappointed. The book features various articles Savage wrote over the years for Canadian Geographic, as well as several excerpts from her books. The articles, while interesting, are of a scientific bent and contain little description of the wilderness. For example, there is an article about the organisms that live in prairie soil, one about conservation efforts to protect the Peregrine falcon, one about the scientific debates surrounding the Aurora Borealis, one about skunks. Two articles which I did enjoy were the ones concerning wolves, and grizzly bears.

If you enjoy reading scientific articles, or articles in a nature magazine, you'd likely enjoy this book. Savage is a capable writer and she knows her subjects. However, do not pick up this book if you are looking for a soul-enriching journey into the wilderness, or for detailed descriptions. It is not that, but rather a collection of unconnected magazine articles which do have educational value, but may not be satisfying in other respects.

Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots: Gardening Together with Children
Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots: Gardening Together with Children
by Sharon Lovejoy
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 17.01
51 used & new from CDN$ 3.48

5.0 out of 5 stars Projects to Cultivate Wonder, April 15 2009
I took this book out from the library, hoping to find some ideas for gardening projects I could do with my young children. I was not disappointed! Even though we have a very small yard, I got lots of ideas on things we can grow together--not so much from the main part of the book, but from the chapter in the beginning which lists and describes plants which bring children delight. The author truly makes you think about plants and gardens from a child's point of view.

The main part of the book has sections detailing large scale gardening projects. They are delightful and imaginative. I especially loved the ideas for the Sunflower House, the Snacking and Sipping Garden, and for the Garden of Giants. Really fun stuff! If we are ever fortunate enough to have a home with a large yard, I will certainly be buying this book so that we can have fun trying out some of the projects.

In all, I highly recommend this book to any parent or grandparent who has the desire to garden with the children in their life. Anybody, even those with small yards, will find exciting ideas in here. You don't have to have gardening experience either--the instructions are fairly detailed.

A wonderful book!

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
by Anne Bronte
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.84
70 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling and Realistic, March 9 2009
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I really enjoyed The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Like Agnes Grey, this book I found to be surprisingly realistic considering the time in which it was written. Anne Bronte seemed to be more willing to examine the ugly elements of Victorian society than were her sisters. Adultery, alcoholism, gambling, drug use, and other evils were written about by Anne without blinking. I am sure this was shocking to many readers of that day.

Some reviewers have commented that Helen is an unrealistic character because she is too pure and too good. I would disagree with this. Anne Bronte herself was extremely religious and strict with her ideas of proper behaviour, and I don't think Helen is much different than Anne herself in this respect. In every generation and in every culture there are those people who take their religion very seriously and who always force themselves to do what they feel is right--although these people may be the exception rather than the rule, they do exist.

Helen's story was very compelling for me to read. It was painful for me to see her young, naive self giving her love so freely to a man so unworthy of it. I acutely felt her suffering as she slowly came to a realization of her husband's true character.

I read the Penguin Classics edition of this book, and I would highly recommend this edition. The notes at the end of the book are extensive and excellent for getting a greater understanding of this work in particular and of the Bronte sisters in general.

Kids Weaving: Projects for Kids of All Ages
Kids Weaving: Projects for Kids of All Ages
by Sarah Swett
Edition: Hardcover
19 used & new from CDN$ 3.91

4.0 out of 5 stars Not for young children, March 8 2009
This book on weaving for kids is an attractive hardcover with glossy, colourful pages. It includes many interesting weaving projects as well as a bit of background information on weaving traditions around the world.

However I would caution potential buyers that when they say weaving, they mean weaving. Painstakingly creating blankets, belts, and other things on a homemade or store bought loom. There are a few easy projects in the beginning to get kids used to the idea of weaving, but most of the projects are difficult and time consuming.

I just wanted to mention this because I took this book out from the library with my 10 year old daughter in mind, but I returned it a few days later because the projects were beyond what she would be capable of. I think perhaps teenagers might be more interested in this book--although they might also be turned off by the 'kids' in the title.

ReadyMade: How to Make [Almost] Everything: A Do-It-Yourself Primer
ReadyMade: How to Make [Almost] Everything: A Do-It-Yourself Primer
by Shoshana Berger
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 25.27
44 used & new from CDN$ 1.65

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very witty and hip, but not very useful, March 7 2009
When I saw this book at the library I thought I had found a gold mind of useful information. Just look at the title: "How to Make Almost Everything: A Do-It-Yourself Primer." I am one of those who is into self-sufficient and simple living. I envisioned a book that would give me ideas on sewing my own clothes and making my own laundry detergent, making furniture and fixing a toilet. You get the idea.

Well, I was quite wrong about the content of this book. I will say that the authors are very witty and write eloquently. They are sometimes very funny. And I will also say that this book is unique and creative, and it did make me pause and think about a few things. BUT...

But while it was interesting to leaf through, in all honesty there wasn't a single useful project or even any useful information here. This book is a quirky, witty guide to thinking outside the box for young eco-chic urbanites. The focus of the book is finding ways to reuse materials that would otherwise end up in the landfill. Projects include things like making a lounge chair out of plastic water bottles, and a bookbag out of the blue plastic bags that newspapers come in. There is a shoji screen made out of, I kid you not, Nike shoe boxes, and another room screen made from beer cans. Probably the oddest thing I saw was a chandelier made from plastic cutlery and Christmas lights.

Perhaps university students wanting to create a few ugly conversation pieces for their apartments will get a kick out of this book. There are certainly some unique projects, and some essays are included to get readers thinking outside the box even more. (For example the chapter on plastic has an article on starting a business using credit cards, and the one on fabric has one on how to "weave a good yarn." I am not sure I enjoyed the article on how to lie convincingly, or the one ridiculing the story of Noah's ark.)

I gave this book two stars because I appreciate the effort the authors were trying to make in getting people to think about ways they can reuse items and be more creative in general. But I feel I can't give it a higher rating than that because as I mentioned already, there wasn't one single project in here that was remotely useful to me in any way.

Oh, I also wanted to mention that I'm not sure all the projects are *really* environmentally friendly anyway. For example, there is a door mat made with clothespins--and in the picture, the mat looks to me to be made with NEW wooden clothespins. Please tell me how this is recycling wood or saving trees?

Little White Horse
Little White Horse
by Elizabeth Goudge
Edition: Paperback
65 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely story for the young--or the young at heart, Jan. 27 2009
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This review is from: Little White Horse (Paperback)
My 9 year old daughter recently read The Little White Horse and was so enchanted by it that she asked me to read it as well. I agreed, but I didn't expect to enjoy it very much as it looked like the type of silly story that only children can truly enjoy.

Well, I couldn't have been more wrong. I LOVED this book. Yes, it is a fairy tale for children, with beautiful scenes, magical creatures, and humorous moments, but it is so much more. This book really has substance. The main character, Maria, must overcome evil and sorrow in her world with the power of courage and love. Sometimes casual remarks made by the characters gave me, as an adult, pause for thought. And the love the author shows for the beauty of nature, and for simplicity of religion, was inspiring to me.

Those who tend to be cynical may cringe at the overly sweet and innocent tone of the story, and even more so at the ridiculously happy and perfect fairy tale ending. But personally, I found this beautiful story with a very happy ending refreshing! We hear about so much trouble and misery in the world today, that I really enjoyed taking a break from reality and just diving right into this delightful book.

My favourite thing about The Little White Horse was the positively delicious descriptions the author gave for all the lovely things Maria encountered her first few months at Moonacre Manor--the clothing, the rooms, the gardens, the sky, the people, the church, the village--and most of all the food, the glorious food!

I should also mention that there is an awful lot of humour in this book, although some of it is subtle enough that children may miss it. I usually had a smile on my face while reading, and one scene in particular made me laugh so hard that I actually cried!

Well, I can't recommend this book highly enough. I believe it would be a complete joy to read for any child or any adult who is a child at heart and who hasn't lost their sense of wonder at the beauty that can be found in the world--for yes, there is beauty in the world outside Silverydew and Moonacre Manor as well.

Karen Andreola's Pocketful of Pinecones: Nature Study with the Gentle Art of Learning: A Story for Motherculture
Karen Andreola's Pocketful of Pinecones: Nature Study with the Gentle Art of Learning: A Story for Motherculture
by Karen Andreola
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 20.41
13 used & new from CDN$ 20.41

5.0 out of 5 stars A gentle and sweet book for mothers to enjoy., Jan. 18 2009
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Because of the unusual format of this book, and because of the mixed reviews here, I was unsure if I would like this book--but I purchased it anyway, because I very much enjoyed Karen Andreola's Charlotte Mason Companion. Fortunately, I was not disappointed, and indeed I was pleasantly surprised.

Let me say first of all that this book is an EXCELLENT resource for homeschooling mothers who want to incorporate nature study into their children's lessons, but aren't quite sure how to go about it. Within each chapter of this "journal," Carol describes in detail what she and her children do for nature study, the drawings the children make for their journal, etc, so clueless people (like me!) can really get a concrete idea of what nature study looks like.

It's also a useful resource in that Carol uses Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study extensively, and she writes in her journal about how she uses it and about what information she found there. I have heard many homeschooling moms say that they like the Handbook of Nature Study but that they aren't sure how to use it.

At the end of the book is a wonderful list of "living books" with a nature theme that Karen recommends.

I feel confident after reading this book that I can successfully bring nature study into our homeschool.

Now, as for the story--yes, as one reviewer put it, it IS unrealistic. Carol's husband seems "practically perfect in every way," just like Mary Poppins, and in fact everyone that Carol knows seems to be strangely delightful. I don't think there is one unpleasant person or incident mentioned in Carol's journal. But, perhaps Carol just thinks the best of everyone? Perhaps she tries to always focus on the positive? Regardless, the story is pleasant to read. I found it enjoyable and refreshing to take a break from my busy day and read this sweet and gentle story. I didn't mind at all that it was unrealistic. I get enough realism in my daily life already!

So thank you Karen for writing a book that has blessed me in many ways. :)

Festivals, Family, and Food: A Guide to Multi-Cultural Celebration
Festivals, Family, and Food: A Guide to Multi-Cultural Celebration
by Diana Carey
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 22.13
53 used & new from CDN$ 0.95

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent resource for mothers, Jan. 18 2009
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I bought Festivals, Family and Food in order to get some ideas for celebrating holidays and the changing of the seasons with my children, whom I homeschool. I was not disappointed! This book has a little bit of everything--it's packed with poems, stories, songs, recipes, and ideas for crafts and decorations. It's truly a valuable book for me to have in my collection, and one that I refer to often for ideas.

It is nicely organized into sections relating to the seasons of the year, and at the end there is an extra section with ideas for miscellaneous things like convalescence and tea parties. Finishing the book is a lovely section with graces and blessings.

Several of the festivals and holidays mentioned in the book are British (for example Guy Fawkes Day) but in even those sections there are interesting crafts and recipes that anyone can use.

I should mention that I also bought All The Year Round, from the same publisher, and I ended up returning that one because it was very different from Festivals, Family and Food. All The Year Round is very strongly a Waldorf book (we are not a Waldorf homeschool) and mostly focuses on creating Seasonal Tables. It does not contain nearly as great a variety of materials as Festivals, Family and Food, which is more for a general audience.

So if you are looking for a book that contains a variety of ideas for celebrating the seasons, including lots of recipes and fun poems, choose this one! I feel it's definitely worth the cost.

Persuasion
Persuasion
by Jane Austen
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 5.16
96 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite Austen novel, Jan. 14 2009
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This review is from: Persuasion (Paperback)
I don't think I can add much to the glittering collection of well written reviews here, so I will merely say that Persuasion is my favourite Austen book, by far. The variety and realism of the characters in the book are delightful, and the ridiculous things Anne's father and sister say made me laugh out loud many times!

In short, Persuasion is a joy to read, and potential readers have nothing to lose in giving it a try with the Dover edition that only costs $2.95.

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